Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Taboo in a Rungus or Murut Longhouse
Compiled By
Allan Dumbong

Some sub-ethnic groups among indigenous of Sabah, like the Rungus in the northen part of Sabah and the Muruts in the Interior stay in (longhouses) and maintain their traditional spiritual/animistic beliefs. When visiting a longhouse, one has to observe a few do's and don'ts. Although it is not necessary that it is similar from one tribe to another, there are still some common thread.

1. It is believed that omen or bad luck would result if a visitor enters a new longhouse while it is being constructed.

2. Walking under a longhouse is considered taboo. Never do so lest you be thought of as uncouth or ill-intentioned.

3. One should also never enter a longhouse without an invitation. The visitor should make his presence known by calling out from the bottom of the steps and after he is invited in, to leave his sandals or shoes outside before entering.

4. Once inside the longhouse, he/she should immediately make his way to the elder’s room to announce his presence and state his business. Never enter the sleeping quarters of a family without prior consent.

5. Walking inside the longhouse also has its restrictions and rules. Visitors must tread lightly, ensuring that they never walk over a person or not waking up those sleeping. One has also to be mindful of whatever things (like kitchen utensils, cloths, handicrafts, tools) that may be hanging along the wall.

6. When leaving, visitors are required to partake in whatever food or drinks served. Sometimes, a local wine (usually made out of fermented rice). One can excused himself/herself from taking the food or dinks orally by touching the food with tip of his/her finger and put it on the lips and say “taapun”., which literally means to avoid anything bad will happen on the way home for not partaking on the foods.

7. While on the way out, the visitors are advised to stop for a chat with the people who may be curious and interested to greet or get to know the visitors. It is basically a sign of respect to the people of the longhouse.

8. Normally, visitors are not allowed to get into the longhouse if there is anyone in the longhouse who gave birth, or passed away. However, visitors like VIPs, doctors, government officers who have business to be there could be allowed with the permission of the longhouse head.

No comments: