Tag Archives: Kadazandusun

Himpogot, the money belt

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A guy is lucky if he is born with a silver spoon in his mouth. It’s a blessing if a Kadazandusun lady inherits a himpogot from her mother. Himpogot is a “money belt” made of 18 or more British silver coins chained together, and it is the most shiny accessory of traditional costume of Kadazandusun, the largest indigenous group of Sabah.

Tangkong and Himpogot

The older the Tangkong and Himpogot, the more valuable they are

In old days, wearing precious metal such as silver is a way of showing off a person’s wealth. Now himpogot is a symbol of elegance and classy beauty. The “ori” (original) himpogot means antique silver coin belt passed down (to daughters normally) as heirloom from ancestors and it’s very rare now.

Kadazan Dusun and Murut people wearing himpogot

Himpogot is a common accessory among Kadazan, Dusun and Murut people of Sabah

Therefore, due to its rarity, it’s a great pride for a Kadazandusun girl to wear a full set of 3 sparkling ori himpogot belts, which weigh more than 1.5 Kilograms, about as heavy as a big bottle of mineral water. The term Himpogot is derived from the Kadazan word pogoton, which means to tighten the tie.

One to five Himpogot belts are worn

One to five Himpogot belts are worn

Himpogot is widely used in traditional costumes of native tribes in Borneo and have different names, e.g. Botungkat in Dusun, Pipirot Linggit in Murut, and Sementing Ringgit in Iban. The way Himpogot being worn is also different among ethnic groups.

Standard way of wearing himpogot by Kadazan Penampang

Standard way of wearing himpogot by Kadazan Penampang

The “standard” way of wearing himpogot is usually referring to Kadazan Penampang style. A maximum of three himpogot belts are used, one on the waist and another two, before and after the tangkong brass belts. This looks beautiful with black velvet dress with gold trimmings (siling).

Bajau lady (left) wearing Himpogot

Bajau lady (left) wearing Himpogot

In contrast, Dusun Lotud uses one himpogot together with Lilimbo (Rattan Hip Band), whereas Dusun Tempasuk from Kota Belud will wear up to 3 himpogot on the hip. Kadazan Papar ladies use one on the waist and 2 or 3 on the hip.

The coin belt (Sementing ringgit and dangling coins (Sementing Buchai) of Iban girl

The coin belts (Sementing ringgit) and dangling coins (Sementing Buchai) of Iban girl

Though Iban is considered as a Sarawak tribe, Sabah has some Iban people living around Sipitang and Tawau too. In addition to silver coin waist belts (Sementing ringgit), Iban female also wears the dangling silver coin chains on skirts, hundreds of coins are used, pretty impressive. But Iban has its whole way of using and wearing silver coins, and I won’t cover more.

Dusun Tindal men wearing Himpogot

The men of Dusun Tindal also wear Himpogot

The prices of himpogot can vary considerably. The “ori” (original) himpogot can cost more than 1,000 Ringgit. The fake or imitation ones usually cost from RM90 to RM200, depending on the quality.

Tangkong (left), the brass belt and Himpogot (right), the silver belt

Tangkong (left), the brass belt and Himpogot (right), the silver belt

The original Tangkong brass belts also cost a fortune. A complete set of 3 tangkong and 3 himpogot belts can worth over RM15,000 (≈USD$3,750). But these are traditional jewelleries that are seldom available for sale.

Himpogot worn as shoulder bands by a Murut Paluan woman

Himpogot worn as shoulder bands by a Murut Paluan woman

Miniature Himpogot

Miniature Himpogot for children, which is half the size of standard himpogot.

British Trade Dollar

Most of the time I only see old British coins used in himpogot. The most common coin being used in himpogot is the British Trade Dollar issued between 1895 and 1937 . This silver coin consists of 90% silver and was used to be a ‘Trade Coinage’ (coins manufactured by one country for use in another country) widely circulated in China, Hong Kong, Malaya, Borneo and Brunei as an international currency in early 20th century.

Antique himpogot exhibited in Monsopiad Cultural Village

Antique himpogot exhibited in Monsopiad Cultural Village

Now let’s play a game to see if you can identify an original himpogot. There are two himpogot below, tell me which one costs RM3,500 and RM150. Guess. Don’t scroll down too fast for answers ok.

