Anthropological and Ethnological Research work in Siam. พิมพ์ อีเมล
เขียนโดย Major Erik Seidenfaden .   

SEIDENFADEN, ERIK. ANTHROPOLOGICAL AND ETHNOLOGICAL RESEARCH WORK IN SIAM. JSS. VOL.28 (pt. 1). 1936. p.15-18

 

15

 

 

 

ANTHROPOLOGICAL AND ETHNOLOGICAL RESEARCH WORK IN SIAM

                                                               by

                                          Major Erik Seidenfaden .

The study of  anthropology  as  well  as  ethnology  in  Siam  offers
great   possibilities by   reason  of  the  numerous  and  varied  racial
groups which constitute the population of this country.

While the ethnological problems pertaining to Siam  have  already
been treated by not a few students, such as  the  late  Colonel  Gerini,
Messrs. W. A. Graham, Evans, Dr. A. Kerr, Professor Schebesta, and
myself, about which more anon, those  of  anthropology  have, so  far,
been paid but scant attention.

About  thirty  years  ago   the   late Dr.  Brengues, a   young   French
physician, carried out a series of interesting anthropometric measure-
ments  of  individuals  belonging   to   the  so-called  Chong people, a
branch   of   the  Môn-Khmer. group  of  the  Austro-Asiatic  race, living
in   the   extreme  south-east  of  the  kingdom  of  Siam. Most   unfortu-
nately this promising beginning was cut short much too soon  by   the
untimely    death   of   Dr.  Brengues.  Later   on   Dr. Congdon   of   the
Rockefeller Institute, while  teaching  anatomy  at  the  Chulalongkorn
University   in  Bangkok,  succeeded, during  the  years  of  1928-31, I
believe, in   carrying  out  anthropometric  measurements  of  no  less
than 30,000   Thai (i.e. Siamese) conscripts. The  results  of  this  stu-
pendous piece of investigation have  not yet  been  published, but  the
doctor has promised to contribute an abridged  report  on  this  matter
to the Journal of the Siam Society.

Quite   recently, during   the   winter  months  of  1932,  I  myself,  in
company   with  my  friend, Mr.  E.  W.  Hutchinson, visited  a  group  of
the  Lawā, the   remnants  of  a  Môn-Khmer  people, which  no  doubt
formed the bulk  of  the  population  of  North  Siam  prior  to  the  Thai
conquest of that country  during  the  twelfth  and  thirteenth  centuries

 

 

 

 

 

 

16                                          Erik Seidenfaden                                    [vol. XXV III

a. d. We obtained measurements of  about  sixty  individuals, besides
other ethnological as  well as  linguistic  information. Our  joint  report
on this work will shortly(1) be  published  in  the  Journal  of  the  Siam
Society. This constitutes up  till  now  all  that  has  been  done  in  the
way of anthropological  research work  in  Siam  and  is  thus  only   a
very modest beginning.

We now come to the ethnological problems.

The population of  Siam  may be  divided  into  three  distinct  racial
groups — i. e. (1) the Negroids, represented by the Sĕmang pygmies,

                              living   in   the   extreme   south  of  Siam  in  the  jungles  of  the  Malay

                              Peninsula, so ably described by Messrs.  Skeat, Blagden, Evans, and

                              Schebesta; (2)   the   Austro-Asiatics   represented   by     the    various

     Môn-Khmer   peoples, to   which  both  of  the  aforesaid   Chong   and
          Lawā    belong; and    finally (3) the   Mongoloids, represented   by  the
          Thai with their  many  subdivisions; the immigrant Chinese and some
          hill   tribes   in   Northern   and   Western   Siam, which   are   partly   of
         Chinese   and   partly   of   Tibetan   stock. The   Karen   people, though
         undoubtedly  of  Mongoloid  race, have  not  yet  been  finally  classified
         whether belonging  to  the  Chinese  or  Tibetan  stock. They   probably
         belong to the latter.

As the above three main groups are  split  up  into  more  than  thirty
different peoples and tribes, subdivided again in numerous clans and
septs, speaking a great number of languages and dialects, a detailed
study of their anthropological and  ethnological  characteristics  would
most probably result  in  the  discovery  of  a  number  of  new  and  im-
portant facts which, besides adding to the total sum of our  knowledge
of these departments of science, might perhaps even alte r our  whole
view on the origin  and  distribution  of  the  human  race. I  beg  in  this
connection   to   refer   to   Professor   Paul  Rivet's  recent  paper,  Les
Océaniens,  
(Journal    Asiatique,  tome   ccxxII,  No. 2,  avril-juin  1933,
pp. 235-256), from which it seems clear  that  those  mutations  of  the
Primates that resulted in the creation of   the  various  human  species
took   place   just  in  that  part  of  the  vast  Asiatic  continent  which  is
represented   by    Hither   and   Further   India. That  the days  of  explo-
ration   and  discovery  of  extinct  or  hitherto  unknown  living  species
of the human race, as far as  regards  Further  India  at  least, are  not

                      _______________________________________________________

(1) As a matter of fact this report was published in the JSS, vol. XXVII,
pp. 153-182.

