Austronesian peoples

Austronesian peoples
Taiwanese aborigines.JPG

Amis people performing a traditional dance
Total population
c. 400 million
Regions with significant populations
Languages
Austronesian languages
Religion
Animism, Buddhism, Christianity (Protestantism, Roman Catholicism), Folk religion, Hinduism (Balinese Hinduism), Indigenous religion, Islam (Sunni Islam), Shamanism

The Austronesian peoples, or more accurately Austronesian-speaking peoples,[14] are a group of various peoples in Southeast Asia, Oceania and East Africa that speak Austronesian languages. The nations and territories predominantly populated by Austronesian-speaking peoples are known collectively as Austronesia.[15]

They include Taiwanese aborigines, the majority of ethnic groups in Brunei, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, East Timor, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Micronesia, the Philippines, and Polynesia. As well as the Malays of Singapore; the Polynesians of New Zealand, Hawaii, and Chile; the Torres Strait Islanders of Australia; the non-Papuan peoples of Melanesia and coastal New Guinea; and the Shibushi-speakers of Comoros, and the Malagasy and Shibushi-speakers of Réunion. They are also found in the regions of Southern Thailand, the Cham areas in Vietnam and Cambodia, parts of Myanmar, the Hainan island province of China, parts of Sri Lanka, and some of the Andaman Islands. Additionally, modern-era migration brought Austronesian-speaking people to the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, mainland Europe, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Hainan, Hong Kong, Macau, and West Asian countries. Ethnic Maldivians also possess a genetic connection to the Austronesian-speaking groups of maritime Southeast Asia via gene flow from the Malay Archipelago.[16][17]

Another term used by Wilhelm G. Solheim II to refer to Austronesian-speakers with a maritime-oriented culture is Nusantao (“south island people”), as part of his Nusantao Maritime Trading and Communication Network hypothesis.[18]

History of research[edit]

The linguistic connections between Madagascar, Polynesia, and Southeast Asia were recognized early in the Colonial Era by European authors, particularly the remarkable similarities between Malagasy, Malay, and Polynesian numerals.[19] The first formal publications on these relationships was in 1708 by the Dutch Orientalist Adriaan Reland, who recognized a “common language” from Madagascar to western Polynesia; although the Dutch explorer Cornelis de Houtman also realized the linguistic links between Madagascar and the Malay Archipelago prior to Reland in 1603.[20]

Dancers wearing qatu masks in the initiation rites of Maewo, Vanuatu, from The Melanesians (1891) by Robert Codrington[21]

The Spanish philologist Lorenzo Hervás y Panduro later devoted a large part of his Idea dell’ Universo (1778-1787) to the establishment of a language family linking the Malaysian Peninsula, the Maldives, Madagascar, the Sunda Islands, Moluccas, the Philippines, and the Pacific Islands eastward to Easter Island. Multiple other authors corroborated this classification, and the language family came to be known as “Malayo-Polynesian,” first coined by the German linguist Franz Bopp in 1841 (German: malayisch-polynesisch). The term “Malayo-Polynesian” was also first used in English by the British ethnologist James Cowles Prichard in 1842 to refer to a historical racial category roughly equivalent to the Austronesian peoples today, and not to the language family.[19][22]

Distribution of the Austronesian languages (Blust, 1999)[23]

However, the Malayo-Polynesian language family initially excluded Melanesia and Micronesia, due to what they perceived were marked physical differences between the inhabitants of these regions from the Malayo-Polynesian speakers. However, there was growing evidence of their linguistic relationship to Malayo-Polynesian languages, notably from studies on the Melanesian languages by Georg von der Gabelentz, Robert Henry Codrington and Sidney Herbert Ray. Codrington coined and used the term “Ocean” language family rather than “Malayo-Polynesian” in 1891, in opposition to the exclusion of Melanesian and Micronesian languages. This was adopted by Ray who defined the “Oceanic” language family as encompassing the languages of Southeast Asia and Madagascar, Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia.[20][21][24][25]

In 1899, the Austrian linguist and ethnologist Wilhelm Schmidt coined the term “Austronesian” (German: austronesisch, from Latin auster, “south wind”; and Greek νῆσος, “island”) to refer to the language family.[26] Schmidt had the same motivations as Cordington. He proposed the term as a replacement to “Malayo-Polynesian”, because he also opposed the implied exclusion of the languages of Melanesia and Micronesia in the latter name.[19][22] It became the accepted name for the language family, with Oceanic and Malayo-Polynesian languages being retained as names for subgroups.[20]

The term “Austronesian”, or more accurately “Austronesian-speaking peoples”, came to refer the people who speak the languages of the Austronesian language family. Some authors, however, object to the use of the term to refer to people, as they question whether there really is any biological or cultural shared ancestry between all Austronesian-speaking groups.[14][27] This is especially true for authors who reject the prevailing “Out of Taiwan” hypothesis and instead offer scenarios where the Austronesian languages spread among preexisting static populations through borrowing or convergence, with little or no population movements.[28][29]

Paraw sailboats from Boracay. Outrigger canoes and crab claw sails are hallmarks of the Austronesian maritime culture[30][31][32]

Despite these objections, the general consensus is that the archeological, cultural, genetic, and especially linguistic evidence all separately indicate varying degrees of shared ancestry among Austronesian-speaking peoples that justifies their treatment as a “phylogenetic unit.” This has led to the use of the term “Austronesian” in academic literature to refer not only to the Austronesian languages, but also the Austronesian-speaking peoples, their societies, and the geographic area of Austronesia.[27][28][29][33][34][35]

