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Report on the project "The Ethnographic and Cultural Mapping of Sabah, Malaysia. Part 1: Tambunan District".

This paper presents the main findings from the Fundamental Research Grant project The Ethnographic and Cultural Mapping of Sabah, Malaysia. Part 1: Tambunan District that has been carried out from 2007 to 2010 by the Kadazandusun Chair, UMS, together with researchers from UKM, the GIS Laboratory of the School of Social Sciences at UMS, and members of the Kadazan Dusun community of Tambunan in the interior of Sabah. (1) Interviews were conducted with village headmen and PengerusiJKKK from around 80 major villages in the District, as well as Judges of the Native Court and other community leaders. Data were collected on village profiles, history, infrastructure, socioeconomic activities, human development, intangible cultural heritage, material culture, and social systems. This is believed to be the first detailed ethnographic mapping project conducted over a whole District in Malaysia.


In 1969, George Appell, President of the Borneo Research Council, expressed the need for an Ethnographic Map of the peoples of Sabah (Appell 1969). During the era of the USNO government, anthropologists and other researchers from outside of Sabah were denied visas, so this was not achieved.

Later in 1977, the Malaysia Branch of the Summer Institute of Linguistics, or SIL (now known as SIL International), signed an MoU with the State Government of Sabah (by then, during the Berjaya Party era) to undertake in-depth linguistic research on the multitude of languages, especially indigenous ones, and to produce literacy materials, publish folktales, dictionaries, trilingual phrase books and other materials in these languages, as well as to publish scholarly academic work in linguistics on Sabah. In addition to the multitude of materials produced by the organization over the years on most of Sabah's 50 or so ethnolinguistic groups, many of which were published by the Sabah Museum as well as cultural associations, SIL also undertook surveys of Sabah languages and published maps of individual language locations in a survey report, as well as larger maps showing the overall distribution of languages throughout the state (King and King 1984, reprinted 1997; SIL 1984, 1988). SIL is currently updating its survey of coastal languages, and documenting their distribution in GIS format.

In 1990, the National Museum of Ethnology in Osaka published the huge Statistical Analyses of Cultures in Southeast Asia and Oceania, which contains many regional maps and charts of cultural information for major culture areas in southeast Asia and Oceania (Obayashi et al. 1990). Since the maps cover such wide regional areas, the cultural information contained therein is somewhat limited. Nevertheless, this publication is a landmark in mapping regional cultural data.

The Department of Statistics, Malaysia, has reproduced the 1991 Census in GIS format for all of Sabah. Information about the distribution of ethnic groups (according to the census classification which is often very generalized) is mapped by census blocks throughout the state.

Michael Leigh has published a similar project in Sarawak based on historical, that is, pre-1976 and pre-GIS data. The Population of Sarawak: baseline mapping of rural ethnic distribution prior to the New Economic Policy shows maps of each district together with lists of village names, headmen, village populations and ethnic groups (Leigh 2000).

In spite of the range of research and materials exemplified in the above, it was felt that there still exists a need for detailed ethnographic mapping of cultural data for each district and ethnic group in Sabah. The project The Ethnographic and Cultural Mapping of Sabah, Malaysia. Part 1: Tambunan District is the first step. Funded by a Fundamental Research Grant from the Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia, through the Centre of Research and Innovation at Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), the project has involved the collection of a huge amount of raw data, and the establishment of a digital database. Currently, maps of the main data are being prepared)

The project team includes this writer, holder of the Kadazandusun Chair at UMS, as head, with co-researchers Associate Professor Hasan Mat Nor (now of the Institute of Ethnic Studies, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia), Mr. Oliver Valentine Eboy (GIS Laboratory, UMS), Mr. Laurentius Kitingan (Field Co-ordinator and Kadazandusun Language Assistant), and Madam Patricia Audrey Fung (Data Management Expert).


