- Photographer Réhahn lived among the seafaring Bajau tribe learning about their aquatic lives
- The sea gipsies spend most of their time on boats or stilted huts, diving and spearfishing
- Most can’t read or write, and have little concept of time, but welcomed him generously into their homes
They are not recognised by neighbouring countries, do not know their ages, and have little concept of reading or writing.
The Bajau people are known as the ‘sea gipsies,’ as they spend most of their time living on boats and working in the turquoise Pacific Ocean.
Photographer Réhahn spent eight days among the sea nomad children in Borneo, learning about their fascinating aquatic lives.
Like a fish! The Bajau children in Borneo spend time on boats from an early age, and begin their hunting around the age of eight
French photographer, Réhahn, 35, said the friendly children loved him taking their pictures and seemed happy to see a foreigner
Réhahn uses a Canon 5d Mark III to capture his stunning pictures, and spent eight days living among the tribe to learn about their lives
The Bajau live in small boats or stilted huts, relying on their extensive knowledge of the ocean to make a living through fishing.
The young children learn from a young age how to swim or dive, and start their hunting as young as eight years old.
Despite many of them not knowing their ages, or written communication, Réhahn described the peace and serenity that emanated from the water tribe.
‘The children are like fish in the sea. Young children are sometimes on the boat alone, but all seemed very happy to see a foreigner,’ the 35-year-old French photographer said.
‘Children were jumping from a wooden bridge and they wanted me to take their photo. They were perfect models.’
The Bajau tribe’s beliefs centre around a combination of animism and Islam, with their relationship with the ocean and its inhabitants being at the heart of the nomads’ existence.
Happy and content! Réhahn said the sea gipsies were like fish in the water, and spent a lot of their time jumping happily into the water from a bridge
Due to extended periods under the surface, the sea nomads have an enhanced underwater-vision, perfect for spearfishing
Réhahn said: ‘When I arrived, children jumped on the boat to come near me. Some families invited me to their house’
Being around water from a young age results in the best divers being able to stay submerged at depths of 20 metres for several minutes, while they hunt for fish.
The hunter-gathers mainly use spearfishing to get their produce, but can dive for pearls and sea cucumbers.
Studies have shown that youngsters have exceptionally good underwater-vision due to being constantly in the ocean environment.
As diving is such a big part of their lives, often their ear drums rapture at an early age.
Regardless of their age, everyone in the Bajau tribe has a place and helps in some way to catch the fish
Splashing around! Bajau children enjoy their water existence and play in the turquoise waves
The best divers are able to stay underwater at depths of 20 metres for several minutes, while they hunt for fish
Réhahn, who has over 180,000 fans of his work on his fan page, said: ‘They are very welcoming and friendly. When I arrived, children jumped on the boat to come near me. Some families invited me to their house.’
Although some of the seafaring tribe are born on the ocean and never live on the land, more frequently the sea gypsies are heading to the shore for trade and to gather materials to build boats.
Réhahn said the Bajau roughly know about age but time doesn’t matter much to them, and they live in the present, and live only for and by the water.
Some female sea gipsies give birth on their huts with stilts, although many come to land to trade and get supplies, there are a small number who have lived entirely on the ocean throughout their whole lives
The tribe’s beliefs centre around a combination of animism and Islam, with their relationship with the ocean and its inhabitants being at the heart of their existence
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