Outcasts of the Islands: The Sea Gypsies of South East Asia

3.12 avg rating
( 8 ratings by GoodReads )
 
9780006551997: Outcasts of the Islands: The Sea Gypsies of South East Asia

An enchanting tale of travels among South East Asia’s Sea Gypsies, scattered groups of semi-nomadic fisher people who occupy the spaces between the islands.

A glance at the map of South East Asia reveals more blue than green, more sea than land. By separating the islands of the Malay Archipelago the sea has created diversity; by joining them together it has enabled trade and laid them open to influences from China, India and the Middle East. All Malays were sailors once – their ancestors reached the islands by boat – and the sea holds a central place in the Malay experience and imagination.

The Sea Gypsies who still occupy this realm seem to live still in the hidden world of Conrad’s tales. They form social co-operative groups, each with its own territory, and move between established anchorages within that range, following the changing currents, seasons and fishing opportunities, and are specialists at exploiting the coral reefs. They have an oral tradition which accounts for their origins with myths of floods and tidal waves. Their hunter-gatherer lifestyle and a belief system that is at root a blend of animism, ancestor worship and sympathetic magic are characteristics they share with the early Malay cultures.

Sebastian Hope travels and lives with groups of Sea Gypsies in both the east and the west of South East Asia, experiencing their subsistence lifestyle, unchanged for centuries. Travelling to fish and fishing to live, like the Sea Gypsies themselves he relies solely on his skills as a sailor and fisherman to survive.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

Review:

Sebastian Hope's book Outcasts of the Islands proves that while the world's tribes, from Amazon jungle-dwellers to Kenyan bushmen, appear to have been so documented that they've become a clichés, there is still unknown territory. The life of Southeast Asia's Bajau Laut "sea gypsies" remains enigmatic. They exist in the ocean nowhere-land between Borneo's Sabah and the Philippines, a place harder than most for the prying curiosity of tourists and anthropologists to reach. The closest most visitors get are Malay kampung air, water villages "on stilts over tidal flats", or diving trips to coral reefs around Pulau Sipadan (where visitors marvel at exotic sea creatures that are in fact everyday sustenance for the sea people).

This book is something special, for the author actually manages to become part of a nomadic sea-gypsy family--living, fishing, eating and sleeping under the tarpaulin of their tiny rickety boat for some two months. Malay land dwellers are disbelieving, "You can eat cassava? You can stand lice?" Yet his relationship with his hosts becomes so emotional that he will end up desperately searching for them again years later.

"We throttled back as we passed the lead boat, dropped the anchor, killed the engine and became part of the floating community," writes Sebastian. "It felt unnerving no longer to have a destination." However, Sebastian's story is no happy-go-lucky traveller's tale. He becomes deeply involved with tribal-chief Sarani's family and their troubles and tragedies. These include a lack of nationality and ID papers, the competition pump-boats illegally "bombing" fish with home-made explosives, depleting fish stocks, fatal diseases and the lack of modern medicine. He finds a people so disenfranchised from modern land-life that such things as contraceptive pills, antibiotics and condoms are only rumours. Instead, they rely on a mysterious ceremony called Mbo' Pai.

The Bajau Laut are people beyond time, with little clue of their ages or of, "clocks and calendars, border controls and exchange rates". Their lives are measured by "two tides a day, a full-moon every twenty-eight nights, and a change of prevailing wind every six months". Travellers to Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines will find in this book an inspirational "other" world. --Sarah Champion

From the Back Cover:

A glance at the map of South East Asia reveals more blue than green, more sea than land. By separating the islands of the Malay Archipelago the sea has created diversity; by joining them together it has enabled trade and laid them open to influences from China, India and the Middle East. All Malays were sailors once – their ancestors reached the islands by boat – and the sea holds a central place in the Malay experience and imagination.

The Sea Gypsies who still occupy this realm seem to live still in the hidden world of Conrad’s tales. They form social co-operative groups, each with its own territory, and move between established anchorages within that range, following the changing currents, seasons and fishing opportunities, and are specialists at exploiting the coral reefs. They have an oral tradition which accounts for their origins with myths of floods and tidal waves. Their hunter-gatherer lifestyle and a belief system that is at root a blend of animism, ancestor worship and sympathetic magic are characteristics they share with the early Malay cultures.

Sebastian Hope travels and lives with groups of Sea Gypsies in both the east and the west of South East Asia, experiencing their subsistence lifestyle, unchanged for centuries. Travelling to fish and fishing to live, like the Sea Gypsies themselves he relies solely on his skills as a sailor and fisherman to survive.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Hope, Sebastian
ISBN 10: 0006551998 ISBN 13: 9780006551997
New Quantity Available: > 20
Seller
BWB
(Valley Stream, NY, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Book Condition: New. Depending on your location, this item may ship from the US or UK. Bookseller Inventory # 97800065519970000000

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
11.87
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

2.

SEBASTIAN HOPE
Published by HARPER COLLINS (2002)
ISBN 10: 0006551998 ISBN 13: 9780006551997
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller
Herb Tandree Philosophy Books
(Stroud, GLOS, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description HARPER COLLINS, 2002. Paperback. Book Condition: NEW. 9780006551997 This listing is a new book, a title currently in-print which we order directly and immediately from the publisher. Bookseller Inventory # HTANDREE0982803

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
11
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 8
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

3.

Sebastion Hope
Published by Flamingo, (2002)
ISBN 10: 0006551998 ISBN 13: 9780006551997
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller
Irish Booksellers
(Rumford, ME, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Flamingo, 2002. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0006551998

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
24.24
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds