Great Andamanese couple, in an 1876 photograph.
Regions with significant populations
(Luzon, Palawan, Panay, Negros, Cebu, and Mindanao)
India India
(Andaman and Nicobar Islands)
Malaysia Malaysia
(Peninsular Malaysia)
Thailand Thailand
(Southern Thailand)

Burma Burma
(Southern Burma)



Related ethnic groups

Australoid race, Melanesians

Negrito group photo (Malaysia, 1905).
Negritos in a fishing boat (Philippines, 1899).

The Negrito are a class of several ethnic groups who inhabit isolated parts of Southeast Asia.[1]

Their current populations include 12 Andamanese peoples of the Andaman Islands, six Semang peoples of Malaysia, the Mani of Thailand, and the Aeta, Agta, Ati, and 30 other peoples of the Philippines. Reports from British traders also speak of negrito people on Borneo (Sarawak). (Journal of the Malayan Branch Royal Asiatic Society, Vol. XXIX, part 1, 1956)

Negritos share some common physical features with African pygmy populations, including short stature, natural afro-hair texture, and dark skin; however, their origin and the route of their migration to Asia is still a matter of great speculation. They are the most genetically distant human population from Africans at most loci studied thus far (except for MC1R, which codes for dark skin).

They have also been shown to have separated early from Asians, suggesting that they are either surviving descendants of settlers from an early migration out of Africa, commonly referred to as the Proto-Australoids, or that they are descendants of one of the founder populations of modern humans.[2]



The term "Negrito" is the Spanish diminutive of negro, i.e. "little black person", referring to their small stature, and was coined by early European explorers.[3]

Occasionally, some Negritos are referred to as pygmies, bundling them with peoples of similar physical stature in Central Africa, and likewise, the term Negrito was previously occasionally used to refer to African Pygmies.[4]


Being among the least-known of all living human groups, the origins of the Negrito people is a much debated topic. The Malay term for them is orang asli, or original people.

They are likely descendants of the indigenous Australoid populations of the Sunda landmass and New Guinea, predating the Austronesian Mongoloid peoples who later entered Southeast Asia.[5]

Alternatively, some scientists claim they are merely a group of Australo-Melanesians who have undergone island dwarfing over thousands of years, reducing their food intake in order to cope with limited resources and adapt to a tropical rainforest environment.

Anthropologist Jared Diamond in his bestselling book, Guns, Germs, and Steel suggests that the Negritos are possible ancestors of the Aboriginal Australians and Papuans of New Guinea, groups regarded as Australoid.

A number of features would seem to suggest a common origin for the Negritos and African pygmies, especially in the Andamanese Islanders who have been isolated from incoming waves of Asiatic and Indo-Aryan peoples. No other living human population has experienced such long-lasting isolation from contact with other groups.[6]

Negrito warriors posing for a diorama (Philippines, 1899).

These features include short stature, very dark skin, woolly hair, scant body hair and occasional steatopygia. The claim that Andamanese pygmoids more closely resemble Africans than Asians in their cranial morphology in a 1973 study added some weight to this theory before genetic studies pointed to a closer relationship with Asians.[6]

Other more recent studies have shown closer craniometric affinities to Egyptians and Europeans than to Sub Saharan populations such as that of African Pygmies. Walter Neves' study of the Lagoa Santa people had the incidental correlation of showing Andamanese as classifying closer to Egyptians and Europeans than any Sub Saharan population.[7][8]

Multiple studies also show that Negritos from Southeast Asia to New Guinea share a closer cranial affinity with Australo-Melanesians.[5][9] Further evidence for Asian ancestry is in craniometric markers such as sundadonty, shared by Asian and Negrito populations.

It has been suggested that the craniometric similarities to Asians could merely indicate a level of interbreeding between Negritos and later waves of people arriving from the Asian mainland. This hypothesis is not supported by genetic evidence that has shown the level of isolation populations such as the Andamanese have had.

However, some studies have suggested that each group should be considered separately, as the genetic evidence refutes the notion of a specific shared ancestry between the "Negrito" groups of the Andaman Islands, Malay Peninsula, and Philippines.[10]

While earlier studies, such as that of WW Howell, allied Andamanese craniometrically with Africans, they did not have recourse to genetic studies.[5] Later genetic and craniometric (mentioned earlier) studies have found more genetic affinities with Asians and Polynesians.[6]

A study on blood groups and proteins in the 1950s suggested that the Andamanese were more closely related to Oceanic peoples than Africans. Genetic studies on Philippine Negritos, based on polymorphic blood enzymes and antigens, showed they were similar to surrounding Asian populations.[6] Genetic testing places all the Onge and all but two of the Great Andamanese in the mtDNA Haplogroup M, found in East Africa, East Asia, and South Asia, suggesting that the Negritos are at least partly descended from a migration originating in eastern Africa as much as 60,000 years ago. This migration is hypothesized to have followed a coastal route through India and into Southeast Asia, which is sometimes referred to as the Great Coastal Migration.