Serious research into the Austronesian languages and its speakers has been ongoing since the 19th century. Modern scholarship on Austronesian dispersion models is generally credited to two influential papers in the late 20th century: The Colonisation of the Pacific: A Genetic Trail (Hill & Serjeantson, eds., 1989), and The Austronesian Dispersal and the Oigin of Languages (Bellwood, 1991).[34][36][37] The topic is particularly interesting to scientists for the remarkably unique characteristics of the Austronesian speakers: their extent, diversity, and rapid dispersal.[34][38][39]

Regardless certain disagreements still exist among researchers with regards to chronology, origin, dispersal, adaptations to the island environments, interactions with preexisting populations in areas they settled, and cultural developments over time. The mainstream accepted hypothesis is the “Out of Taiwan” model first proposed by Peter Bellwood. But there are multiple rival models that create a sort of “pseudo-competition” among their supporters due to narrow focus on data from limited geographic areas or disciplines.[34][38][39][40] The most notable of which is the “Out of Island Southeast Asia” model. As a generalization, authors that are based in Indonesia and Malaysia tend to favor the “Out of ISEA” model, while authors based in Taiwan and the Pacific Islands tend to favor the “Out of Taiwan” model.[34]

However, other authors have also proposed more complex combined models that create more or less coherent comprehensive hypotheses with only a few contentious areas. An example of this is the “Synthetic Total Evidence Model” (STEM) by Chambers & Edinur (2015).[34]

Geographic distribution[edit]

Prior to the 16th century Colonial Era, the Austronesian language family was the most widespread language family in the world, spanning half the planet from Easter Island in the eastern Pacific Ocean to Madagascar in the western Indian Ocean.[28]

Coconuts in Rangiroa island in the Tuamotus, French Polynesia, a typical island landscape in Austronesia. Coconuts are native to tropical Asia, and were spread as canoe plants to the Pacific Islands and Madagascar by Austronesians.[41][42][43]

It is spoken today by about 386 million people (4.9% of the global population), making it the fifth-largest language family by number of speakers. Major Austronesian languages with the highest number of speakers are Malay (Indonesian and Malaysian), Javanese, and Filipino (Tagalog). The family contains 1,257 languages, which is the second most of any language family.[44]

The geographic region that encompasses native Austronesian-speaking populations is sometimes referred to as Austronesia. Other geographic names for various subregions include Greater Sunda Islands, Lesser Sunda Islands, Island Melanesia, Island Southeast Asia (ISEA), Malay Archipelago, Maritime Southeast Asia (MSEA), Melanesia, Micronesia, Near Oceania, Oceania, Pacific Islands, Remote Oceania, Polynesia, and Wallacea. In Indonesia and Malaysia, the nationalistic term Nusantara is also popularly used for their islands.[33][34]

Extent of contemporary Austronesia and possible further migrations and contact (Blench, 2009)[45]

Historically, Austronesians uniquely live in an “island world”. Austronesian regions are almost exclusively islands in the Pacific and Indian oceans, usually volcanic in origin. The vast majority lie within ten degrees of the equator, with predominantly tropical or subtropical climates with considerable seasonal rainfall. They had limited penetration into the interiors of large islands or mainlands.[20][46]

They include Taiwanese aborigines, the majority of ethnic groups in Brunei, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, East Timor, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Micronesia, the Philippines, and Polynesia. As well as the Malays of Singapore; the Polynesians of New Zealand, Hawaii, and Chile; the Torres Strait Islanders of Australia; the non-Papuan peoples of Melanesia and coastal New Guinea; and the Shibushi-speakers of Comoros, and the Malagasy and Shibushi-speakers of Réunion. They are also found in the regions of Southern Thailand, the Cham areas in Vietnam and Cambodia, and parts of Myanmar.[20][47]

Additionally, modern-era migration brought Austronesian-speaking people to the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, mainland Europe, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Hainan, Hong Kong, Macau, and West Asian countries.[48] Ethnic Maldivians also possess a genetic connection to the Austronesian-speaking groups of maritime Southeast Asia via gene flow from the Malay Archipelago.[49][50]

Some authors also propose further settlements and contacts in the past in areas that are not inhabited by Austronesian speakers today. These range from likely hypotheses to very controversial claims with minimal evidence. In 2009, Roger Blench compiled an expanded map of Austronesia that encompass these claims based on various evidence like historical accounts, loanwords, introduced plants and animals, genetics, archeological sites, and material culture. They include areas like the Pacific coast of the Americas, Japan, the Yaeyama Islands, the Australian coast, Sri Lanka and coastal South Asia, the Persian Gulf, some of the Indian Ocean islands, East Africa, South Africa, and West Africa.[45]

Subgroups[edit]

Map showing the distribution of the Austronesian language family (light rose pink). It roughly corresponds to the distribution of the Austronesian people

Austronesian peoples consist of the following groupings by name and geographic location.

