Sabah is a true melting pot of Malaysia. Apart from Chinese and Malay, there are as many as 73 different tribes scatter across this beautiful state, also popularly known as Land Below the wind. With different tribes come different sets of belief, culture, lifestyle and especially true in Sabah their dances. These dances are performed with special costumes, musical instruments and weapons. Today these ceremonial dances are mostly performed at opening of function, special occasion, wedding and cultural show. In the old days these dances are more spiritual, some are performed before the battle, and some are victorious dances, as well as dance performed to please their gods. and some of them are even used for telling future events. Below are a few clips taken from Mari Mari Cultural Village, Inanam, which is about 12km away from Kota Kinabalu.
The Ukui Dance
The Ukui dance belongs to the tribe called Lundayeh or Lun-Bawang. They are mostly found in the far southwestern corner where the state of Sabah meets Sarawak and where Borneo Kalimantan touches the area of Ulu Padas. The word Ukui actually means relief. In those forgot times many tribes in Sabah (North Borneo) were well known for their head hunting practice. Many of these tribes believe that to possess another human head is to gain power from that person. As the warriors from the Lundayeh tribe went out for their head hunting expedition, after a few days of intensive battles, to be able to come home is a big relief indeed. The whole village would come for the ceremony as wives and children would join in. The Bobohizan would perform the necessary rituals before these warriors could start with the dances.Therefore the Ukui dance is to celebrate the victory over their enemies as well as a releasing of tension moments after a battle. This brings great relief to the souls.
The Angalang Dance
The Angalang Dance is performed by the Murut, the third largest ethnic group in Sabah. They are concentrated in the interior district of Tenom and the surrounding areas. Murut tribe is also popularly known as the “headhunters”. The Angalang dance mimics the movement of this special bird called the Great Argus Pheasant. The warriors don with the head gear made from the beautiful feathers of this bird. The dance portrays the great spirit of the bird. This dance is performed before the battles, to energise the warriors before a battle. Note: the Great Argus Pheasant is an endangered species today.
The Magunatip Dance
The Magunatip Dance belongs to the Murut tribe. The word “atip” in Murut language means clapping. A few pairs of long bamboos are used in this dance. Dancers have to maneuver through the clapping of the bamboos which in turn are controlled by the beat of the music. The faster the tempo the faster the pairs of bamboos will be clapped. This dance is one of the most popular among the dance groups in Sabah. The sheer style of the dance which gets one’s adrenaline pumping and the fast and agile movement of the dancers never cease to impress the crowds. The Murut folks used this dance to prepare for battles. The warriors had to succeed in the test of speed and agility by dancing through the clapping of the bamboo sticks. If any of the warriors got caught in the bamboo, this meant they were not fit for battles. The women also played a part in this ceremony. While dancing with the clapping of the bamboo sticks, if she got caught, then this was a sign of bad luck and the husband should not go to the battle.
At Mari Mari Cultural Village, not only will you see these dances, one gets a chance to learn a great deal of ancient by gone knowledge. Here the traditional way of life of the five biggest ethnic groups of Sabah is a show-case. The place is a journey back in time where one gets to experience the way of life of these Sabah tribal people. Mari Mari Cultural Village is set at a very pleasant green forest surrounding, which is just beside a running stream. The whole tour generally takes three hours, including a meal.
Mari Mari Cultural Village has three daily guided tours, at 10:00 am, 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm. This tour packages can be bought at various tour agents in the city. Each package includes return coach transfer, an English speaking guide, lunch or high-tea or dinner.
Adult : RM 150
Child (5 to 11 year old): RM 130
Adult : RM 130
Child (5 to 11 year old): RM 100
Traverse Tours Sdn Bhd
Lot 227-229, 2nd Floor
Wisma Sabah, Jalan Tuan Fuad Stephen
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
Tel: 6088 260 501 / 6088 260 502
Fax: 6088 261 503