Among Sea Gypsies of the Andaman Sea, If a Man Can’t Build a Boat, He Can’t Get Married
by Owen James Burke
Screenshot from Jungles in Paris’ vimeo clip, “I Met My Husband in the Middle of the Sea”
In some cultures there’s dowry. In others, a man is deemed eligible to marry a woman if her father is satisfied with his income or the size of his bank account. The Moken, considered to be among the last of the “sea gypsies,” are a sea-dwelling group of people in the Andaman Sea between Myanmar and Thailand. In their culture, a man must build a boat — by himself before he may propose.
Women, meanwhile, are allowed to marry once they develop breasts. Sure, it may seem like they get off easy on the front end, but they’ll have their work cut out for them when it comes time to raise and support children at sea.
Read more about the Moken in an interview with author and Scuttlefish friend James Nestor, who visited them during his research for DEEP, his bestselling book on free diving. — OJB