Prehistory[edit]

Best-fit genomic mixture proportions of Austronesians in Island Southeast Asia and their inferred population movements[34][51]

The broad consensus on Austronesian origins is the “two-layer model” where an original Paleolithic indigenous population in Island Southeast Asia were assimilated to varying degrees by incoming migrations of Neolithic Austronesian-speaking peoples from Taiwan and southern China from around 4,000 BP.[39][52] Austronesians also mixed with other preexisting populations as well as later migrant populations among the islands they settled, resulting in further genetic input. The most notable are the Austroasiatic-speaking peoples in western Island Southeast Asia (peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, and Java); the Bantu peoples in Madagascar and the Comoros; as well as Indian, Arab, and Han Chinese traders and migrants in the more recent centuries.[34][51]

Paleolithic[edit]

Island Southeast Asia was settled by modern humans in the Paleolithic following coastal migration routes, presumably starting before 70,000 BP, long before the development of Austronesian cultures.[34][53][54] These populations are typified by having dark skin, curly hair, and short statures, leading Europeans to believe they were related to African Pygmies in the scientific racism of the 19th century. However, despite these physical differences, genetic studies have shown that they are closer related to other East and Southeast Asian populations than to Africans.[55][54]

Representation of the coastal migration model, with the indication of the later development of mitochondrial haplogroups

These early population groups originally lacked watercraft technology, and thus could only cross narrow interisland seas with primitive floats or rafts (likely bamboo or log rafts) or through accidental means. Especially the deeper waters of the Wallace Line, Weber Line, and Lydekker Line with islands disconnected from mainland Asia even in the lower sea levels of the last glacial period.[34][53][note 1]

Regardless, the earliest archeological putative record of modern humans in Southeast Asia is from the Callao Cave of northern Luzon in the Philippines dated to around 67,000 BP, although its identification as Homo sapiens is still contentious.[53][56] The oldest other confirmed human fossils in the Philippines is from the Tabon Caves of Palawan, dated to around 47,000 BP.[57] Humans reached the islands in Wallacea as well as the Sahul landmass (Australia and New Guinea) by around 53,000 BP (some give even older dates up to 65,000 BP). By 45,400 years ago, humans had reached the Bismarck Archipelago in Near Oceania.[34][53] They were once also present in mainland China and Taiwan, but their populations are now extinct or assimilated.[58][59][60]

These people are generally historically referred to as “Australo-Melanesians” or “Australoids“, though the terminology is problematic as they are genetically diverse and most groups within Austronesia have significant Austronesian admixture and culture. The unmixed descendants of these groups today include the interior Papuans and Indigenous Australians.[34][51][54]

Aeta fishermen in an outrigger canoe in Luzon, Philippines (c. 1899)

In modern literature, descendants of these groups located in Island Southeast Asia west of Halmahera are usually collectively referred to as “Negritos“, while descendants of these groups east of Halmahera (excluding Indigenous Australians) are referred to as “Papuans“.[55] They can also be divided into two broad groups based on Denisovan admixture. Philippine Negritos, Papuans, Melanesians, and Indigenous Australians display Denisovan admixture; while Malaysian and western Indonesian Negritos (Orang Asli) and Andamanese islanders do not.[54][61][62][note 2]

Mahdi (2017) also uses the term “Qata” to distinguish the indigenous populations of Southeast Asia, versus “Tau” for the later settlers from Taiwan and mainland China; both are based on proto-forms for the word “person” in Malayo-Polynesian languages that referred to darker-skinned and lighter-skinned groups respectively.[55] Jinam et al. (2017) also proposed the term “First Sundaland People” in place of “Negrito”, as a more accurate name for the original population of Southeast Asia.[54]

These populations are genetically distinct from later Austronesians, but through fairly extensive population admixture, modern Austronesians all have varying levels of ancestry from these groups. The same is true for some populations historically considered “non-Austronesians” due to physical differences; like Negritos, Orang Asli, Melanesians, and coastal Papuans, all of whom have Austronesian admixture.[28][34][51] In Polynesians in Remote Oceania, for example, the admixture is around 20 to 30% Papuan, and 70 to 80% Austronesian. While the Melanesians in Near Oceania as well as the natives of the Lesser Sunda Islands, the admixture is roughly around 50% Austronesian and 50% Papuan. Similarly, in the Philippines, the groups traditionally considered to be “Negrito” are roughly 30 to 50% Austronesian.[28][34][51][54]

Neolithic China[edit]

Possible language family homelands and the spread of rice into Southeast Asia (ca. 5,500–2,500 BP). The approximate coastlines during the early Holocene are shown in lighter blue.[63]

The broad consensus on the Urheimat (homeland) of Austronesian languages as well as the Neolithic Early Austronesian peoples is accepted to be Taiwan, as well as the Penghu Islands and coastal mainland southern China.[64][65][66]

The identity of the Neolithic pre-Austronesian cultures in China is contentious. Tracing Austronesian prehistory in mainland China and Taiwan has been difficult due to obliteration of most traces of Austronesian culture by the recent southward expansion of the Han Chinese into southern China since at least the terminal Neolithic (4500 to 4000 BP), the southward expansion of the Han dynasty (2nd century BCE), and the recent Qing dynasty annexation of Taiwan (1683 CE).[63][67][68][69] Today, no Austronesian languages survive in southern China.[34][65][70] The politicization of archaeology is also problematic, particularly erroneous reconstructions among some Chinese archaeologists of non-Sinitic sites as Han.[70]

