Culture Ethnics Profile | Handicrafts | Cultural Experience | Homestay

Ethnics Profile: The Rungus

The Rungus is a sub-group of the Kadazandusun group found mainly in Kudat and Bengkoka peninsula in the northern part of Sabah. Rungus is well known for maintaining their ancient traditions as well as beadwork. Generally they are sedentary farmers as well as shifting cultivators. With their staple food being rice and maize, they are also skilled in producing homespun cloth made from cotton, locally known as kapok, for their costumes.

Rungus live in their traditional longhouse in which each family lives in a separate apartment with its own sleeping and working areas and kitchen. A gallery runs through the entire longhouse and allows all the residents to mingle and socialise. The Rungus tribe weave a fine tale literally and itís believed that each time they weave a bead necklace using certain patterns, they are actually telling a story such as a man going spear-hunting for a riverine creature.

The design of Rungus costume is simple. A black cloth with little hand-stitched patterns worn from the chest to the waist becomes the blouse (banat tondu). The knee-length sarong (tapi rinugading) is made of the same material. Another length of black cloth, about 28-30 cm wide is then slipped over the head and it rests on the shoulder, draped over the arms like sleeves.

Little brass rings and antique beads looped through thin strands of stripped bark (togung) becomes a wide and colorful hipband called orot. The last string of beads (lobokom) is hung loosely from the coil. The orot is hand made by the Rungus men using a technique known only to them. Two shoulders bands (pinakol) about 6 to 8 cm wide are worn diagonally over each shoulder and cross over in front. Long antique bead necklaces (sandang) are also worn diagonally over the shoulders. These necklaces often include ivory-white discs obtained from shell of kima (tridachna gigas) as well as animal bones.

Then several necklaces of reddish-brown glass beads and the choker-like suldau with white kima as the centerpiece are then added to the costume. The large burambun and smaller giring are antique brass bells that sound with the slightest movement. The Rungus ladyís hair is combed into a bun and a multi-coloured floral head-piece (titimbok) is worn. A thin band of beads strung together (sisingal) is tied around the forehead and pieces of cloth sewn together in a row to form colourful pigtails (rampai) are then tied at the nape.

Costume of Women

Banat Tight bodice fastened with a button to a rectangular shoulder cloth (longon banat) with a slit in the middle for the head and loose ends hanging over the shoulders. The narrow upper zone of the bodice (dokot) is decorated with horizontal bands filled with floating motifs.
Tapi Tube-skirt falling below the knees. The floating weft motifs in the horizontal bands comprises of an astonishing ranges of subjects.
Sukolob Calf-length blue or black commercial cotton wrap tied over the chest. One long strip of linangkit/rinagkit along the vertical seam is intersected by a horizontal one in the middle of the sukolob. On the intersection four floral motifs in needle embroidery radiate from the center. This attire is worn on a daily basis.
(Note: Usually the motifs of tapi and sukolob indicate the social position of the wearer: sinombitan for upper class and tinongkupan for the others)
Sisingal Several strings of beads tied together worn around the head
Titimbok Hairpin of wood or rattan, cloth and beads
Sisik Brass decorative haircomb
Sadíang Brass earrings
Ganggalung Discs of brass coil of approximately 40 cm in diameter worn as a necklace. These cumbersome ornaments are worn only in isolated villages for ceremonial occasions these days.
Litai or tinggot Narrow choker-like necklace of beadwork
Sulau Necklace of gold beads and a disc of white shell, kima (giant clam) in front and back. Bells are attached on either side of the disc in front.
Tongkol String of carnelian, glass and shell beads looped crossed over the shoulders.
Pinakol Two bands of beadwork with geometric and human figures looped crossed over the shoulders.
Orot Wide hip girdle/belt of coiled brass wire and rows of beads. Worn during weddings and other ceremonies.
Giring Small round brass bells sewn at the hem of the tapi
Lungkaki Tightly coiled brass ornament covering the lower leg.
Rampai A hairpin which has two or three rows of folded pieces of colourful cloth strung together and which float down to the nape.
Satu Bracelet of coconut shell worn below the elbow
Batakan or kimo Bracelet of shell (kimo)
Saring Brass coiled wire bracelet covering most of the underarm. The saring is enclosed by the satu and batakan and angkop
Kinumair or golinsung Bracelet of shell (kimo)
Angkop Bracelet of coconut-shell-like satu around the wrist

Costume of Men  

Badu Long-sleeved handwoven shirt with geometric motifs
Sival sarabulu Baggy trousers with wide waistline and rinangkit decorated seams. Plain trousers without rinagkit are called masap or souval tanaru
Hokos Waistband of long strips or red, green and yellow cotton sewn together.
Sandai Two folded lengths of printed commercial fabric falling down from each shoulder to the calves
Inavol Narrow handwoven circular sashes with geometric motifs worn crosswise over the chest
Sigal Headdress of folded pis cloth produced by Binadan craftsman
Mogah Sarong made from mogal cloth woven by Iranun weavers. Worn during the mogigol dance.
Pinakol Two bands of beadwork with geometric and human figures looped crossed over the shoulders
Tinggot Narrow chocker-like necklace of beadwork
Pinikos Upper arm bracelet made of hardwood

  Penampang Kadazan
Papar Kadazandusun
Dusun Tindal
Bajau Murut Rungus
>> Sabah Tour Packages
>> Map of Sabah
>> Hotels in Sabah
>> Domestic Flights & Fares
>> Weather Report
>> Transportation around Sabah
>> Learn more about Sabah
  - Where to find us
  - Adventure
  - Nature
  - Leisure
  - Culture