Ethnic & Beliefs

Traditional Food

Places of Worship

Historical Places

Ethnics and Beliefs of Tambunan

Snake Fruit


Kadazan-Dusun (also spelt Kadazandusun) refers to the ethnic groups Kadazan and Dusun of Sabah. The Kadazan-Dusun are Sabah's largest indigenous Bumiputra tribe. They are often referred to as "Mamasok," which means "originals" or "indigenous people." The majority of Kadazan-Dusun tribes claimed they were descended from the Nunuk Ragang people.

This is Sabah's main ethnic group, comprising mainly of paddy rice and hill rice cultivators. Their language is part of the Dusunic family and shares an animistic belief structure as well as different traditions and traditions. Their ancient views about the existence of life - that bricks, plants, and rivers are all living beings. They have souls and ghosts that must be appeased on a regular basis by ceremonies. Some of the traditions are less common in modern times, even for certain holidays.

Kadazan-Dusun Beliefs

Pesta Kaamatan or Harvest Festival is a unique celebration of Kadazan-Dusun society. It's a celebration to honour the Rice Spirit - Bambaazon or Bambarayon. The homecoming of Babaazon is an integral part of the Harvest Festival. The highlight of the festival is the selection of the pageant queen or "Unduk Ngadau" which can be literally translated as "Zenith of the Sun" It conceptually derives from the sacrifice of Huminodun which was planted in the earth by the Creator.

Various parts of her body were planted from which plants grew to create the rice. The sacrament of Magavau may vary according to the district practices but the ceremony always ends with food offerings and merry-making for the village folks. The language used by Bobohizan is archaic whose meanings have been buried in time and known only to the few remaining Bobohzan these days. It is believed that rice in whatever form embodies Bambaaz that must be protected from harm and is called 'Bambaazon' or 'Spirit of Rice'


Murut is a Sabah indigenous group consisting of roughly 29 sub-ethnic groups. They are the third-largest indigenous group in Sabah. Murut means "people of the hills". Murut people, like the Ibans, were well-known headhunters in the past but have since abandoned their old ways in favour of farming and hunting. Murut people traditionally live in a traditional longhouse near the river with their big families. This is because the river serves as a highway for them. They have now abandoned their former way of living in favour of private family homes.

The Murut, once feared as courageous headhunters and longhouse dwellers, have abandoned many of their age-old practices, especially headhunting. They are both very skilled at blowpipe shooting.

They also make a living by farming rice, tapioca, fishing, and blowpipe hunting. Hill rice cultivation is now their primary source of revenue. The Murut people are also said to have a thorough knowledge of botanical healing practises, with each group having their own healers who can treat illnesses like diarrhoea, diabetes, and high blood pressure. The Murut people celebrate the Kalimaran Festival, an annual festival that honours the Murut culture's richness and uniqueness by concentrating on their handicraft activities.


Murut Beliefs

Collecting the heads of enemies had a specific purpose in Murut culture in the past. A man can only marry after he has shown the family of the desired girl with at least one head that he has hunted. Heads are still very significant in spiritual beliefs.

The meaning of the Murut feasting ritual is distinct. There will be no stop of the revelry until dawn, which will last up to seven days. This is particularly true for marriages and funerals. Because of modernization, heads are no longer needed for weddings; instead, jars, cloth, beads, gold, and ivory bracelets have taken their place.

The Murut hold their deceased in jars and put them in colourful and elaborately decorated grave-huts, along with the deceased's belongings. The body will be positioned inside the jar in the foetal position, and a gong will be placed over the jar's mouth to seal it. However, with the availability of wooden coffins, this funeral practise is becoming increasingly uncommon.



The Chinese are the main non-indigenous population in Sabah. Many of them settled in Northern Borneo before the British, as shown by records from both Brunei and the Sulu Sultanate. Because of their presence in business-related operations, the Chinese continue to be very important to the state economy. Sabah's three main ethnic groups are Hakka, Cantonese, and Hokkien.