Ati girl (Philippines, 2007)

Analysis of mtDNA coding sites indicated that these Andamanese fall into a subgroup of M not previously identified in human populations in Africa and Asia. These findings suggest an early split from the population of African migrants whose descendants would eventually populate the entire habitable world.[6] Haplogroup C and haplogroup D is believed to represent Y-DNA in the migration.[11]

Historical distribution

Negritos may have also possibly lived in Taiwan, where they were called the "Little Black People". Apart from being short-statured, they were also said to be broad-nosed and dark-skinned with curly hair.[12] The little black population shrank to the point up to 100 years ago only one small group lived near the Saisiyat tribe.[12] A festival celebrated by the Saisiyat gives evidence to their formal habitation of Taiwan. The Saisiyat tribe celebrate the black people in a festival called Ritual of the Little Black People (矮靈祭).[12]

After the negritos on Taiwan, thousands of years before any Han came to Taiwan in 1600, the Aboriginal Austronesians moved into Taiwan. Estimates of their arrival date from 6,000-1,000 years ago from the Malay Archipelago, although it is controversial. Chinese historians called them "black dwarfs" in the Three Kingdoms period (AD 220 to AD 280) and they were still to be found in China during the Qing dynasty (1644 to 1911). There are other stories about them in other aboriginals[13] and some archeological sites are attributed to them.[14]

According to James J.Y. Liu, a professor of comparative literature, the Chinese term Kun-lun (Chinese: 崑崙) means Negrito.[15] There are many stories about them.[16] Shandao, Geji (戈基), Juho, Wa and Koro-pok-guru peoples, are also said to be pygmies.[17] Haplogroup D (Y-DNA) are found frequently among some peoples living in the same area. In China, stone coffins were used by these peoples.[18]

See also


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

  1. ^ Snow, Philip. The Star Raft: China's Encounter With Africa. Cornell Univ. Press, 1989 (ISBN 0801495830)
  2. ^ Kashyap VK, Sitalaximi T, Sarkar BN, Trivedi R (2003), "Molecular relatedness of the aboriginal groups of Andaman and Nicobar Islands with similar ethnic populations" (PDF), The International Journal of Human Genetics 3: 5–11, 
  3. ^ William Marsden (1834). "On the Polynesian, or East-Insular Languages". Miscellaneous works of William Marsden. Pub. for the Author by Parbury, Allen. p. 4. 
  4. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, 1910–1911: "Second are the large Negrito family, represented in Africa by the dwarf-races of the equatorial forests, the Akkas, Batwas, Wochuas and others..." (pg. 851)
  5. ^ a b c Getting Here: The Story of Human Evolution, William Howells, Compass Press, 1993
  6. ^ a b c d e Thangaraj, Kumarasamy; et al. (21 January 2003), "Genetic Affinities of the Andaman Islanders, a Vanishing Human Population", Current Biology 13, Number 2: 86–93(8), 
  7. ^ 2 Fig. 2 Morphological Affinities, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2 [dead link]
  8. ^ Morphological Afinities, averaging graphs A through D,, 
  9. ^ David Bulbeck; Pathmanathan Raghavan and Daniel Rayner (2006), "Races of Homo sapiens: if not in the southwest Pacific, then nowhere", World Archaeology (Taylor & Francis) 38 (1): 109–132, doi:10.1080/00438240600564987, ISSN 0043-8243, JSTOR 40023598, 
  10. ^ Catherine Hill1; Pedro Soares, Maru Mormina1, Vincent Macaulay, William Meehan, James Blackburn, Douglas Clarke, Joseph Maripa Raja, Patimah Ismail, David Bulbeck, Stephen Oppenheimer, Martin Richards (2006), "Phylogeography and Ethnogenesis of Aboriginal Southeast Asians", Molecular Biology and Evolution (Oxford University Press), 
  11. ^ 走向遠東的兩個現代人種
  12. ^ a b c Jules Quartly (Sat, Nov 27, 2004). "In honor of the Little Black People". Taipei Times: p. 16. Retrieved May 22, 2011. 
  13. ^ 一場古老傳說的追索冒險---尋找矮黑人系列(一) - PeoPo 公民新聞
  14. ^ NOWnews【旅遊新聞】探訪台灣矮黑人遺址(1)/只「活」在詩歌傳說中的民族
  15. ^ Liu, James J.Y. The Chinese Knight Errant. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1967 (ISBN 0-2264-8688-5)
  16. ^ 【神秘世界】古今中外小矮人真实记录 (上)
  17. ^ 赣南“赣巨人”“木客” 识考
  18. ^ 也談番子鬼和山都木客(附圖)與大禹