Nevertheless based on linguistic, archaeological, and genetic evidence, Austronesians are most strongly associated with the early farming cultures of the Yangtze River basin that domesticated rice from around 13,500 to 8,200 BP. They display typical Austronesian technological hallmarks, including tooth removal, teeth blackening, jade carving, tattooing, stilt houses, advanced boat-building, aquaculture, wetland agriculture, and the domestication of dogs, pigs, and chickens. These include the Kauhuqiao, Hemudu, Majiabang, Songze, Liangzhu, and Dapenkeng cultures which occupied the coastal regions between the Yangtze River delta to the Min River delta.[71]

Relations with other groups[edit]

Proposed routes of Austroasiatic and Austronesian migrations into Indonesia (Simanjuntak, 2017)[72]

Based on linguistic evidence, there have been proposals linking Austronesians to Austroasiatic and Sinitic peoples (as Austric and Sino-Austronesian languages, respectively). But evidence of these relationships are tenuous and the methods used are highly contentious. Neither proposals are widely accepted.[73] In particular, similarities between Austronesian and Sinitic languages are believed to be the result of an Austronesian substratum and Neolithic cultural interaction, rather than common descent.[74][75]

Proposed genesis of Daic languages and their relation with Austronesians (Blench, 2018)[76]

However, it is believed that in western Island Southeast Asia there had been earlier Neolithic overland migrations (pre-4,000 BP) by Austroasiatic-speaking peoples into what is now the Greater Sunda Islands when the sea levels were lower in the early Holocene. These peoples were assimilated linguistically and culturally by incoming Austronesian peoples in what is now modern-day Indonesia and Malaysia.[72]

Several authors have also proposed that Kra-Dai speakers may actually be an ancient daughter subgroup of Austronesians that migrated back to the Pearl River delta from Taiwan and/or Luzon shortly after the Austronesian expansion. Later migrating further westwards to Hainan, Mainland Southeast Asia and Northeast India. They proposes that the distinctiveness of Kra-Dai (it is tonal and monosyllabic) was the result of linguistic restructuring due to contact with Hmong-Mien and Sinitic cultures. Aside from linguistic evidence, Roger Blench has also noted cultural similarities between the two groups, like facial tattooing, tooth removal or ablation, teeth blackening, snake (or dragon) cults, and the multiple-tongued jaw harps shared by the Indigenous Taiwanese and Kra-Dai-speakers. However archaeological evidence for this is still sparse.[73][71][76][77] This is believed to be similar to what happened to the Cham people, who were originally Austronesian settlers (likely from Borneo) to southern Vietnam at around 2,100 to 1,900 BP, and had languages similar to Malay. Their languages underwent several restructuring events to syntax and phonology due to contact with the nearby tonal languages of Mainland Southeast Asia and Hainan.[77][78]

Austronesian expansion[edit]

Migration models[edit]

Colorized photograph of a Tsou warrior wearing traditional clothing, pre-World War II

“Out of Taiwan” model[edit]

An element in the ancestry of Austronesian-speaking peoples, the one which carried their ancestral language, originated on the island of Taiwan. This occurred after the migration of pre-Austronesian-speaking peoples from continental Asia between approximately 10,000–6,000 BCE.[79][23] Other research has suggested that, according to radiocarbon dates, Austronesians may have migrated from mainland China to Taiwan as late as 4000 BC (Dapenkeng culture).[80] Before migrating to Taiwan, Austronesian speakers originated from the Neolithic cultures of Southeastern China, such as the Hemudu culture or the Liangzhu culture of the Yangtze River Delta.[81][82][83]

Map showing the migration and expansion of the Austronesians

Hōkūleʻa, a modern replica of a Polynesian double-hulled voyaging canoe, is an example of a catamaran, another of the early sailing innovations of Austronesians

Māori poupou from the Ruato tomb of Rotorua

According to the mainstream “out-of-Taiwan model”, a large-scale Austronesian expansion began around 3000–1500 BCE. Population growth primarily fuelled this migration. These first settlers may have landed in northern Luzon in the archipelago of the Philippines, intermingling with the earlier Australo-Melanesian population who had inhabited the islands since about 23,000 years earlier. Over the next thousand years, Austronesian peoples migrated southeast to the rest of the Philippines, and into the islands of the Celebes Sea, Borneo, and Indonesia. The Austronesian peoples of Maritime Southeast Asia sailed eastward, and spread to the islands of Melanesia and Micronesia between 1200 BCE and 500 CE, respectively. The Austronesian inhabitants that spread westward through Maritime Southeast Asia had reached some parts of mainland Southeast Asia, and later on Madagascar.[79][84]

Sailing to Micronesia and the previously uninhabited islands of remote Oceania by 1000 BCE, the Austronesian peoples founded Polynesia.[85] These people settled most of the Pacific Islands. They had settled Rapa Nui (Easter Island) by AD 300, Hawaii by AD 400, and into New Zealand by about 1280 CE.
There is evidence, based in the spreading of the sweet potato, that they reached South America where they traded with the Native Americans.[86][87]

In the Indian Ocean they sailed west from Maritime Southeast Asia; the Austronesian peoples reached Madagascar by ca. 50–500 CE.[43][41]

Tianlong Jiao (2007)[88] notes that Neolithic peoples from the coast of southeastern China migrated to Taiwan from 6,500-5,000 B.P. The Neolithic period in southeastern China lasted from 6,500 B.P. until 3,500 B.P., and can be divided into the early (ca, 6500-5000 B.P.), middle (ca. 5000-4300 B.P.), and late (ca. 4300-3500 B.P.) Neolithic periods. The Neolithic in southeastern China started off with pottery, polished stone tools, and bone tools, with technology continuing to progress over the years. Neolithic peoples in Taiwan and mainland China continued to maintain regular contact with each other until 3,500 B.P., which was when bronze artefacts started to appear. Jiao (2013)[89] notes the Neolithic appeared on the coast of Fujian around 6,000 B.P. During the Neolithic, the coast of Fujian had a low population density, with the population depending on mostly on fishing and hunting, alongside with limited agriculture.

