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With Batek in 2023

Updated: Dec 4, 2023

by Lye Tuck-Po

February 2023

3 Batek men on beach with anthropologist
Batek men in Penang, February 2023
I'm with Batek friends in Tanjong Tokong, Penang, February 2023. The years have passed rapidly. The young man on the left was about nine years old when I first met him. On my left, the young men weren’t even born when I left the field at the end of my dissertation year. I don't often have time to visit Batek friends (it takes at least 5 to 6 hours one way to reach them) so I invite them to come here instead.

March 2023


Women and children, March 2023
Women and children, March 2023
naʔMantɔr chopping firewood, March 2023. She's always been camera shy, for as long as I've known her
naʔMantɔr chopping firewood, March 2023. She's always been camera shy, for as long as I've known her
A lean-to built by and for me, with assistance from Batek friends, March 2023
A lean-to built by and for me, with assistance from Batek friends, March 2023
Boys posing, March 2023
Boys posing, March 2023

April 2023


Reading "Why can't we take more / Mengapa kita tak boleh berlebihan?", April 2023
Reading "Why can't we take more / Mengapa kita tak boleh berlebihan?", April 2023
I brought copies of "Why can't we take more / Mengapa kita tak boleh berlebihan?" to Batek in Tembeling and Kechau. This children's book is based on a shaman's message that I recorded in November 1996. The writing was sort of collaborative; illustrations are by Rionna Muniandy. It's in Malay and English. The book can be obtained from https://pgmall.my/p/N793/2472, among other places.
Batek men waiting to board a plane, April 2023
Batek men waiting to board a plane, April 2023
I flew part of the way home, from Kuala Lumpur to Penang. Took Batek with me.

May 2023

Tent and shelter, May 2023
Tent and shelter, May 2023
The lean-to is the one that was built in March (see above); we just needed to throw in an additional layer of leaves for reinforcement. I used the tent for sleeping and the lean-to to keep my bags and for socialisation.
Forest patch
Forest patch
Keeping my eyes glued on the gibbon's pathway. The pathway begins (as far as we can see) as a tree at the back of the palm, then veers left, before coming forward to a riverside tree. The palm is a taduʔ (Onscoperma horridum), which produces a wonderfully crunchy pith. There are tons of it along the river.

June 2023

Batek man visiting anthropologist at home in Penang, June 2023
ʔeyMantor visiting me at home in Penang, June 2023
There's a lot of stuff here. Most of the photos on the wall were taken by me. On the bottom shelf is a picture of my father in the late '50s, and my nephew, aged 4, in 1991 (I think). Then there's a slew of puppets I've been collecting. The latest addition is a puppet from Nepal given to me by Bion Griffin a few months ago. On the shelf are two Penan trays, collected in Baram, Sarawak. Hanging on the wall is a spear I picked up in Sabah.

November 2023

Batek man laying leaves on his camping site, November 2023
ʔeyMantɔr laying leaves on his camping site, November 2023

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