22 Facts About Sama-Bajau


Sama-Bajau refers to several Austronesian ethnic groups of Maritime Southeast Asia.

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Sama-Bajau are the dominant ethnic group of the islands of Tawi-Tawi in the Philippines.

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Sama-Bajau have sometimes been called the "Sea Gypsies" or "Sea Nomads", terms that have been used for non-related ethnic groups with similar traditional lifestyles, such as the Moken of the Burmese-Thai Mergui Archipelago and the Orang Laut of southeastern Sumatra and the Riau Islands of Indonesia.

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Sama-Bajau is a collective term, referring to several closely related indigenous people who consider themselves a single distinct bangsa .

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The sea-going Sama-Bajau prefer to call themselves the Sama Dilaut or Sama Mandilaut in the Philippines; in Malaysia, they identify as Bajau Laut.

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Sama-Bajau's was found and eventually married a king or a prince of Gowa.

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Genetically, the Sama-Bajau are highly diverse, indicating heavy admixture with the locals or even language and cultural adoption by coastal groups in the areas they settled.

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Sama-Bajau were first recorded by European explorers in 1521 by Antonio Pigafetta of the Magellan-Elcano expedition in what is the Zamboanga Peninsula.

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Sama-Bajau usually served as low-ranking crewmembers of war boats, directly under the command of Iranun squadron leaders, who in turn answered to the Tausug datu of the Sultanate of Sulu.

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Boat-dwelling and shoreline Sama-Bajau had a very low status in the caste-based Tausug Sultanate of Sulu.

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The Sama-Bajau have been frequent victims of theft, extortion, kidnapping, and violence from the predominantly Tausug Abu Sayyaf insurgents as well as pirates.

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The ancestral roaming and fishing grounds of the Sama-Bajau straddled the borders of the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

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Sama-Bajau fishermen are often associated with illegal and destructive practices, like blast fishing, cyanide fishing, coral mining, and cutting down mangrove trees.

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Sama-Bajau languages were once classified under the Central Philippine languages of the Malayo-Polynesian geographic group of the Austronesian language family.

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Ancient Sama-Bajau were animistic, and this is retained wholly or partially in some Sama-Bajau groups.

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The supreme deities in Sama-Bajau mythology are Umboh Tuhan and his consort, Dayang Dayang Mangilai .

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The umboh are believed to influence fishing activities, rewarding the Sama-Bajau by granting good luck favours known as padalleang and occasionally punishing by causing serious incidents called busong.

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One important religious event among the Sama-Bajau is the annual feast known as pag-umboh or magpaay-bahaw, an offering of thanks to Umboh Tuhan.

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Sama-Bajau people are well known for weaving, needlework skills, and their association with tagonggo music.

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In visual arts, Sama-Bajau have an ancient tradition of carving and sculpting known as okil .

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Sama-Bajau society is traditionally highly individualistic, and the largest political unit is the clan cluster around mooring points, rarely more.

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Sama-Bajau society is more or less egalitarian, and they did not practice a caste system, unlike most neighboring ethnic groups.

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