The Tambunan District was chosen for the first project of this type because its population is relatively homogeneous (over 30,000 of its then resident population of 33,000 are indigenous Kadazan Dusun), its location as an inland upland district lying at 1,500 meters between the Crocker and Trusmadi Ranges is somewhat isolated, and much of its traditional culture is still practiced, although many changes have occurred. Moreover, the Field Coordinator comes from Tambunan and is fluent in the traditional Kadazan Dusun language of the District. This has greatly facilitated the fieldwork involved in the project (Map 1). (3)

Objectives of the Project

Very simply, the objectives of the project are:

1. To collect socio-cultural information from all accessible villages in the Tambunan District.

2. To map this data.

3. To establish a digital database of this information.

This database will be stored in three places:

(i) District Office, Tambunan, because the project belongs to the people of Tambunan;

(ii) The Kadazandusun Chair, UMS, that initiated and headed the project;

(iii) The Research Unit of the Sabah Museum, because the Museum is the custodian of Sabah's cultural heritage.

It is envisaged that the database can be updated periodically by those organizations holding it, as the need arises.

Process of Data Collection

An interview schedule in the Sabah dialect of Bahasa Malaysia was designed and pre-tested. The questions were divided into 8 major sections covering: (i) village profile (demographic features, including dialect/subdialect), (ii) village history, (iii) village infrastructure, (iv) economic livelihood (covering traditional rice cultivation, introduced crops and other activities), (v) economic development (including new nongovernmental and government projects, as well as individual innovations), (vi) human resource development (including the numbers of people who have attained primary, secondary and tertiary education, as well as any leaders and traditional experts from the village), (vii) traditional culture (covering material culture, intangible cultural heritage and ritual practices), (viii) social systems (exchange practices, bridewealth, post-nuptial residence, and so on).

Two preliminary meetings chaired by the Assistant District Officer were held at the Tambunan District Office premises. During the first meeting that was held at the new meeting hall, the team leader introduced the project in a PowerPoint presentation to a gathering of Ketua Kampung and Pengerusi JKKK from most of the nearby accessible villages in Yambunan. (4)

The second was a planning meeting with the Ketua Daerah (District Head and head of the Native Court), and all the Pemaju Mukim (zone development officers), Wakil Ketua Anak Negeri (representatives of the Native Court) and relevant District Office staff.

As requested, the interview schedules were handed out for distribution to the Ketua Kampung and Pengerusi JKKK in each Mukim or district administrative zone. Table 1 lists all the officially recognized villages in each Mukim. This was to enable all the Ketua Kampung and Pengerusi JKKK to become familiar with the questions that we would ask during subsequent interviews in each Mukim. As it turned out, however, these village leaders used the interview schedules like questionnaires, and began filling in details and information that they had collected.

With the assistance of the participating officers from this second meeting, extensive interview sessions, mostly in the Kadazan Dusun language, based on the interview schedules / questionnaires were held in each Mukim (or sub-Mukim, if the villages were widely dispersed) with the Ketua Kampung and Pengerusi JKKK from each village. The interviews were essential to the project. Not only did they verify information written on the forms, but any anomalies were clarified. More detailed information, especially with regard to ethnohistory, was obtained through these interviews.

Researchers also traveled to most of the accessible villages to photograph important cultural and topographical features. Locations of the more remote villages were plotted using a GPS Mapper.

To date, socio-cultural information has been collected from 80 out of around 88 official villages in the Tambunan District. (5) A digital database of this information has been compiled and is stored with the Kadazandusun Chair, UMS. The data is being checked and cleaned. Tables and maps of this data are being prepared.

Main Findings

The following are some of the main findings that have emerged from the project.

1. Ethnohistorical Origins

From the ethnohistorical data, many of the older villages on the Tambunan plain as well as some in the surrounding mountain ranges have been established for hundreds of years. The interview schedule listed "more than 200 years" as a maximum limit, but during the interviews, many respondents confirmed that their villages were older than this. In one case, they could list the names of the main village headmen from the beginning (in the olden days, a village head usually served for life). They also used historical markers such as wars, epidemics and other events to estimate approximately when their villages were first established. They could also tell which villages were older than theirs. In many cases, they could actually trace the routes taken by their forebears in coming to their present locations. Some more recent villages were established as late as the 1970s and have documentary records of their establishment.

