Also known as: Bajau Laut; Bajau; Badjaw; Sama; Sea Gypsies

The Sama Dilaut (more often known as the Bajau or Bajau Laut) are one of the ethnic groups of Southeast Asia known as the 'Sea Gypsies'. Linguistically, they are a subset of the Sama ethnic group of the Southern Philippines, most of which are settled and heavily Islamised. Historically, the Sama Dilaut ('Sama of the Sea') have been distinguishable from other Sama on the basis of their maritime mode of life and lesser degree of Islamisation. Today, virtually all Sama Dilaut are mainstream Muslims, and most are settled. However, the Sama Dilaut of the Tawi-Tawi islands maintained their traditional religion and lifestyle until the 1970s. Re: Ethonyms applied to this group: "From the time the Sama Dilaut first appeared into the literature, confusion has reigned regarding their name. Their autonym is 'Sama' and if they need to distinguish themselves from the shore-dwelling Sama people, they call themselves 'Sama Dilaut' ('Sama of the Sea'). In eastern Borneo, other people call all Sama people 'Bajau' and the Sama Dilaut are called 'Bajau Laut' ("Bajau of the sea"). 'Bajau' is apparently an Indonesian name name for boat-dwelling people that was transferred to the Sama people in Borneo, both land-dwelling and boat-dwelling. In the Sulu Archipelago, 'Bajau' is commonly used by outsiders for the Sama Dilaut, but not for other Sama people. The earliest visitors to Sulu referred to the Sama Dilaut as 'Bajau' and that name became established in the ethnographic literature for the full-time and part-time boat-dwelling Samal of Sulu. I followed that tradition and referred to the Sama Dilaut as 'Bajau' in previous publications. I was always uncomfortable about doing so and in recent years have become increasingly so ... It is time for 'Sama Dilaut' to become established in the ethnographic literature as the name for the sea-dwelling Sama people of the Sulu archipelago and eastern Borneo." (Nimmo, 2001, pp 1-2)

Show Map of Location

Traditional Culture(1945-1970)Expand All +
Belief +

Supernatural Beings

Nature Spirits Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 139-182, 142, 145-146
Nature god(s) Absent (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 139-182
Ancestral spirits Present, and the principal focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 139-182, 143-144, 155
Deified ancestor(s) Absent (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 139-182
God(s) Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 139-182, 141-142

Supernatural Punishment

Supernatural punishment for impiety Present (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 143-144

Afterlife and Creation

One's actions while living can affect the nature of one's afterlife Absent (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 143-145, 179-182
The actions of others after one has died can affect the nature of one's afterlife One factor in determining one's afterlife (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 144
Culture hero(es) Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 34, 139-182

General Features

Forces of nature are controlled by or imbued with the supernatural Present (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 143, 174-175

Classes of Tapu

Kinship tapu Present (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 174-175
Resource management tapu Absent (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 81-103, 139-182
Social hierarchy tapu Absent (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 104-182

Mana

Mana as a personal quality Absent (Source)
Blevins (2008)
Mana related to social influence or technical skill Absent (Source)
Mana as a spiritual or religious concept Absent (Source)
Blevins (2008)
Practice +

General Supernatural Practices

Headhunting Absent (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 146-182
Sather (1997), pp. 62
Costly sacrifices and offerings Present (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 84, 144, 174-175
Size of largest ritual social group Larger than the largest political community in the culture (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 49, 104-138, 166-167
Political and religious differentiation Some overlap (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 139-182, 151

Rites

Piercing Present in the culture as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 168, 171-172
Genital cutting Present in the culture as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Nimmo (1990B), pp. 168, 172-174
Scarification Absent from culture (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 37-38, 168-182
Tattooing Absent from culture (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 37-38, 168-182
Tooth pulling Absent from culture (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 37-38, 168-182
Social Environment +
Population 1600 (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 21
Population of largest political community 100-999 (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 127
Sather (1993), pp. 34
Importance of Patrilateral descent Low (Source)
Sather (1993), pp. 33
Importance of Matrilateral descent Low (Source)
Sather (1993), pp. 33
Polygamy Limited polygyny (Source)
Sather (1993), pp. 33
Marital residence Neolocal - separate from kin (Source)
Sather (1993), pp. 33

Conflict

Conflict with other cultures Rare or never (Source)
Sather (1993), pp. 34
Nimmo (2001), pp. 218
Conflict between communities of the culture Rare or never (Source)
Sather (1993), pp. 34
Conflict within communities Low (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 129
Sather (1993), pp. 34
Cultural Isolation +
Contact with other cultures Frequent, through trade, warfare, travel, etc. (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 38
Distance to closest landmass inhabited by a different culture (km) 0.0 (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 38
Distance to African or Asian mainland (km) 1374.0 (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 19
Daft Logic Distance Calculator (2014)
Pre-Austronesian population Present: Clear evidence of human occupation prior to Austronesian settlement (Source)
Bellwood (1995), pp. 109
Hindu / Buddhist influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence but in a region where contact is likely (Source)
Cribb (2000), pp. Map 2.21
Nimmo (2001), pp. 139-182
Islamic influence on supernatural belief Evidence of influence (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 139
Nimmo (1990B), pp. 197
Christian influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence but in a region where contact is likely (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 213
Nimmo (1990B), pp. 197-198
Subsistence and Economy +

