Introduction / History The Lanoh are one of the nineteen Orang Asli people groups living in Peninsular Malaysia. They have been classified under the Semang (officially called Negrito) subgroup.
Lanoh refers to a number of different but closely related peoples such as the Semnam, the Sabum, and the Lanoh Yir. Most are mostly dark-skinned and frizzy-haired. Their features resemble the Papua New Guinean or east African people.
The Lanoh were once a nomadic tribe, but many have now settled down in permanent villages located at the foot of mountain ranges in the Hulu Perak district of Perak.
What are their lives like? In the past, the Lanoh were hunter-gatherers. They used the caves as shelters during hunting trips. Some of these caves have been discovered in the state of Perak. Charcoal drawings inside the caves' walls depict the daily lifestyle of the Lanoh. Apart from the charcoal drawings, they made pictures by carving away the limestone rock. These "modern" art drawings are about 100 years old. They feature simple men engaged in common activities such as hunting, and riding horses and elephants. A man can be seen carrying a pole laden with coconuts. The drawings also feature animals such as leaf monkeys, monitor lizards, and porcupines - all sources of good food! The Lanoh are still found in Perak today. A fair number of Lanoh are still semi-nomadic, preferring to take advantage of the seasonal bounties of the forest. They gather their daily supply of needs from the jungle and river.
A few Lanoh also live in urban areas and are engaged in both hourly-waged and salaried jobs - generally working on rubber and oil palm estates. Ironically, they seem to survive best in isolation. Mainstreaming and attempts to settle them down and convert them to modern living in the industrial world have had disastrous consequences on their lives.
What are their beliefs? For the Lanoh people, religious sentiments are based on naturalism - the belief that plants and animals energize the world with their own spirituality, bestowing upon humans a humbling experience of bondage and love for nature. Humans must live in symbiotic union with other living things. Therefore, fear of the spirits of dead ancestors and hunted animals is very strong among the Lanoh people. They also practice an unwritten law that all animals caught in the forest should suffer no pain while in captivity.
What are their needs? Many Lanoh still gather their daily supply of needs from the jungle and river. But this is often difficult since the forests have become thin. Pray that the Lanoh will continue to find adequate natural resources for their needs. At the same time, pray for local believers who will relate and respond to the inner needs of the Lanoh.