 

 

 

 

 

PT. I ]          ANTHROPOLOGICAL RESEARCH WORK IN SIAM           17

yet over, has been amply proved by  the  recent finds  of  the  petrified
skeletons or skeletal parts made  by  Mansuy  in  Upper  Tonking, as
well as by the  discovery of a  tribe  of  stark-naked  hunting  nomads,
the  so-called  Khâ  Tong  Lu'ang, met  with  for  the  first time   by   a
European forest official in the jungles of North  Siam  less  than  ten
years ago.

We do not know who  were  the  earliest  inhabitants  of   Siam. All
we know is that the Thai  conquerors, coining  down  from  their  fast-
nesses in Southern China, seized  the  country  from  the Lawā, Mon
and Khmer in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries A. D.

It is probable that the Môn-Khmer people of Siam and  the  rest  of
Further  India,  coming   from   the  north  like  the  Thai, drove  out  or
absorbed a former Indonesian population, to-day represented by the
various peoples of the East Indian  Archipelago, and, to  quote  Kern,
that the Malays wandered down  to  their  southern  habitat  from  the
shores of present-day Annam.

The Jakun and  Mawken, the  sea  gypsies  of  the  west  coast  of
Malaya and the  Mergui  Archipe lago, who  have  been  called  Proto-
Malays, may also belong to the Indonesian stock.

The Sĕmang pygmies of the Malay Peninsula constitute the remains
of  a  much  earlier  population  than  the  Môn-Khmer  or  Indonesian.
They may have inhabited the isles and coasts  of  Further  India  right
up to Southern China, if one can believe the narrative  of  the  famous
Chinese pilgrim I-Tsing, who  skirted  those  coasts  when  returning
from India in the seventh century.

According to Mansuy, the skeletal finds in  the  caves  of  Tongking
represent (1) the Negrito race ; (2) a race very similar to the Papuans
of New Guinea; and (3) that of a tall, well-developed  race  with  large
skulls resembling those of the Cro-Magnon.

Among the so-called Khā or Moi tribes  in  the  jungles  of  French
Indochina certain tribes are distinguished  by  their  tall, fair-skinned
dolichocephalic members, which may represent a mixture of Indone-
sians or Môn-Khmer with the large race from the Tongkinese  caves.
These  Tongkinese "Cro-Magnons" were  perhaps  an  offshoot,  the
most easternly one, of that ancient and splendid  artistic race  which
20,000 years ago peopled southern France  and   the  Italian  riviera.
In    my   opinion   these   large  "Cro-Magnons" of  Tongking  do  not
represent the   earliest   inhabitants   of  Further  India, but  must  be
considered immigrants coiming from the north-west. Systematic ex-

 

 

 

 

 

 

18                                            Erik Seidenfaden

cavations of the numerous caves  in  North Siam  would  undoubtedly
assist   us   in   solving   the   problem   of   the   habitat  of  these "Cro-
Magnon " immigrants.

Professor Fritz Sarasin, in his papers on his searches for a palœo-
lithic   culture   in   the  caves  of  Siam, suggests that  the  palœolithic
people, whose stone implements were  found  by   him  belonged   to
a Proto-Melanesian race. I  would  suggest  that  these  Proto-Melane-
sians have been found by Mansuy, and that they  are  represented  by
the Papuan-like skull found by him.

In  conclusion, I   shall   venture   to   state  as  my  opinion  that  the
earliest   inhabitants  of  Siam, and  Further  India, were  pygmies, the
direct ancestors of our present-day Sĕrmang of the  Malayan  jungles.
Further, that  these  ancient   pygmies   may   have   been   the  ances-
tors   of   the   larger-bodied  later  races  in  conformity  with  the  now
prevailing   theory   which   was   first   launched   by   Father  Wilhelm
Schmidt in his  excellent  work, Die  Stellung  der  Pygmäenvölker  in
der Entwicklungsgeschichte der Menschen.

Siam of to-day represents a melting-pot  of  many  races,  peoples
and tongues which, at least outwardly, are  in  the  process  of  being
unified, speaking the  same  language, wearing  the  same  national
dress, and aspiring to the same social and political  ideals. As  such
a process is bound to destroy a  great  number  of  ethnological  and
ethnographical characteristics, a thorough and detailed  study  of  all
the  various  groups, of   which  the  present  Siamese  population  is
composed,  is   necessarily   of  the  utmost  importance  for  science.

Such research work should be taken up now, and it is sincerely to
be hoped  that  the  enlightened  Government  of  Siam  will  do  their
best to assist and facilitate  such  work  before  it  becomes  too  late.

 

 

The  above  paper  was  read  by  Major  Seidenfaden  before  The
International   Congress   of   Anthropology   and  Ethnology  held  at
University  College  in  London  from  the  30th July to the 4th August
1934. An   extract   of  the  paper  appears  in  the  report  of  this  con-
gress in Gongrès International des  Sciences  Anthropologiques  et
Ethnologiques,
p. 135, the full text  having  also  been  published  in
The Asiatic Review for October 1934, pp. 695-697.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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