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Archive for February, 2009

Lumberjack Country

Keningau, the timber town & district, is the oldest & largest district in the interior division of Sabah. Dusun and Murut form the largest population in the area. Timber was at one time one of the mainstays of the local economy, although the industry has recently seen a decline in terms of economic revenue. It was a bustling town back then and millionaires were made or unmade over night. It was kind of a cowboy town with night clubs lining up the streets and nightly merriments by lumberjacks were to be seen. That was the golden time then. Majority of the population are now in the agricultural fields.

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Land of Padi Fields & Countryside

The town of Papar & its surroundings are best seen in the light of its scenic countryside settings. The name Papar, after all, refers to open flat land and well suited to agro-farming. The population of Papar comprises the Kasazan, Dusun and Malay with sprinklings of Chinese mainly concentrated in the town area.

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The People of the Hill & the Headhunters of the Past

Ahhhhhh…… the trampoline & bamboo-pole dancers from the East. The Muruts, like the Rungus, live in a longhouse with a communal lifestyle. One unique lifestyle of the tribe is the wooden trampoline (known locally as the lansaran) built within the longhouse. Come the big days, such as the Harvest Festival, groups of men and women will hop on to the wooden platform and dance the night away by bobbing up and down on the platform. Try it! It’s cool and fun and you wish you can have one in your house. The other noted facet of the Murut is the Bamboo-pole dance, where men & women do the foot-tappings inside the clapping bamboo-poles. Give it a whirl! And the doctors will be ever so happy to send you a bill for foot injury treatments.

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The Valley of Bamboo and the Orchard People

Tambunan, a valley at an altitude of 750m, has an all year round temperate tropical weather. The people that live around this valley are known as the Dusun- closely related to the Kadazan tribe. The name “Dusun” is the Malay word for Orchard and hence it came to pass that the tribe that live in this part of the world is referred to as the Orchard people for their houses are usually surrounded by fruit trees. Forests of  bamboo can be seen scattered around the valley, a legacy of the British Colonial administration. As an aside, the women that live around the valley generally have fairer skins with beauty to boot.

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The Little People From the Ground Who Live In The Turtle River Bank

Dusun Tatana is yet another sub-group of the Kadazandusun tribe. As such, the name Tatana refers to the Dusuns that live in a place called Kuala Penyu (Turtle River Bank).

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Lotuds In A Land of Paradise

Lotud, a name immediately conjures up the mystical image of Buddha meditating on the lotus pond. Then reality comes down to earth. The Lotud of  Tuaran are in fact a sub-tribe of the indigenous Kadazandusun people who reside in the district of Tuaran. It is estimated there are now less than 10,000 of the Lotud people left.

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Longhouses of Borneo- Communal Living

The Rungus, a sub-group of the Kadazan Dusun, are an indigenous people residing in the northern part of Sabah (North Borneo). They are often associated with their communal longhouse dwellings, and distinguished by their unique beadwork designs. The longhouse is divided into separate quarters (compartments) housing individual families. The word “Valai” thus refers to compartments in the indigenous Rungus language. A common communal hall is often provided & shared between the families for social interactions and communal works. The longhouse can usually accommodate up to 10 or 15 families. But in the past anything between 20 or 70 families in one longhouse was a common sight.

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