Btsisi’, Blandas, and Malays: Ethnicity and Identity in the Malay Peninsula Based on Btsisi’ Folklore and Ethnohistory
By Barbara S. Nowak, Massey University
Asian Folklore Studies, Volume 63, 2004: 303–323
This article examines Btsisi’ myths, stories, and ethnohistory in order to gain an understanding of Btsisi’ perceptions of their place in Malaysia. Three major themes run through the Btsisi’ myths and stories presented in this paper. The first theme is that Austronesian-speaking peoples have historically harassed Btsisi’, stealing their land, enslaving their children, and killing their people. The second theme is that Btsisi’ are different from their Malay neighbors, who are Muslim; and, following from the above two themes is the third theme that Btsisi’ reject the Malay’s Islamic ideal of fulfilment in pilgrimage, and hence reject their assimilation into Malay culture and identity. In addition to these three themes there are two critical issues the myths and stories point out; that Btsisi’ and other Orang Asli were original inhabitants of the Peninsula, and Btsisi’ and Blandas share a common origin and history.