Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Malays, a main branch of the Mongolic. division of mankind, who form either the substratum or the dominant element everywhere in the Malay peninsula, in most of the Eastern Archipelago, in Madagascar, the Philippine Islands, and Formosa. But in this oceanic domain there has been a great intermingling of peoples for ages, and in the midst of so much ethnical confusion it becomes extremely difficult to determine the salient features of the primitive Malay type. Hence the discrepancies in the descriptions, even of scientific observers, although that given by A. R. Wallace may, on the whole, be accepted as, perhaps, coming nearest to the truth: short stature, brown skin, straight black hair, beardless and smeoth-bodied, with broad face, flat evebrows, small nose; reserved but courteous, and of cold, undemonstrative temperament, except when roused to uncontrollable fury under some sudden religious or jealous impulse, when the outburst takes the well-known form of" running amuck." The true Malays are found concentrated chiefly in the Malay Peninsula, in central and south Sumatra, Java, Bali, Lombok, the Borneo coastlands, Tidor, Ternate, and the Banda Islands. They are excellent agriculturists, but most inclined to seafaring as traders, and (till recently) corsairs. Some branches, especially in Java and Sumatra, arrived at a considerable degree of culture at an early period under Hindu influences, and the Bali and Lombok islanders are still Hindus in religion; but all the rest of the civilised Malays have been Mohammedans since the close of the 15th century, except those of the Philippine archipelago, most of whom are Roman Catholics. But the uncivilised groups, chiefly found in the interior of Formosa, the Malay peninsula, North Sumatra, Borneo, Celebes, Halmahera, and some of the smaller Sunda Islands, are still pagans often at a very low stage of culture, headhunters, cannibals, savages in the strict sense of the word. Many of these peoples, however, although usually spoken of as Malays, are not Malays but Indonesians, rather of Caucasic than of Mongolic type, and have little in common with the true Malays except their common Malayo-Polynesian language. [Indonesians.] The Malay branch of this stock language is extremely simple and harmonious, and has obtained currency as a sort of lingua franca throughout the whole of Malaysia, It has long been cultivated and is written in the Arabic character, which is little suited for the purpose; but the literature, though copious, lacks originality, having been developed mainly under Hindu and Mohammedan influences. There is, however, a good deal of national poetry,. as well as folk-lore, legends, and romances, which have at least a decided local colouring. (A. E. Wallace, The Malay Archipelago, 1860; Rosenberg, The Folk-lore of the Malays, in Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1881; Logan's writings; A. H. Keane, The Malay Race, in Encyclopedia Britannica, xv.)