Details of ancient and historical migrations of Dusunic people into the area have been confirmed. It appears that there were three main origin points from where people came into the area: (i) Nunuk Ragang, to the northeast, in today's Ranau District, (ii) Libodon, a village in the Crocker Range in the Tuaran District to the east, and (iii) Kionop, a village in the Crocker Range to the west, bordering today's Papar District.

Nunuk Ragang near Tampios on the Liwagu River is the origin site of waves of migration of Dusunic peoples throughout central and northern Sabah over many generations. It is the origin point for the Rungus, Tobilung, Kimaragang, some Labuk Dusun communities, the Kuijau Dusun of Bingkor on the Keningau plain and others, as well as most of the Kadazan Dusun. Clearly there have been many series of movements of people from Nunuk Ragang into the Tambunan area over generations.

Libodon, located in an area often referred to as Ulu Tuaran, is the origin of a Kadazan Dusun dialect group known as Tagaas. Kionop is situated on an old salt trail over the mountains from today's Tambunan District in an area often referred to as Ulu Papar.

These origins are also reflected in variations of dialect, adat practices, and gong ensemble nomenclature. It was also confirmed that the traditional labeling of groups in the area is still remembered, although not often used, and can identify dialectal and cultural variations. These include: Liwan (most recent arrivals over the past 150 to 200 years from Nunuk Ragang), Tagaas (from Libodon over 200 years ago), Tambunan (the earliest inhabitants on the plain, from Nunuk Ragang possibly up to 500 years or more ago), Tuhauwon (also from early migrations from Nunuk Ragang and Kionop), and Kuruyou (also from Nunuk Ragang). As shown previously, these labels usually referred to the materials that the people used in constructing their longhouses, although Liwan was also the name of a river tributary (Pugh-Kitingan 2003:1-2, 2004:128-129, 136-137,143-144). Nowadays, these labels are rarely used due to intermarriage between widely dispersed villages in the District and the movements of people.

In terms of Mukim, or today's administrative zones of villages in the District from north to south, the general pattern shown in Table 2 emerges.

While these labels are rarely used nowadays, there are dialectal variations as well as differences in adat or customary law, gong ensemble structure, nomenclature and music, and other cultural aspects. Changes are also occurring that will affect these variations.

2. Social Praetiees

Traditional native law and adat practices continue and are enforced, but sogit ('cooling compensation,' or ritual sacrifices) and their accompanying fines are becoming standardized in each Mukim through the Native Court. Similarly, the Native Court is starting to regulate bridewealth (nopung) in terms of cash payments, although traditional items are still given in some cases, especially if water buffaloes are available.

The moginakan, the major traditional thanksgiving and exchange feast held over several days by a conjugal family and its wider bilateral kindred, continues to be held in most villages, especially those in the central part of the district. It is important for Christian families, (6) as well those who follow traditional beliefs. Among some Muslim families in villages in Mukim Kirokot and Mukim Patau, however, it is declining in favor of a new one-day hari keluarga (Malay: 'family day'). This is merely a get-together among relatives, where each brings a dish of food to share. For most people, hari keluarga lacks the deep social and spiritual significance of the moginakan (Pugh-Kitingan & Laurentius Kitingan 2008).

3. Socioeconomic Practices

In terms of traditional socioeconomic practices, the strong resistance to the adoption of new rice varieties that was observed over the past three decades continues in nearly all villages (Laurentius Kitingan 1979, 1981, 1982, 1983; Laurentius Kitingan & Drynan 1982). This is because traditional varieties are more hardy (grains can last up to 30 years), they are pest-resistant, and give bountiful harvests with just one planting per year. A few families on the plain are starting to plant new varieties as a "filler" between traditional annual cycles, but they rely on their traditional wet rice varieties as the staple.

The use of traditional implements in agriculture still occurs, but new mechanization is often employed. Tractors are often rented and shared among villagers on the plain to prepare their padi fields for planting, while many farmers planting hill padi now use grass cutters in clearing swiddens. This is largely due to the decline in the water buffalo population, which has been caused by widespread liver fluke infections. This decline has also affected the composition of traditional bridewealth, so that money is often substituted for the animals.

