Online Encyclopedia

SEMANG

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V24, Page 615 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SEMANG, an aboriginal people of the Malay peninsula, found in northern Perak, Kedah, Kelantan, Trengganu and the northern districts of Pahang. They are a fairly pure branch of the woolly-haired Negrito race, which includes the natives of the Andaman islands, the Aetas of the Philippines and the dwarfs of Central Africa. The men average about 4 ft. 9 or 10 in., while the women are 32 in. shorter. Their colour is a very dark brown or black. The shape of the head is round, or intermediate between round and long. The forehead is low and rounded, and projects over the root of the nose, which is short, depressed and pyramid-shaped. The eyes are wide open and round, showing no obliquity, the iris being of a very rich, deep brown. Lips vary from moderate to full, the mouth is rather large, the chin feebly developed, and the jaws are often slightly projecting. The hair is very dark-brown black, never blue-black as among Chinese and Malays. It grows in short, spiral tufts, curling closely all over the head. The arm-stretch is almost always greater than their height. The feet are usually short and splayed, with a remarkable inward curve of the great toe, and are very prehensile. The Semangs live in caves or leaf-shelters formed between branches. A waistcloth for the men, made of tree bark hammered out with a wooden mallet from the bark of the terap, a species of wild bread-fruit tree, and a short petticoat of the same for the women, is the only dress worn; many go naked. Tattooing, or rather scarring, is practised, by drawing the finely serrated edge of a sugar-cane leaf across the skin and rubbing in charcoal powder. They have bamboo musical instruments, a kind of Jews' harp and a nose flute. On festive occasions there is song and dance, both sexes decorating themselves with leaves. The Semangs bury their dead simply, food and drink being placed in the grave.
End of Article: SEMANG
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GEORGE AUGUSTUS SELWYN (1809-1878)
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