Semai Photos: kids learning music

Photos      Captions:

Bathing     Ritual bathing tube for sick child. 
Children    Father and children, Teiw Waar.
Crossbel    Shamanic cross-belts, Teiw Waar.
Father      Father and son, Teiw Waar.
Flute1      Daughter trying to play nose flute, Teiw Waar (pnsool).
Flute2      Father playing nose flute, Teiw Waar.
Hanging     Hanging out, Teiw Waar.
Kdiik1      Kdiik frames hung from the roof in storage - Teiw Waar.
Kdiik2      Kdiik (center), blow pipe (still green) stored on rafters, Teiw Waar.
Kwashior    Reddish tinted hair may reflect Kwashiorkor.
Zither1     Father, shaman, playing two-stringed male zither (Kruub), Teiw Waar.
Zither2     Shaman demonstrates male KrUUb.
Zither3     Shaman demonstrates male KrUUb.
Zither4     Boy with male KrUUb.
Zither5     Son holding two-stringed male zither (KrUUb).
Zither6     Son holding two-stringed male zither (KrUUb).
Rmpent      Pent, Tkoy holding baby langur
Fencing     Pent fencing with lazkap (palm broomstraws)
Seedlings   Pent with lada ceep (bird pepper seedlings)
Rat         Pent with rat which the kids ate later.
Mt. Traas   Preparing to make a highway
Destruction Durian plantation destroyed by highway equipment

These pictures come from Teiw Musaak on the upper Teiw Waar and mostly show adults and children improvising on musical instruments (the nose flute, pnsool, and the two stringed "male" zither, kruub). Two pictures show frame-noose traps for small game, kdiik, hanging from the roof. It is worth noting that the men in these pictures are looking after the children, to the degree that the kids need or want looking after. Semai child supervision is mostly a matter of providing laps, and kids seem to get equal comfort from the laps of either men or women.

The pronounciation of the "U" in KrUUb, the musical instrument is pronounced more like the "e" in "perhaps" than like the "ou" in "you". In the International Phonetic Alphabet, you write that sound as an upside down e (a "schwa"). This is to be distinguished from the "u" pronounced "ou" in this dialect as well as a long and short "a."

The kids ate the rat. Small mammal and bird snacks are a major source of protein for these children.

The area where the Semai live is slowly being destroyed by highways and "modernization." See "A Vision of Modernization" for Rmpent's (then a 9 year old child) pictorial understanding of this.

All photos Copyright © 1992 Robert K. Dentan, All rights reserved.

email: rkdentan <>

Last updated 26 October 2000

Copyright © 1999-2000 by Duen Hsi Yen, All rights reserved.

Thank you Jason and Jan from Natural Child Project for scanning photos!
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