In addition to rice cultivation, some farmers are also planting cash crops, such as ginger, rubber and oil palm. Ginger has become very popular, and today, the Tambunan District produces one third of Malaysia's ginger output (pers. comm. Mr. Thomas Angor, District Officer, Tambunan).

4. Human Resource Development

The people of Tambunan are very proactive in developing their own ways of economic enhancement. In a couple of the most remote villages on the border of the Ranau District, the villagers developed their own hydroelectric generator using a Kancil car engine. Thus, all houses have electrical power without access to the facilities of the Sabah Electricity Board.

Nowadays, nearly all children are able to attend primary school and most go on to secondary school. Many also continue to tertiary education.

Over the years, the Tambunan District has produced many nationally and internationally recognized experts in academia, the arts, sciences, professions, and political leadership. As an example, Tan Sri Datuk Seri Panglima Joseph Pairin Kitingan, the Huguan Siou and cultural leader of Sabah's indigenous ethnic groups, hails from Tambunan. He was the first Kadazan Dusun lawyer. After entering politics in 1976 representing Tambunan, he has not lost an election. He served as Chief Minister of Sabah for nine years, and is currently Deputy Chief Minister.

5. Material Culture

Traditional weaving is now virtually extinct, due to the availability of cheap commerial cloth. (7) The practice of linangkit or needle-weaving along seams of costumes has also disappeared. Nowadays, girls and young women are usually busy with their education and careers, and have no time for traditional crafts like linangkit. Old women complain of poor eyesight that prevents them from continuing the craft.

Basketry by both men and women, and mat-making continue to be widely practiced. The making of the traditional hat or sirung is declining in some villages.

6. Intangible Cultural Heritage

Many of the traditional vocal genres are disappearing due to inroads made by outside media. Some sinding or secular songs, however, have been developed as contemporary pop songs. Other genres, such as kandagoi, sudawil and the ritual verses or rinait chanted by bobolian (priestesses) have almost disappeared.

There is a clear correlation between the dialectal origin of a village, and the name of its gong ensemble, the number of gongs in the ensemble, the musical nomenclature of gongs, the presence or absence of a drum that plays with the gongs in the ensemble, and subtle variations in gong music styles. This also correlates with the presence or absence of dunsai funeral gong music (Pugh-Kitingan 2011).

The older wet-rice planting villages on the plain (especially in Mukim Toboh, Mukim Lintuhun and Mukim Nambayan) have more gongs (usually one handheld gong and seven hanging gongs), and a drum called karatung or gandang.

They also play dunsai, special mourning music in which only hanging gongs are hit in a repeated regular beat (the hand-held gong and drum are not used). Dunsai, however, is not played in villages of Mukim Kirokot, Mukim Patau and most villages in Mukim Monsorulung, where the performance of any kind of music is prohibited during mourning.

The absence of the drum in most villages in Mukim Kirokot and older villages in Mukim Patau may be because Liwan people did not traditionally use a drum, or perhaps because a drum may have been used in rituals by a bobolian (especially during moginakan, as on the plain) and with the decline of traditional ritual practices, the drum is no longer used.


Thus, the high numbers of gongs in an ensemble, the presence of a drum, and the practice of dunsai which are found in most villages practicing wet rice cultivation on the Tambunan plain, decrease and decline the further one moves away from the plain to more distant villages that cultivate hill rice in the mountains.

Dancing is accompanied by traditional syncopated celebratory gong ensemble music. Although there are no major stylistic differences, apart from pace, variations in names generally correlate with dialectal origin. Traditional dancing in Tambunan consists of two basic motifs. In the first, the dancer steps from side to side, shifting the weight from one foot to the other, while gently swinging the arms together in time to the music. This is called sumayau. In the second, the dancer steps up on the toes with the arms raised. In Tambunan, this is called mongigol. For men, the arms are stretched out at shoulder level with hands moving gently up and down from the wrists. For women, the arms are gently curved with fingers pointing upwards.

In most villages on the plain, the term magarang is used to refer to the complete genre of dancing to gong music. In Mukim Kirokot and Mukim Patau to the north and villages in Mukim Monsorulung to the south, however, the term sumayau is generally used for dance. Villagers in Mukim Sunsuron normally refer to dance as mongigol.

