|Regions with significant populations|
(Andaman and Nicobar Islands)
(Luzon, Palawan, Panay, Negros, and Mindanao)
The Negrito (//) are several ethnic groups who inhabit isolated parts of Southeast Asia. Their current populations include Andamanese peoples of the Andaman Islands, Semang peoples of Malaysia, the Mani of Thailand, and the Aeta, Agta, Ati, and 30 other peoples of the Philippines.
The Negrito peoples are believed to descend from ancient Australoid-Melanesian settlers of Southeast Asia. Genetically, these peoples also show similarities to their neighboring populations. The appropriateness of using the label 'Negrito' to bundle together peoples of different ethnicity based on similarities in stature and complexion has been challenged.
The word "Negrito" is the Spanish diminutive of negro, used to mean "little black person". This usage was coined by 16th-century Spanish missionaries operating in the Philippines, and was borrowed by other European travellers and colonialists across southeast Asia to label various peoples perceived as sharing relatively small physical stature and dark skin. Contemporary usage of an alternative Spanish epithet, Negrillos, also tended to bundle these peoples with the pygmy peoples of Central Africa, based on perceived similarities in stature and complexion. (Historically, the label Negrito has occasionally been used also to refer to African Pygmies.)
It has frequently been postulated that Negrito peoples descend from Australoid Melanesian settlers of Southeast Asia. Despite being isolated, the different peoples do share genetic similarities with their neighboring populations. They also show relevant phenotypic (anatomic) variations which require explanation.
A number of features would seem to suggest a common origin for the Negritos and Negrillos (African Pygmies). No other living human population has experienced such long-lasting isolation from contact with other groups.[clarification needed]
Features of the Negrito include short stature, 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 study of 1973 added some weight to this theory, before genetic studies pointed to a closer relationship with Asians.
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 which populations such as the Andamanese have experienced. 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, the Malay Peninsula, and the Philippines.
A study of 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. However, 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 60,000 years ago. This migration is hypothesized to have followed a coastal route through India and into Southeast Asia, and is sometimes called the Great Coastal Migration.
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 migrants from Africa whose descendants would eventually populate the entire habitable world. Haplogroup C-M130, Haplogroup O-2 seen in dark-skinned Negritos like the Semang of Malaysia and Phillipeans Negritos, and haplogroup D-M174 are believed to represent Y-DNA in the migration.
A recent genetic study found that unlike other early groups in Malesia, Andamanese Negritos lack the Denisovan hominin admixture in their DNA. Denisovan ancestry is found among indigenous Melanesian and Australian populations between 4–6%.
Negritos may have also lived in Taiwan. The Negrito population shrank to the point that, up to 100 years ago, only one small group lived near the Saisiyat tribe. Evidence for to their former habitation is a Saisiyat festival celebrating the black people in a festival called Pas-ta'ai.
Vietnamese people have many racial and ethnic sources, including Mongolian, Chinese, Thai, Negrito, Melanesian, and Austro-Asian, not just Lac Viet as sometimes claimed by Vietnamese themselves. Semang Negritos are believed to be descended from Hoabinhian people. Ancient Mongoloid, Negrito, Indonesian, Melanesian, and Australoid remains have been found in Vietnam.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Negrito.|
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- Mirante, Edith (2014) "The Wind in the Bamboo: Journeys in Search of Asia's 'Negrito' Indigenous Peoples" Bangkok, Orchid Press.
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|Wikisource has the text of the 1879 American Cyclopædia article Negritos.|
- Filipiniana.net: "Negritos in the Philippines" — detailed book written by an American at the turn of the previous century holistically describing the Negrito culture.
- Andaman.org: The Negrito of Thailand
- Historycooperative.org: Africans and Asians: Historiography and the Long View of Global Interaction
- The Southeast Asian Negrito