I am publishing this with permission and after several requests from close friends. Full article will be published soon and this is only a snapshot of LIVELIHOOD of the Sungai and Murut communities living at the centre of Sabah, the Malaysia Borneo.

Customary Practice of some Murut and Sungai Communities

Customary Practice of some Murut and Sungai Communities

Photo A: A medicine man and former village head, Gundohing Lokman of Kg. Purutawoi, Tongod performed a blessing warrior dance in front of VIPs at the flagging-off ceremony of a scientific expedition.

Photo B: We track Gundohing Lokman down to his village and found several interesting legends, stories and cultural practices. We came to know that it is normal practice for the Sungai community to prepare their own coffin while they are still alive. In this photo, Gundohing Lokman proudly showing his own coffin made of BELIAN (EUSIDEROXYLON ZWAGERI), an iron wood harvested from their BACKYARD.

Photo C: We went to Kg. Inarad, about 4 hours drive from Tongod and found similar practices of coffin making among the Muruts. In this photo Gaman is sitting on his own coffin made by himself several years back. He often take a nap during daylight to escape from heat and after long tiering day at the KEBUN. We asked him where he goes for SHOPPING and supplies, he said KENINGAU TOWN, about three day walk but may take four days walk back home with heavy load of supplies. Logging tracks are available but hardly maintained after logging activities ceased.

Photo D: We went further to Kg. Langga and found similar practices. We asked the village head (Villagers called him THE LION OF LANGGA) to bring us to their graveyard and we found this. Each clan have their own space and they start deep, stack their coffins in a pyramid style. We were informed that underneath these coffins are about 10 or more layers and only covered with earth after each compartment filled. Most coffins above ground are less than 100 years old. According to an expert who was with us, the Muruts and the Sungai have lived in these areas more than 1000 years as evident through several archaeological records.