SINKING A SAILING SEA, by Olivia Wyatt
Ken = Water
This enchanting and, beautifully filmed documentary unveils the Moken, a nomadic people living on the Andaman Sea eight months of the year.
The film unveils an engrossing underwater world that allows us to learn a few things about the sea and survival. Watching the rare Moken society, you’re in disbelief that a group of people can remain so innocent in this world today. Fishing, cooking, eating, building and repairing their boats is their life. There is no pretense of schooling, reading, writing.
Sailing a Sinking Sea gives us a brief glimpse into an existence far removed from the modern world. The Moken are sweet-natured people who live in a world of make-believe, ghosts, evil gods, living myths, legends, and shamans.
The Moken are also equality-minded people. No last names are used in the culture and there is no record of age. Surprisingly, they do live by a few strict rules. Girls can marry when they start growing breasts. Boys can marry once they build a boat of their own. If he cannot build a boat on his own, he cannot marry. There is no ceremony. When a couple falls in love and the boat is built, the girl receives three silver bracelets and the boy a sarapi.
The legend of the Moken, we learn, says the island was once covered by a wave. Only two people, a man, and a woman survived. They had one dog and one cat and eventually produced twelve children.
I am still curious about a few things seen in the doc, like, how do the people have electricity, colorful clothes, plastic toys and even a small tv set? True, they didn’t have a lot of modern items, but even the few I saw had me asking, how’d they get these?
Today there are only 3,000 Moken left. Olivia Wyatt’s documentary characterizes a little-known people who survive solely on human instinct, the law of the sea, and basics: food, shelter, water, family. Sadly, their existence is being threatened by the decline of fish and shells in the sea. One sage Moken surmised, “This is the last generation of Moken.”