Taiwan melting pot hypothesis[edit]

Based on recent archaeological evidence as well as linguistic evidence, Roger Blench (2014)[90] considers the Austronesians in Taiwan to have been a melting pot of immigrants from various parts of the coast of eastern China that had been migrating to Taiwan by 4,000 B.P. These immigrants included people from the foxtail millet-cultivating Longshan culture of Shandong (with Longshan-type cultures found in southern Taiwan), the fishing-based Dapenkeng culture of coastal Fujian, and the Yuanshan culture of northernmost Taiwan which Blench suggests may have originated from the coast of Guangdong. Based on geography and cultural vocabulary, Blench believes that the Yuanshan people may have spoken Northeast Formosan languages. Thus, Blench believes that there is in fact no “apical” ancestor of Austronesian in the sense that there was no true single Proto-Austronesian language that gave rise to present-day Austronesian languages. Instead, multiple migrations of various pre-Austronesian peoples and languages from the Chinese mainland that were related but distinct came together to form what we now know as Austronesian in Taiwan. Hence, Blench considers the single-migration model to be inconsistent with both the archaeological and linguistic (lexical) evidence.

“Southeast Asian origin” model[edit]

Proposed migration waves from Sundaland in the Late Pleistocene based on mtDNA data; and later “back-migrations” into Island Southeast Asia during the early to mid-Holocene expansion of rice-farming Austronesians from mainland southern China. The extent of the coastlines of Sundaland during the last ice age is presented in light shading; while modern coastlines after the rise of sea levels in the Late Pleistocene to mid-Holocene is in dark shading. (Brandão et al., 2016)

A competing hypothesis to the “Out of Taiwan” model is the “Out of Sundaland” hypothesis, favored by a minority of authors. Notable proponents include William Meacham, Stephen Oppenheimer, and Wilhelm Solheim. For various reasons, they proposed that the homelands of Austronesians were within Island Southeast Asia (ISEA), particularly in the Sundaland landmass drowned during the end of the last glacial period by rising sea levels.[15][91][92]

The Manunggul Jar, a secondary burial jar from around 890-710 BCE excavated from a Neolithic burial site in the Manunggul cave of the Tabon Caves, Palawan

Stephen Oppenheimer‘s studies on Southeast Asian and Pacific genetics, in particular, focused on the discovery of a mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroup that have been evolving in the Indonesian archipelago for more than 40,000 years ago. He concluded that this meant that ancestral populations in the region of Sundaland were the primary ancestors of all Asians who migrated northwards as the sea levels rose, in opposition to the prevailing “Out of Taiwan” hypothesis.[92][93]

In 2008, a study by Soares et al., which included Oppenheimer, examined mtDNA lineages in ISEA and Taiwan and discovered that, at most, only around 20% of modern mtDNA were introduced during the Neolithic. They examined mtDNA Haplogroup E in particular, which they concluded likely evolved from Haplogroup M (specifically Haplogroup M9), that arrived in ISEA more than 50,000 years ago. Although sea level rise was mostly gradual starting from ~19,000 years ago in the last glacial period, other studies have shown that there were likely three episodes of catastrophic rise events at approximately ~14,500, ~11,500, and ~7,500 years ago caused by ice sheet collapse. They concluded that these sudden sea level floodings triggered mass population displacements from ISEA and were the initial conditions that triggered the development of the maritime technologies that later defined Austronesian culture.[94]

Toraja megaliths memorializing the deceased in Sulawesi

In particular they pinpointed the region between the Sulu Sea and the Sulawesi Sea, as the likely point of origin of a pre-adapted maritime culture that expanded north towards Taiwan and east to New Guinea and the Pacific, using the genetic evidence of the dispersal of Haplogroup E as well as putative archeological evidence with the “flake-blade” stone tool assemblages found in the Philippines and Taiwan. However, they also caution that their study only accounts for ~15% of mtDNA lineages in Southeast Asia and that it was not enough pinpoint other directions of dispersal from neighboring groups.[94]

Findings from HUGO (Human Genome Organization) in 2009 further corroborated the studies when it concluded that Asia was populated primarily through a single migration event out of Africa whereby an early population first entered South East Asia before they moved northwards to East Asia.[95][96][97]

However, in 2014, the results of a study by Lipson et al. contradicted these results. Unlike the earlier studies which focused only on mtDNA, the new study used whole genome data, allowing them to study hundreds of thousands of ancestors, not just one lineage. The team was also using more sophisticated statistical analysis methods that allowed the examination of genetic mixing between Southeast Asian populations. The new study found that all ISEA populations had genes originating from the aboriginal Taiwanese. Contrary to the claim of a south-to-north migration in the “Out of Sundaland” hypothesis, the new whole genome analysis strongly confirms the north-to-south dispersal of the Austronesian peoples in the prevailing “Out of Taiwan” hypothesis. The researchers further pointed out that while humans have been living in Sundaland for at least 40,000 years, the Austronesian people were recent arrivals, and the results of the previous studies failed to take into account admixture between them.[93][98]