While gong ensemble performance remains strong, traditional, non-ritual, solo musical instrument performances are rapidly declining as older musicians pass away. This is true even for even the sompoton mouthorgan--the international cultural icon of Sabah that has been played as a form of secular entertainment for generations.


Importance of Ethnographic Mapping for Heritage Preservation

This project has been enthusiastically endorsed and taken up by the village headmen and JKKK chairmen of nearly all the accessible villages in Tambunan, as well as District Office staff, representatives of the Native Court, community development officers and others. In "owning" the project, these leaders in the local community have greatly facilitated the fieldwork. Many have stated "This project is important, because it will be a record of our culture for our children and future generations after them."

Apart from its importance as a cultural record, the project has wider implications for ensuring cultural continuity even beyond Tambunan. The sompoton mouthorgan of Kampung Tikolod illustrates this.

Kampung Tikolod in Mukim Monsorulung has been renowned as a center for the manufacture of the sompoton from ancient times. From here it developed and was spread by trade throughout the area and beyond into other communities. Today, the sompoton is found throughout the entire Kadazan Dusun area, as well as with neighboring peoples including the Lotud Dusun, Kimaragang, Labuk Dusun, Kuijau Dusun, Timugon Murut, Bookan Murut, Tangara Murut and others. Many claim that the instrument actually originated in Kampung Tikolod. It is certainly clear that Tikolod was a major center for the making and distribution of the sompoton. This is indicated by the more detailed labeling of parts of the instrument by Tikolod performers that is not usually found among players from other areas. In recent years, the sompoton has been utilized by the tourism industry as a cultural icon of Sabah (Pugh-Kitingan 2003:13-22, 39, 2004:67-82, 97-98, 2009).

Today in Kampung Tikolod, only ten performers remain. Most of these are in their 70s and 80s, while one claims to be over 90, and two are in their 40s. Traditionally in Tikolod, each performer made his own sompoton. (8) Today, however, only the two younger performers can make the instrument. The older men no longer have clear eyesight--even when wearing spectacles, they are unable to cut and tune the delicate sodi reeds of polod palm for the sounding pipes (Plates 1 & 2).

It is hoped that the sompoton of Kampung Tikolod can be declared a national treasure or even a world cultural heritage to ensure the continuation of this distinctive item of Kadazan Dusun culture.

In addition to this, it is important to conserve Kampung Tikolod as an origin site of the sompoton and to preserve its link on the salt trail (an 8 hour walk) over the Crocker Range to Kionop, and beyond to other villages in Ulu Papar including Kampung Buayan, Kampung Tiku, Kampung Timpayasa, Kampung Babagon Laut, and others further towards the coast. Plans have been made by the Department of Sabah Parks to develop the salt trail as a tourist attraction.

Unfortunately, an outside private developer is planning to destroy much of the culturally and environmentally rich Ulu Papar area by constructing a dam called the Kaiduan Dam that will flood the villages of Buayan, Tiku, Timpayasa and Babagon Laut over the Crocker Range towards the coastal plains of Papar. This is not a government project and actually contravenes State and Federal government policies on native rights and environmental tourism development. But the company is planning to develop a hydroelectric scheme along with the dam and sell this to the government, which will greatly increase the cost of water and electricity in the state. More serious, if this badly planned project goes ahead, it will immediately displace around 3,000 villagers who live in the area (not including thousands more who work elsewhere and return home on weekends or intermittently) and will destroy priceless sources of pharmacopeia. It will also affect the status of the Crocker Range as a World Heritage Site, and destroy the historic salt trails from Tambunan which are being utilized for adventure and homestay tourism. Kampung Kionop, one of the historic origin points of Dusunic migration back into Tambunan, will be affected and the significant connection of the Ulu Papar area with Kampung Tikolod will be cut off. This, in turn, may well affect the continuation of the sompoton as a living cultural icon of Sabah, as a major historical trade route to Tikolod becomes strangled and the village becomes more isolated.


