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The Incidents of Malay Life


The Incidents of Malay Life

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    Available in PDF Format | The Incidents of Malay Life.pdf | Unknown
    Richard James Wilkinson
Excerpt from book: LIFE A1SD CUSTOMS. INFANCY, i I 1KB most Eastern ceremonies the rites that accom- 1 pany a Malay birth are very elaborate and very incongruous. The newly-born child is first spat upon by the midwife in order that he may be protected against the old Indonesian spirits of disease. After this he hears from the lips of his father (or from some learned man if the father be illiterate) the Moslem tenets, the adzan or "call to devotion," and the kamat or "final exhortation to prayer." He is then handed back to the midwife in order that she may imprint on his forehead the caste-mark of the Hindu. Having been thus received into three religions at once, the child is put to rest by his mother's side—along with a piece of iron, a quantity of rice and a number of other articles that the Malay considers necessary for the defence of infancy against its natural and spiritual foes. The presiding authority on these occasions is a woman, the bidan, or midwife. The mighty pawang, or wizard, is also there, but he plays a humble part. He chooses an auspicious place for the birth and he surrounds it with thorns,2 nets, dolls and bitter herbs, 'in order to keep the spirits of evil from getting at the mother and child in the perilous hour of their weakness. He selects the exact spot by dropping some sharp-pointed chopper or axe-head and marking the first place where it sticks into the ground. Thorns are thought to be dangerous to the trailing entrails of thevampire:1 bitter herbs are unpalatable to everyone: dolls may be mistaken for the baby: nets are puzzling to spirits because of their complexity, and even a much-perforated coconut is sometimes hung up over a Malay door in order to bewilder a ghost by the multiplicity of its entrances and exits. The pawnng'fi duty begins and ends with these pr...  
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