While people have been in Sundaland for at least 40,000 years, Austronesian-speaking people arrived more recently from the north and continue spreading eastward. I think the scientists who claim an ‘Out of Sundaland’ origin for Austronesians are confusing the ancient presence of humans in Sundaland with the spread of Austronesians

— Mark Stoneking, ‘Out of Sundaland’ Assumption Disproved, Rochmyaningsih, Dyna (28 October 2014). “‘Out of Sundaland’ Assumption Disproved”. Jakarta Globe

Ifugao hogang guardian spirits overlooking the Banaue Rice Terraces in the highlands of Luzon

In 2016, proponents of “Out of Sundaland” in Brandão et al. refined their earlier hypothesis after examining further mtDNA lineages by acknowledging that migrations from Taiwan did occur during the mid to late Holocene. But they proposed that rather than a monolithic “Austronesian expansion” as posited by the “Out of Taiwan” model, it was instead a process of cultural diffusion and assimilation that brought linguistic and cultural changes (particularly rice cultivation) but had relatively minor genetic impact (an average of 20%) on preexisting populations in ISEA. Their study also still concluded that populations from ISEA did expand northwards earlier during the catastrophic rise events of the Late Pleistocene, dispersing into mainland southern China and then into Taiwan. This was concurrent with other migrations of indigenous maritime-oriented ISEA populations entering Taiwan from the south through the Philippines.[99]

Furthermore, they interpret the low genetic contributions of Taiwanese aboriginals to ISEA mtDNA lineags as evidence that Taiwanese aborigines did not contribute significantly to the later southward expansion. Rather the expansion was largely the spread of rice-farming Austronesians from the south China passing through Taiwan at around 7000 to 6000 years ago before entering ISEA again at around ~4.5 thousand years ago. They propose that the admixture of Austronesian genes in Taiwanese populations happened after the Austronesian expansion from southern China, rather than before it.[99]

Evidence from agriculture[edit]

Genomic analysis of cultivated coconut (Cocos nucifera) has shed light on the movements of Austronesian peoples. By examining 10 microsatelite loci, researchers found that there are 2 genetically distinct subpopulations of coconut – one originating in the Indian Ocean, the other in the Pacific Ocean. However, there is evidence of admixture, the transfer of genetic material, between the two populations. Given that coconuts are ideally suited for ocean dispersal, it seems possible that individuals from one population could have floated to the other. However, the locations of the admixture events are limited to Madagascar and coastal east Africa and exclude the Seychelles and Mauritius. Sailing west from Maritime Southeast Asia in the Indian Ocean, the Austronesian peoples reached Madagascar by ca. 50–500 CE, and reached other parts thereafter. This forms a pattern that coincides with the known trade routes of Austronesian sailors. Additionally, there is a genetically distinct sub-population of coconuts on the eastern coast of South America which has undergone a genetic bottleneck resulting from a founder effect; however, its ancestral population is the pacific coconut, which suggests that Austronesian peoples may have sailed as far east as the Americas.[100][43][41]

Formation of tribes and kingdoms[edit]

Queen Liliʻuokalani, the last sovereign monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii

By the beginning of the first millennium CE, most of the Austronesian inhabitants in Maritime Southeast Asia began trading with India and China. The adoption of Hindu statecraft model allowed the creation of Indianized kingdoms such as Tarumanagara, Champa, Langkasuka, Melayu, Srivijaya, Medang Mataram, Majapahit, and Bali. Between the 5th to 15th century Hinduism and Buddhism were established as the main religion in the region.

Borobudur, built under the reign of the Sailendra dynasty, which was bound by dynastic alliance with the city-state of Srivijaya

Muslim traders from the Arabian peninsula were thought to have brought Islam by the 10th century. Islam was established as the dominant religion in the Indonesian archipelago by the 16th century. The Austronesian inhabitants of Polynesia were unaffected by this cultural trade, and retained their indigenous culture in the Pacific region.[101]

Kingdom of Larantuka in Flores, East Nusa Tenggara was the only Christian (Roman Catholic) indigenous kingdom in Indonesia and in Southeast Asia, with the first king named Lorenzo.[102]

Western Europeans in search of spices and gold later colonized most of the Austronesian-speaking countries of the Asia-Pacific region, beginning from the 16th century with the Portuguese and Spanish colonization of some parts of Indonesia (present day East Timor), the Philippines, Palau, Guam, and the Mariana Islands; the Dutch colonization of the Indonesian archipelago; the British colonization of Malaysia and Oceania; the French colonization of French Polynesia; and later, the American governance of the Pacific.

Meanwhile, the British, Germans, French, Americans, and Japanese began establishing spheres of influence within the Pacific Islands during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The Japanese later invaded most of Southeast Asia and some parts of the Pacific during World War II. The latter half of the 20th century initiated independence of modern-day Indonesia, Malaysia, East Timor and many of the Pacific Island nations, as well as the re-independence of the Philippines.

Culture[edit]

A kanaka maoli (native) from Hawaii performing the hula

A Balinese from Indonesia dances the barong

A Malay couple dance to joget music

A young Māori man from New Zealand (Aotearoa) performs in a kapa haka group

The native culture of Austronesia varies from region to region. The early Austronesian peoples considered the sea as the basic feature of their life.[citation needed] Following their diaspora to Southeast Asia and Oceania, they migrated by boat to other islands. Boats of different sizes and shapes have been found in every Austronesian culture, from Madagascar, Maritime Southeast Asia, to Polynesia, and have different names.
In Southeast Asia, head-hunting was restricted to the highlands as a result of warfare. Mummification is only found among the highland Austronesian Filipinos, and in some Indonesian groups in Celebes and Borneo.