It appears that the project The Ethnographic and Cultural Mapping of Sabah, Malaysia. Part 1: Tambunan District is the first large-scale detailed ethnographic and cultural mapping project at the district level in Sabah, and possibly in Malaysia. It has been fully and enthusiastically endorsed by the local community with around 200 indigenous Kadazan Dusun informants and others directly involved.

This project is significant because it identifies the unique cultural features of most of the villages in the District. It is also a means of documenting the existing ethnographic and developmental characteristics of Tambunan before these become lost with the passing of time. When completed, this project in Tambunan may become the basis of similar projects in other districts of Sabah.

In terms of its cultural significance, it is hoped that the findings from the project will be used for cultural heritage preservation, both in having the sompoton and Kampung Tikolod declared a world cultural heritage, and in ensuring that indigenous Kadazan Dusun rights extend beyond the Tambunan District to the places of origin of these people.


Appell, G.N. 1969 The peoples of Sabah: Planning and preparation of an ethnographic map. Sabah Society Journal 5:73-4.

Department of Statistics, Malaysia 1991 1991 Census of Sabah,

Institut Linguistik SIL--Cawangan Malaysia

1984 Linguistic Survey Map of Sabah Languages. Kota Kinabalu: Institut Linguistik SIL-Cawangan Malaysia.

1988 Languages of Sabah. Kota Kinabalu: Institut Linguistik SIL-Cawangan Malaysia.

King, Julie and John Wayne King, eds. 1984 Languages of Sabah: A Survey Report. Pacific Linguistics Series C--No. 78. (Reprinted 1997). Canberra: Department of Linguistics, Research School of Pacific Studies, The Australian National University.

Laurentius L.L. Kitingan

1979 Investigation of Risk and Other Factors Inhibiting the Adoption of New Rice Varieties by the Low-Income Farmers in Tambunan Sabah Malaysia. Bachelor of Agricultural Science thesis, Department of Agriculture, the University of Queensland.

1981 Agricultural Changes in Tambunan--Role of Farmer Decision-making. Paper presented at Environmental Symposium 8, Graduate School of Environmental Science, Monash University.

1982 Agricultural Development in Tambunan, Sabah, Malaysia: Rejection of Modern Rice Varieties by Farmers. Master of Environmental Science thesis, Graduate School of Environmental Science, Monash University.

1983 Factors affecting the adoption of new rice varieties. Paper presented at The Rice Industry in Sabah--Need for a New Policy and Strategy. Agricultural Research Centre, Tuaran, Sabah, Malaysia.

Laurentius L.L. Kitingan and R.G. Drynan 1982 Factors Inhibiting the Adoption of New Rice Varieties by the Low-Income Farmers in Tambunan Sabah Malaysia. Bulletin of the Society of Agricultural Scientists Sabah, 5(2):39-46.

Leigh, Michael 2000 The Population of Sarawak: baseline mapping of rural ethnic distribution prior to the New Economic Policy. Kuching: Universiti Malaysia Sarawak Press.

Obayashi, Taryo; Shigerhari Sugita & Tomoya Akimichi, eds. 1990 Statistical Analyses of Cultures in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Bulletin of the National Museum of Ethnology Special Issue No. 11. Osaka: National Museum of Ethnology.

Pugh-Kitingan, Jacqueline

2003 Alat-Alat Muzik dan Muzik Instrumental Kadazan Dusun Tambunan. Kota Kinabalu: Pejabat Kebudayaan dan Kesenian Negeri Sabah.

2004 Selected Papers on Music in Sabah. Kota Kinabalu: Kadazandusun Chair, Universiti Malaysia Sabah.

2009 A Preliminary Comparison of the Kadazandusun Sompoton from Tambunan and the Tangara Murut Kulundi of Inarad, Kinabatangan. Paper presented at Persidangan Seni 2009, 24-25 July, Universiti Malaysia Sabah.

2011 Kadazandusun Gong Ensembles in the Ethnographic Mapping of Tambunan, Sabah, Malaysia. In: Mohd Anis Md Nor, Patricia Matusky, Tan Sooi Beng, Jacqueline Pugh-Kitiingan and Felicidad Prudente, eds. Hybridity in the Performing Arts of Southeast Asia: Silat Martial Arts of Southeast Asia, Cultural Studies in Music and Dance, Archiving and Documentation, New Research. Proceedings of the 1st Symposium of the 1CTM Study Group on Performing Arts of Southeast Asia, pp. 205-209. Kuala Lumpur: Nusantara Performing Arts Research Centre (NnsPARC) & Department of Southeast Asian Studies, University of Malaya.

Pugh-Kitingan, Jacqueline and Laurentius L.L. Kitingan 2008 Rice, Ritual and Music: Continuity and Change in the Moginakan of the Kadazandusun of Tambunan, Sabah, Malaysia. Paper presented at the Borneo Research Council 9th Biennial International Conference, 29-31 July, Universiti Malaysia Sabah.

Jacqueline Pugh-Kitingan

Kadazandusun Chair

Universiti Malaysia Sabah

(1) The term Dusun (orchard) was used over the centuries by the Brunei and later the British to refer to the largest indigenous community in northern Borneo who practiced large-scale wet rice cultivation. Roman Catholic missionaries noticed the autonym Kadazan, from Kakadazan meaning one who lives in the direction of the township (from kadai or 'shop') being used in Papar among the coastal Dusun in the late nineteenth century. Over the twentieth century, the Dusun of Ranau and Kota Belud preferred to use the name Dusun, while those on the coast retained Kadazan, and those from Tambunan in the interior used either term. Donald Stephens (later Tun Haji Mohammad Fuad Stephens), Sabah's first Chief Minister, promoted Kadazan as a term for all the indigenous peoples of Sabah, not only Kadazan Dusun, but other Dusunic, Murutic and Paitanic peoples, who were not Kadazan Dusun. But people still preferred their own local names. Researchers and others have used the terms Kadazan Dusun, Kadazan-Dusun or Kadazan/Dusun to distinguish this particular isoglot from the others. After much political debate within the community', the combined term Kadazandusun was officially endorsed in 1992. But this has continued to add to the confusion of labels, as some politicians and others refer to all indigenous Sabahans, whatever their ethnic origins, as "Kadazandusun." To avoid confusion, the label Kadazan Dusun is used in this article. The Kadazandusun Chair was established with a grant from the Sabah State Government as a chair for research on indigenous cultures in Sabah. It was named "Kadazaandusun" in recognition of the largest indigenous group in the state, but the Chair's terms of reference and research projects have included other indigenous societies as well as the Kadazan Dusun.

(2) By employing both the terms "Ethnographic" and "Cultural," it is hoped that the project will be listed in research databases both for the Social Sciences (hence "Ethnographic") and Humanities ("Cultural").

(3) Thomas Rhys Williams is said to have done anthropological research among the Dusun of Tambunan in the early 1960s and has published two books and several journal articles. Unfortunately, his writings are riddled with numerous incomprehensible linguistic blunders, major factual and conceptual errors, and many culturally offensive statements that lead one to doubt the validity of his research (see forthcoming paper).

(4) In each village, Ketua Kampung or Village Heads are chosen by the villagers and recognized by the District and governmental authorities. They are responsible for matters pertaining to native law and customary practices at the village level. Their terms nowadays normally run for five years. Pengerusi Jawatankuasa Kemajuan dan Keselamatan Kampung or Chairmen of Village Development and Security Committees are appointed by the Minister of Rural Development after recommendation by the District Officer. They are responsible for infrastructural and development projects in their respective villages. In most cases, Ketua Kampung and Pengerusi JKKK work together on issues of joint concern, such as land use.

(5) A village must have a minimum population of 150 people residing permanently (excluding those who live away in the towns for work) to be officially recognized. Tambunan probably has around 100 villages, but some of those in more remote mountainous areas have smaller populations. Sometimes two or three small villages are administered as one under a ketua kampung.

(6) The majority of Kadazan Dusun in Tambunan are Christians, and Roman Catholicism is the main denomination.

(7) A group of women from Kg. Timbou in Mukim Toboh, however, are trying to revive the art of weaving sandai sashes and women's sunduk headcloths.

