Some of the Moken, traditionally a seafaring tribe, have settled on the islands in southern Thailand. They have their
own way of life with a unique culture, traditions, values and beliefs, a nomadic lifestyle, and making their livelihood
from the Andaman Sea. The main food is Taro, a root vegetable considered as a staple in oceanic cultures.
Moken are also known as the Sea Gypsies - Descendents of the Porto-Malaysians who wandered the Andaman Sea
for more than 100 years, living on islands and off the coast of the Mergui Islands in Myanmar, as far south
and east as the islands of the Zulu sea in the Philippines, and including the coast of Malaysia and Indonesia.
In Thailand, the Moklen, or the land Lion, resides in Patong Island in Phang Nga province
and Thalang district in Phuket province.
The fishermen group in Thailand consists of 3 groups there are the Moken, the Moklen, and the U-Lak-La-Woy.
The Moken and Moklen have similar languages. The U-Lak-La-Woy speaks a language of Austronesia family
as the same root but they can not communicate with Moken and Moklen because of the different vocabulary
and articulation. The U-Lak-La-Woy and Moken have permanent residences and their lifestyle has changed
to become the same as for the Thai people.
Lifestyle and House
The lifestyle is influenced by the seasons - in the northwest during monsoon season (May-November)
when there are many storms, the Moken move onto the islands, building houses, or moor in sheltered bays,
protected from the waves and storms. They are also adept at using herbs for treating disease.
Today, Moken people live in the Surin Islands. In the past when the Moken had no permanent residences,
they often migrated because of the monsoon and changes in local winds. Sometimes the weather made
them migrate to build huts on land or to live in their boats in the bays to defend them from the wind or the storm.
In addition, mobile migration gave them complete access to many different food sources while
at the same time not breaking down the resources.
Cultural and Traditional
Marriage and Family
In society, weddings often occur when the couples are teenagers, and are monogamous for life.
They will not separate or change partners unless the wife or husband dies
or have severe marital problems.
When the couple is ready they will ask their parents for permission. If the parents agree, the couple can live together.
However, the man must move in to the woman's house and stay there for a period of time until they can move
to build their own house and having children is an important part of life, so generally Moken families
have 2-5 children - because they usually live in remote areas, or on the sea, they are far from basic services
leading to a higher mortality rate which makes the Moken population a fairly constant number.
The ancestor's pole (Hnear-En-Hlor-Bong)
The Moken have an annual ceremony to celebrate the ancestor's pole (Hnear-En-Hlor-Bong),
with tribe members coming together to worship to the spirits to protection them. During this time,
Moken people stop work. The ceremony includes casting lots, playing music, singing and dancing,
and also have leeway the models to pensive and distress as illness from families, community.
Religious, Beliefs, and Rituals
The Moken have to beliefs that emphasize the spirits, including the spirits of their ancestors, and those found in natures,
which have the power to protect individuals or cause illness. Therefore, they make sacrifices and offerings to the spirits.
The beliefs about child birth
The Moken people do not have rituals considering child birth. When a Moken baby is born they have only the midwife
to assist in the childbirth. There are no rituals for naming the child because the parents do not dare to name the child,
as they do not know until they are sure that their child will survive.
The beliefs after death
The Moken believe that after a person is dead, the dead person will be out of suffering and the difficulties
of life that the people who are still alive have to face. So, we will see at the funeral of the Moken people that they are not sadden,
but the opposite. They will have a festival for the dead all night.
The Beliefs about the natural (forests, soil water, air)
The Moken people believe in the sea spirit.
In the past, Moken wore sarong at their waist level. Nowadays, due to the regulations of the National Park,
the Moken women wear their sarongs to their chest levels. Alternatively, unmarried women can wear sarongs
at the waist with their bras on and married women who breastfeed can go without their bras.
The Moken do not make their own clothes. They obtain their sarongs through trading and purchase.