Decimal numbers 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
PAN, circa 4000 BC *isa *DuSa *telu *Sepat *lima *enem *pitu *walu *Siwa *puluq
Amis cecay tosa tolo sepat, spat lima enem pito falo siwa polo’
Bunun tasa dusa tau pat lima num pitu vau siva masan
Tao (Yami) ása dóa, dadoa, raroa tílo, atlo ápat líma, alima ánem píto, apito wáo, awao síam, asiam póo
Ivatan asa’ dua, dadwa’ tatdu’, atdu’ apat dima, dadima anim, anem pitu’, papitu’ wawahu’ siam, sasyam puho’ (asa puho’)
Chamorro maisa, håcha hugua tulu fatfat lima gunum fiti guålu sigua fulu, månot
Tuwali Ifugao oha dua tulu opat lima onom pitu walu hiyam pulu (himpulu)
Kankanaey esa doa, dua tolo opat, upat lima enem pito wao siyam po (sinpo, simpo)
Ilocano maysá dua talló uppát limá inném pitó waló siam púlo (sangapúlo)
Tagalog isá dalawá tatló ápat limá ánim pitó waló siyám pu (sampu, isang pu)
Cebuano usá duhá tuló upat limá unom pitó waló siyám pulo (napulo)
Hiligaynon isá duhá tatló apat limá anum pitó waló siyám pulo
Tausug isa duwa tū, tuw upat lima unum pitu walu siyam pu (hangpu)
Kadazan iso duvo tohu apat himo onom tu’ vahu sizam hopod
Dusun iso duwo tolu apat limo onom tulu walu siyam hopod
Lundayeh aceh due telu apat lime enam tudu walu yiwa puluh
Malagasy iray, isa roa telo efatra dimy enina fito valo sivy folo
Indonesian satu, suatu[103] dua tiga[104][105] empat lima[106] enam tujuh delapan[107] sembilan sepuluh
Malay satu, sa dua tiga[108] empat lima enam tujuh lapan sembilan sepuluh
Javanese siji loro telu papat limo nem pitu wolu songo sepuluh
Sundanese hiji dua tilu opat lima genep tujuh dalapan salapan sapuluh
Tetum ida rua tolu haat lima neen hitu ualu sia sanulu
Keiese sa ru tel faak lim nean fit wau siuw vut
Kapingamarangi dahi lua dolu haa lima ono hidu walu hiwa madangaholu
Fijian dua rua tolu lima ono vitu walu ciwa tini
Tongan taha ua tolu nima ono fitu valu hiva -fulu
Sāmoan tasi lua tolu lima ono fitu valu iva sefulu
Māori tahi rua toru whā rima ono whitu waru iwa tekau (archaic: ngahuru)
Tahitian hō’ē piti toru maha pae ono hitu va’u iva ‘ahuru
Marquesan e tahi e ‘ua e to’u e fa e ‘ima e ono e fitu e va’u e iva ‘onohu’u
Hawaiian kahi lua kolu lima ono hiku walu iwa -‘umi
Rapa Nui tahi rua toru ha rima ono hitu va’u, varu iva angahuru

Writing[edit]

Left: Petroglyph on the western coast of Hawaii. Petroglyphs were symbolic, but could not encode language. Right: An Austronesian abugida known as Baybayin from the Philippines.

With the possible exception of rongorongo on Easter Island, writing among pre-modern Austronesians was limited to the Indianized states and the sultanates of Maritime Southeast Asia. These systems included abugidas from the Brahmic family, such as Baybayin, the Javanese script, and Old Kawi, and abjads derived from the Arabic script such as Jawi.

Since the 20th century, new scripts were mostly alphabets adapted from the Latin alphabet, as in the Hawaiian alphabet, Filipino alphabet, and Malay alphabet; however, several Formosan languages had been written in zhuyin, and Cia-Cia off Sulawesi has experimented with hangul.

Arts[edit]

Left: A young Bontoc man from the Philippines (c. 1908) with tattoos on the chest and arms (chaklag). These indicated that the man was a warrior who had taken heads during battle.[109]
Right: A young Māori woman with traditional tattoos (moko) on the lips and chin (c. 1860–1879). These were symbols of status and rank, as well as being considered marks of beauty.

Body art among Austronesian peoples is common, especially elaborate tattooing which has ancient origins.[110] It is particularly prominent in Polynesian cultures, from where the word “tattoo” derives. But tattooing is also prominent among Austronesian groups in Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia.[111]

Among the Māori of New Zealand, tattoos (moko) were originally carved into the skin using bone chisels (uhi) rather than through puncturing as in usual practice.[112] In addition to being pigmented, the skin was also left raised into ridges of swirling patterns.[113]

In the Philippines, the Spanish called the Filipinos they first encountered in the Visayas as the Pintados, (“the painted ones” or “the tattooed ones”)[114] due to their practice of tattooing their entire bodies.[115] Tattooing traditions were mostly lost as the natives of the islands converted to Christianity and Islam, though they were still practised in isolated groups in the highlands of Luzon and Mindanao. Philippine tattoos were usually geometric patterns or stylized depictions of animals, plants, and human figures.[116][117][118] Some of the few remaining traditional tattoos in the Philippines are from elders of the Igorot peoples. Most of these were records of war exploits against the Japanese during World War II.[119]

Decorated jars and other forms of pottery are also common, with patterns often resembling those used in tattoos. Austronesian peoples living close to mainland Asia were also influenced by Chinese, Indian, and Arabic art forms.

