Location : Kudat Division, Sabah, Malaysia.
Kadazan, Dusun and Murut are usually the popular names when we talked about the ethnic tribes of Sabah. It was only recently this year that I first came across the tribe Rungus accidentally in a video. Further research brought me to a website that showed photos of Rungus ladies adorned with copper rings which were strikingly similar to the Bidayuhs. No other tribes in Borneo that we know of wear copper rings similar to theirs. Whatever the connection between these two tribes only anthropologists can tell us. But unlike the Bidayuhs the Rungus ladies are experts in beadwork. On hind sight I unknowingly bought a piece of their beautiful necklace more than 20 years ago in a souvenir shop while in Kota Kinabalu. This necklace had had me wondering for 2 decades who the heck could have produced it. As to my knowledge the Kadazans and Dusuns were not into beads while the Muruts’ motifs were mostly rounded or ‘S’ unlike the Rungus’ which were geometric. The Rungus villages which I was to visit soon solved the mystery.
Anyway, after enjoying our longed after Tuaran noodles we set off in the direction of Kota Belud.
Was mesmerized by the scenic beauty of padi fields and mountains here. With long straight roads and the awesome scenery, the drive through this town was the best yet in Sabah.
Further down the road we stopped by a row of shops selling local snacks like dried banana, tapioca and very expensive peanuts.
We continued our journey and finally arrived at our first Rungus village called Gombizau which happened to be quite touristic with its bee farm and hence honey of course. Paid RM3/head for the entrance and we were shown how the hives were kept.
I was more interested in the big gong that I noticed on the way into the village. So I hurried Tom to check that out. It was here that we could start interacting with the locals and learned more about the Rungus.
The lady at the window was quite enthusiastic to do business with me! She started bringing out a gong, bangles, dress and the copper rings to try to sell us.
Here was a copper ring lady who was very willing to part with her rings for some money. Curious, I asked why would she want to sell it and she said she could always make another one. Thanks but no thanks. We did buy some of her bangles though to support local industry. One older male villager entertained us on how to fold a Rungus headgear from a square scarf.
We had a few shots of the 4footer gong hanging nearby and was feeling quite proud about it when a villager came along and told us about the 20footer at another village. WHAT!? It’s got to be the biggest gong in the world. Must see it with our own eyes…..
To see more photos, please click our FACEBOOK PAGE