Land-based means of subsistence

Animal husbandry as a source of food Absent (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 102
Sather (1997), pp. 96
Agriculture / Horticulture Minor (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 39, 100-102
Land-based hunting performed by individuals Minor (Source)
Sather (1997), pp. 96
Land-based gathering Minor (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 39, 100, 102
Land-based hunting performed by one or more groups Absent (Source)
Sather (1997), pp. 96

Water-based means of subsistence

Fishing and water-based hunting performed by one or more groups Major (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 81, 83, 85-98, 102
Water-based gathering Medium (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 81, 99-100, 102
Fishing and water-based hunting performed by individuals Major (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 81, 83, 85-98, 102

Commercial Activity

Trade / wage labour as a source of food Major (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 39, 102
Physical Environment +

Geographical Range of Culture

Number of islands inhabited by culture Four or more (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 19, 43-46

Features of Island with Largest Culture Population

Latitude 5.1 (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 19
Google Maps (2014)
Longitude 119.8 (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 19
Google Maps (2014)
Island type (island with largest culture population or largest island if unknown) Volcanic high island (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Tawi-Tawi) (2014)
Island Size (kmĀ²) 620.0 (Source)
Daft Logic Area Calculator (2014)
Post Contact History(1970-2014)Expand All +
Religious History +

Conversion

Role of social status in conversion process Mixed / Neither (Source)
Nimmo (1990B), pp. 196-197
Use of force in conversion Low (Source)
Nimmo (1990B), pp. 196-197
Resident missionary involvement in conversion process Absent (Source)
Nimmo (1990B), pp. 196-198
Adoption of a world religion Present and predominant (Source)
Nimmo (1990B), pp. 196-197
Secular History +

Demographic and Social Changes

Foreign government systems Present, and of high importance (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 213
Nimmo (1990B), pp. 196
Immigration High (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 218
Nimmo (1990B), pp. 196

Economic Changes

Changes in means of subsistence Medium (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 227
Exportation of goods to other cultures Present and substantial (Source)
Nimmo (1965), pp. 227

Modern Infrastructure

Vehicles and roads Present and widely used (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 220-221
Air travel Present and long-distance (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 220
Sea port Present (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 221, 227

Loss of Autonomy

Nature of loss of autonomy Partly voluntary (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 218
Nimmo (1990B), pp. 196
Loss of political autonoomy High (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 213
Nimmo (1990B), pp. 196
Current Culture(2014)Expand All +
Belief +

Religious Demographics

Dominant world religion Islam (Source)
Nimmo (2001), pp. 232
External Links
References
Bellwood, P. (1995). Austronesian Prehistory in Southeast Asia: Homeland, Expansion and Transformation. P. Bellwood, J.J. Fox, & D. Tryon (Eds.), The Austronesians: Historical and Comparative Perspectives (pp 113-114). Canberra, Australia: ANU Press.

Blevins, J. (2008). Some Comparative Notes on Proto-Oceanic *Mana: Inside and Outside the Austronesian Family. Oceanic Linguistics, 47 (2), 253-274. Retrieved from http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/ol/summary/v047/47.2.blevins.html

Cribb, R. (2000). Historical atlas of Indonesia. Surrey, UK: Curzon Press.

Daft Logic Area Calculator. (2014). Retrieved from: http://www.daftlogic.com/projects-google-maps-area-calculator-tool.htm.

Daft Logic Distance Calculator. (2014). http://www.daftlogic.com/projects-google-maps-distance-calculator.htm.

Encyclopaedia Britannica (Tawi-Tawi). (2014). "Tawi-Tawi". Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com.ezproxy.auckland.ac.nz/EBchecked/topic/584534/Tawi-Tawi

Google Maps (2014). Retrieved from maps.google.com

Nimmo, H. (1965). "Social Organization of the Tawi-Tawi Badjaw". Ethnology, 4 (4), 421-439. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3772791.

Nimmo, H. (1990B). Religious Rituals of the Tawi-Tawi Bajau. Philippine Studies, 38 (2), 166-198. Retrieved from http://www.philippinestudies.net

Nimmo, H.A. (1970). "Bajau Sex and Reproduction". Ethnology, 9 (3), 251-262. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3773026.

Nimmo, H.A. (1990A). "Religious Beliefs of the Tawi-Tawi Bajau". Philippine Studies, 38 (1), 3-27. Retrieved from http://www.philippinestudies.net.

Nimmo, H.A. (2001). Magosaha: An Ethnography of the Tawi-Tawi Sama Dilaut. Manila, Philippines: Ateneo De Manila University Press.

Sather, C. (1993). "Bajau Laut". In P. Hockings, (Ed.), Encyclopaedia of World Cultures (Volume V: East and Southeast Asia) (pp 30-35). New York, NY: G.K. Hall & Co.

Sather, C. (1997). The Bajau Laut: Adaptation, History, and Fate in a Maritime Fishing Society of South-eastern Sabah. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.