Architecture[edit]

Austronesian Vernacular Stilt house is the native cultural houses of Austronesian people. Every Austronesian country has their own name and style for their own Austronesian houses. In the Philippines these are called Bahay kubo with many styles and variants, in Indonesia these are called Rumah adat also with many variants, and in Malaysia these are called Rumah Melayu which are also found in Indonesia and part of the Rumah Adat family.

Religion[edit]

Left: A troupe of Bahau Dayak performers during the Hudoq festival (Harvest festival) in Kalimantan, Indonesia). (c. 1898–1900)
Right: Balinese small familial house shrines to honor the households’ ancestor in Bali island, Indonesia.

Adu zatua ancestor carvings of the Nias people of western Indonesia

Indigenous religions were initially predominant. Mythologies vary by culture and geographical location, but are generally bound by the belief in an all-powerful divinity. Other beliefs such as ancestor worship, animism, and shamanism are also practiced. Currently, many of these beliefs have gradually been replaced. Examples of native religions include: Anito, Gabâ, Sunda Wiwitan, Kejawen, and the Māori religion. The moai of the Rapa Nui is another example since they are built to represent deceased ancestors.

Southeast Asian contact with India and China allowed the introduction of Hinduism and Buddhism. Later, Muslim traders introduced the Islamic faith between the periods of the 10th, and 13th century. The European Age of Discovery, brought Christianity to various parts of the region, including both New Zealand and Australia. Currently, the dominant religions are Christianity in the Philippines, much of eastern Indonesia, some parts of Indonesian Sumatra and Borneo, East Timor, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, most of the Pacific Islands, and Madagascar; Islam found in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, southern Thailand, the southern Philippines and Brunei; Hinduism in Singapore, Bali, and some parts of Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines. There is also a tiny population in Manado on the island of Sulawesi who professed Judaism, most of whom either have Jewish ancestry who later mixed with the indigenous Minahasans or are converts.

Music[edit]

Traditional instruments of Gamelan, from the Indonesian Embassy in Canberra, Australia

The Slit drums is an indigenous Austronesian musical instrument that were invented and used by the Southeast Asian-Austronesian, and Oceanic-Austronesian ethnic groups.

Gong ensembles are also a common musical heritage of Island Southeast Asia. The casting of gong instruments are believed to have originated from the Bronze Age cultures of Mainland Southeast Asia. It spread to Austronesian islands initially through trade as prestige goods. However, Mainland Asian gongs were never used in ensembles. The innovation of using gong sets is uniquely Austronesian. Gong ensembles are found in western Malayo-Polynesian groups, though they never penetrated much further east. There are roughly two gong ensemble traditions among Austronesians, which also produced gongs in ancient times.[77]

In western Island Southeast Asia, these traditions are collectively known as Gamelan and is centered on the island of Java in Indonesia. It includes the Celempung of the Malay Peninsula, Talempung of northern Sumatra, Caklempung of central Sumatra, Chalempung of southern Sumatra, Bonang of Java, Kromong of western Kalimantan, Engkromong of Sarawak, and Trompong of western Nusa Tenggara.[77]

In eastern Island Southeast Asia, these traditions are known as Kulintang and is centered in Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago of the southern Philippines. It includes the Kulintangan of Sabah and Palawan, Kolintang of northern Sulawesi, Kulintang of Halmahera and Timor, and the Totobuang of the southern Maluku Islands.[77]

Genetic studies[edit]

Genetic studies have been done on the people and related groups.[120] The Haplogroup O1 (Y-DNA)a-M119 genetic marker is frequently detected in Native Taiwanese, northern Philippines and Polynesians, as well as some people in Indonesia, Malaysia and non-Austronesian populations in southern China.[121]
A 2007 analysis of the DNA recovered from human remains in archeological sites of prehistoric peoples along the Yangtze River in China also shows high frequencies of Haplogroup O1 in the Neolithic Liangzhu culture, linking them to Austronesian and Tai-Kadai peoples. The Liangzhu culture existed in coastal areas around the mouth of the Yangtze. Haplogroup O1 was absent in other archeological sites inland. The authors of the study suggest that this may be evidence of two different human migration routes during the peopling of Eastern Asia; one coastal and the other inland, with little genetic flow between them.[122]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Some authors that support an ISEA origin of Austronesians, however, have proposed that they may have later been the original developers of the maritime culture that later characterized Austronesians, during several rapid sea level rise events that took place near the end of the last glacial period that flooded the landmasses in Southeast Asia. Developing the catamaran originally from lashing two canoes, which eventually became the prototype for the numerous types of water vessels of the Austronesians, as well as the Chinese chuán, after northward migrations of Negrito populations in the Neolithic (Mahdi, 2017).
  2. ^ The absence of Denisovan admixture in western Southeast Asian populations seem to indicate that interbreeding between modern humans and Denisovans happened within Southeast Asia itself, possibly east of the Wallace Line, and not in mainland Eurasia (Reich et al., 2011; Cooper & Stringer, 2013)

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