(8) Nowadays, only men play the sompoton in Kampung Tikolod. Elsewhere in Tambunan, women also traditionally played the instrument.
Table 1: Official List of Names of Villages in each
Mukim of the Tambunan District.
(Source: Tambunan District Office)

 Villages in alphabetical order
 Name of Mukim (/ indicates two or more villages
 (roughly from North to South) jointly administered)

1. Mukim Kirokot Kg. Kiporing
 Kg. Kirokot
 Kg. Kolombuong
 Kg. Kumawaran / Tuhan
 Kg. Libang Laut
 Kg. Libang Ulu
 Kg. Nukatakan
 Kg. Pahu
 Kg. Pialungan
 Kg. Rumuyuh Garas
 Kg. Sintuong-Tuong
 Kg. Tampasak Liwan
 Kg. Tiang Tonop
 Kg. Tinompok Liwan
 Kg. Tiong
 Kg. Tontolob Liwan
 Kg. Widu

2. Mukim Patau Kg. Babagon Baru
 Kg. Bambangan
 Kg. Kuala Namadan
 Kg. Makatip
 Kg. Narayat
 Kg. Patau
 Kg. Pagalan Kusob
 Kg. Rugading Pagalan
 Kg. Sinungkalan an

3. Mukim Sunsuron Kg. Kapayan Baru
 Kg. Kapayan Lama
 Kg. Kipaku
 Kg. Pantai / Kinabaan / Gangar
 Kg. Sunsuron Baru
 Kg. Sunsuron Ulu
 Kg. Tombotuon
 Kg. Tontolob

4. Mukim Toboh Kg. Botung
 Kg. Gagaraon
 Kg. Kituntul
 Kg. Lumondou
 Kg. Mangi Pangi
 Kg. Maras Karas
 Kg. Minodung
 Kg. Noudu
 Kg. Piasau
 Kg. Sukong / Lotud
 Kg. Tangaban
 Kg. Tibabar
 Kg. Timbou
 Kg. Tinompok
 Kg. Toboh

5. Mukim Lintuhun JKDB Pekan Tambunan
 (Tambunan Township)
 Kg. Daar
 Kg. Dakota (Dalungan)
 Kg. Kaingaran
 Kg. Karanaan
 Kg. Kuyungon
 Kg. Lintuhun
 Kg. Mogong
 Kg. Nandal
 Kg. Nupakan / Pononoburan
 Kg. Papar
 Kg. Pomotodon
 Kg. Sandapak (formerly part
 of Pomotodon)
 Kg. Tobilung Baru
 Kg. Tondulu

6 Mukim Nambayan Kg. Kiawayan
 Kg. Lalapakon
 Kg. Lubong
 Kg. Mangkatai
 Kg. Moloson
 Kg. Nambayan
 Kg. Pupuluton
 Kg. Rugading Tanaki
 Kg. Solibog
 Kg. Sungoi
 Kg. Tanaki

7. Mukim Monsorulung Kg. Bagian
 Kg. Bundu Apin-Apin
 Kg. Dongiluang
 Kg. Kitou
 Kg. Kuala Monsok
 Kg. Lotong
 Kg. Monsorulung
 Kg. Monsok Tengah
 Kg. Monsok Ulu
 Kg. Rantai
 Kg. Rompon
 Kg. Tiga Apin-Apin
 Kg. Tikolod

Table 2: Dialectal Origins of Villages in Zones of the
Tambunan District (from North to South)

Name of Mukim General Dialectal Origins

Mukim Kirokot Liwan

Mukim Patau Liwan and more recently people from other
 parts of the Tambunan District

Mukim Sunsuron Mainly Bundu-Liwan and some Tagaas with

Mukim Toboh Tambunan, Tagaas

Mukim Lintuhun Tambunan, Tuhauwon and others

Mukim Nambayan Tuhauwon and others

Mukim Monsorulung Tuhauwon, Kuruvou and Liwan
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Author:Pugh-Kitingan, Jacqueline
Publication:Borneo Research Bulletin
Date:Jan 1, 2011
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