Further reading

  • Evans, Ivor Hugh Norman. The Negritos of Malaya. Cambridge [Eng.]: University Press, 1937.
  • Garvan, John M., and Hermann Hochegger. The Negritos of the Philippines. Wiener Beitrage zur Kulturgeschichte und Linguistik, Bd. 14. Horn: F. Berger, 1964.
  • Hurst Gallery. Art of the Negritos. Cambridge, Mass: Hurst Gallery, 1987.
  • Khadizan bin Abdullah, and Abdul Razak Yaacob. Pasir Lenggi, a Bateq Negrito Resettlement Area in Ulu Kelantan. Pulau Pinang: Social Anthropology Section, School of Comparative Social Sciences, Universití Sains Malaysia, 1974.
  • Schebesta, P., & Schütze, F. (1970). The Negritos of Asia. Human relations area files, 1-2. New Haven, Conn: Human Relations Area Files.
  • Zell, Reg. About the Negritos - A Bibliography. edition blurb, 2011.
  • Zell, Reg. Negritos of the Philippines -The People of the Bamboo - Age - A Socio-Ecological Model. edition blurb, 2011.
  • Zell, Reg. John M. Garvan - An Investigation - On the Negritos of Tayabas. edition blurb, 2011.

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • négrito — ⇒NÉGRITO, subst. et adj. ANTHROPOL. (Individu) qui appartient à une race noire de petite taille vivant dans l archipel malais. La race négroïde inclut (...) divers groupes de pygmées, tels que les négritos des Philippines (LOWIE, Anthropol. cult …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • negrito — NEGRÍTO s. n. pigmei din sud estul Asiei, aparţinând rasei negrid australide. (< fr. négrito) Trimis de raduborza, 15.09.2007. Sursa: MDN …   Dicționar Român

  • negrito — negrito, ta (Del dim. de negro). 1. adj. coloq. El Salv. Muy empeñado o entusiasmado por conseguir algo que desea. 2. m. Pájaro de la isla de Cuba de color negro intenso, con algunas plumas blancas en las alas, y a veces encima de los ojos. Su… …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • Negrīto — Negrīto, der westliche der beiden Zweige (der andre sind die Papua), in die sich die negerähnlichen Völker im Stillen und Indischen Ozean trennen. Wir finden sie auf dem größten Teil der Philippinen, auf den Suluinseln, Dschilolo und Halmahera,… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • negrito — negrȉto m <N mn osi> DEFINICIJA antrop. 1. prastanovnik Filipina i Malajskog poluotoka 2. pripadnik crne rase i srodnih tipova karakterističnog niskog rasta ETIMOLOGIJA šp. negro: crn …   Hrvatski jezični portal

  • negrito — sustantivo masculino 1. (macho y hembra) Lessonia rufa. Ave parecida al canario, de color negro, que vive en América del Sur …   Diccionario Salamanca de la Lengua Española

  • Negrito — [nə grēt′ō] n. pl. Negritos or Negritoes [Sp, dim. of negro, black, NEGRO1: in allusion to their small stature & dark skin] a member of any of certain dark skinned peoples of short stature living in Oceania and SE Asia …   English World dictionary

  • Negrito — Frau von der „Negrito“ Ethnie der Ati auf Panay, Philippinen Negritos (span. Verkleinerungsform von negro „schwarz“, vgl. „Neger“) ist eine Sammelbezeichnung für mehrere dunkelhäutige, kraushaarige und kleinwüchsige Ethnien in Süd und Südostasien …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Negrito — ► adjetivo 1 ANTROPOLOGÍA Se aplica a un grupo étnico semejante a los pigmeos, que habitan en el archipiélago filipino. ► sustantivo 2 Persona que pertenece a este grupo. ► sustantivo masculino 3 Cuba ZOOLOGÍA Ave paseriforme de la familia de los …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Négrito — Négritos Carte des populations de négritos, avec une hypothèse sur leurs anciennes régions d habitation. Le terme Négritos désigne des populations de petite taille et à peau noire vivant dans le sud est asiatique. Ces populations sont regroupées… …   Wikipédia en Français

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