Happy birthday to Rich!

What a day today.  Fun, informative, and exhausting.  We took a long trip out to Carey Island, home of one of the indigenous tribes of Malaysia, the Mah Meri.  We learned much about the life and culture of these fascinating people.  We also did a number of hands on activities with the Mah Meri, as you will see.  Lots of pictures and a couple of videos to follow.

Thanks very much to all the folks at TE Connectivity Malaysia for their support for this visit.

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The Mah Meri were originally people of the sea.  A small boat like this would have been home to a family of 4.


Appearances can be deceiving.  The man in the middle, taking a break from harvesting palm nuts for oil, is the shaman (holy man) of one of the local tribes.


Posing with the shaman.


This is known as a spirit-house, used once a year to, as they believe, communicate with the spirits.

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Two local ladies greet our group with a gift of a headdress woven from palm leaves.  They are dressed in clothing made from palm bark and leaves.

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TE Connectivity and Clarkson plant a mahogany tree in a ceremony as a gift to the tribe.

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A ceremonial foot washing on a specially prepared mat, as part of our welcome.  The locals began weaving this mat 3 days before our arrival, from palm leaves, specially for our visit.  After we had all passed through, I received the mat as a gift.

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The Mah Meri are renowned for their wood carving, and we can see why.  The shapes are a bit unusual but the craftsmanship is undeniable.


Our group took part in a a traditional wedding ceremony.  Above, is the band.  We aren’t sure how the violin fits it, but it is probably from the British occupation of the island.


This is the staging area for the wedding ceremony.


Stan and Courtney play the role of the bride and groom.

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Supported by Abbie and Sam, their faithful attendants.


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The bride-to-be and some other women hide in this little curtained area, with one hand sticking out.  The groom-to-be circles the area 7 times and chooses the hand of the women he hopes is his fiance.  Rumor has it that the bride marks her hand to make sure he chooses the right one.

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Someone then goes through an elaborate ceremony and dance to bless the couple.  Part of it involves painting some white stuff on the face and hands of the couple.


Click the video above to see Scott blessing the happy couple with some funky moves.

The video above shows the group doing a circle dance with the new couple.

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We tried our luck at using a blowgun.  The local wildlife is in no danger.

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We went to another village of the tribe to learn traditional leaf origami.  The lady directly above is holding my creation.  In case it isn’t obvious, it’s a fish.  “Ikan” in the local language.


The children were a little shy but eventually warmed up to us.


As I said, appearances can be deceiving.  The man on the left, draped in a towel, is the head-man of the village.  He is the spiritual and civil leader.  He is police, judge, and jury. He presides over weddings and funerals.


The little ones like the palm leaves too.


The guys posing in front of a very old banyan tree.  I snapped this just before they realized they were standing in a nest of red ants.


Can’t see the group well, but I wanted to get the whole house.  This is the home of Edward Valentine John Carey, the (now deceased) owner of the island.  It is a beautiful home, but he never lived there.

That’s it for today.  Tomorrow we leave for Penang.  See you there.