The Orang Laut differ most evidenty from the Dobe Ju in the manner of obtaining food. The Orang Laut focuses primarily on fishing to obtain food, unlike the Dobe Ju who are a hunter-gatherer society. On a basic level, the two societies differ in terms of their diet. While the diet of the Ju contain plant foods such as nuts and berries and some meats, the Orang Laut, being ‘hunters and gatherers of the sea’ depend almost entirely on fish and other seafood.
A major difference would be gender roles in obtaining food. In the Orang Laut society, the men are the primary hunters and gatherers. The men do all the fishing. Women do not fish but sometimes engage in gathering plant foods like nuts and berries. However this is not that common. Among the Ju, however, there seems to be more equality in terms of gathering food. The women not only engage in gathering just as much as men, on one specific occasion, according to Lee’s observations, after a short time of food gathering, the women’s loads actually weighed more than the men’s. He found that women provided about 55% of the food while men 45%. Women engage in so much gathering, that the kaross (a carrying device) has become so associated with women and their work that the word for “knot” (!kebi, that ties the kaross to a woman’s waist) spawned the colloquial term for “women” (!kebisi). Just as Orang Laut women do not fish, the Ju women do not engage in hunting. However the Ju women are allowed to “own meat”, because they may own arrows too, just as the Ju men do, which is once again reflective of their egalitarian society. (The owner of the meat is not the one who killed the animal but the owner of the arrow that killed it.) Women may trade arrows with men who hunt and become owners of meat. One similarity is that women in both societies do most of the cooking, whether or not they obtain the food. We argue that the Ju society has a better balance in terms of gender dynamics with regard to obtaining food and this is somewhat similar to our society, where both men and women may be in-charge of getting food for the family. However, referring to the interviewees we conducted, it is clear that even in our society the women do most of the cooking.
Exchange / Sharing practices related to food
Filed Under: Wine and Food