Sea Gypsies (Malaysia)
27 images Created 13 Sep 2012
The Bajau Laut, or "nomads of the sea", live on and near the sea between the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. Compared to the past, a few still live on long boats called Lepa-Lepa, which they leave just to sell the fish at the market in exchange for rice, fruits and vegetables. Most of them, however, live on the islands of the archipelago, in clusters of huts on stilts built with materials found in or near their habitat, often brought from the sea, where essential services are missing altogether: no gas, electricity or running water, while for the needs of the body there's the sea itself. The subsistence is guaranteed by the sea that, in addition to fish, "gives" corals and pearls handcrafted and sold to passing tourists. Although Islam (Malaysia and Indonesia) and Christianity (Philippines) are the major religions of those areas, the Bajau Laut preserve traits of traditional animism and practice a syncretic religion in which the sea is still called "HOME".