MYR150 and MYR3,500 Himpogot

Guess which Himpogot is MYR150 and MYR3,500

On the coin is the Britannia standing on a shore, holding a trident in one hand and a shield in the other, with a merchant ship under full sail in the background. This coin was known as Ringgit Tongkat (Walking Stick Dollar) and Botungkat (having a stick) in Malaya and some Dusun respectively because of this figure. Britannia is the female personification of the British Isles and she symbolizes unity, liberty and strength. The Britannia side must face outward when himpogot is worn.

This himpogot is valued at MYR3,500

This himpogot is valued at MYR3,500 (≈USD$880)

Answer: The second (bottom) himpogot is valued at RM3,500, while the one on top is only RM150. Have you gotten the right answer? The average price of each coin in ori himpogot is RM184! I checked eBay and found these coins are worth more than USD$50 each (collector’s quality). FYI, each coin has different value. Anyway, their prices exceeds silver value due to their numismatic (coin collector) appeal.

Himpogot with faked coins

Himpogot using faked coins is a lot cheaper

Look at the photo of RM150 himpogot above. The words and graphics have shallower emboss and the surface is more whitish in color. According to the seller, the shiny surface is a plated silver. Another thing you can see is the year on these coins are all the same.

The coins of Himpogot in different years

The coins of ori Himpogot in different years (1897, 1898, 1900, 1901, 1903, 1911).

Now look at the original himpogot above. The British trade dollar coins are naturally worn and have different years. The weight of this .900 fine silver coin is about 26.95 g. Stanis, the seller, says the real silver coins will make crisp ding-ding sound when hit each other, whereas the fake coins will make “ta-ta” dull sound. It’s a fake too if it is magnetic. You can read this article to spot counterfeit British Trade Dollar.

These three himpogot cost MYR2,500 to MYR3,500.

These three “ori” himpogot cost MYR2,500 to MYR3,500.

Above are three original himpogot that costs (from top to bottom) RM2,500, RM3,000 and RM3,500. It costs RM9,000 if you want these three belts as a complete himpogot set! On the reverse of the coin is an arabesque design with the Chinese symbol for longevity in the center, and the denomination in two languages: Chinese (壹圓 = One Dollar) and Jawi ( ساتو رڠڬية‎ = One Ringgit). You can learn more about the history of this coin.

Mexican coin in Himpogot

Note the Mexican coin (used as buckle)

Sometimes other silver coins are used in himpogot, like the Mexican coin above and the following copper-nickel 25 Pence in 1977 that celebrated the Silver Jubilee (25th Anniversary) of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, Straits Dollar, and Hong Kong Silver Dollar. Himpogot with coins that aren’t drilled with holes has higher value.

Himpogot made of copper-nickel 25 Pence coins in 1977 that celebrates the Silver Jubilee (25th Anniversary) of Queen Elizabeth’s reign

Himpogot made of copper-nickel 25 Pence coins in 1977 that celebrates the Silver Jubilee (25th Anniversary) of Queen Elizabeth’s reign (Photo from the book “Cultures, Customs and Traditions of Sabah Malaysia – An Introduction”)

Himpogot with Chinese words

Himpogot with Chinese words that reads “中國古代四大美女” (means 4 prettiest ladies in ancient China), with name and portrait of these women on the coins. (actually this isn’t coin)

Himpogot made from France coins

Himpogot made from France coins?

Just a thought. Does anyone make new himpogot with new silver coins? For example, they can buy new British silver coins, which costs about RM75 to RM90 each, for making of a new himpogot which costs about RM1,500. Though it’s not an antique, it’ll become ori after passing down for a few generations, a good investment.

Handicraft stall of Stanis in Tamu (open market) of Donggongon town

Handicraft stall of Stanis in Tamu (open market) of Donggongon town

If you want to buy original himpogot, you may look for the stall of Mr. Stanis in Tamu (open air weekly market) in Donggongon town, which is open in Thursday and Friday mornings. His stall is the largest handicraft stall in the middle of tamu.

stall of Stanis

His stall only opens in the morning of every Thursday and Friday.

However, these himpogots are stored in his little treasure chest. You can ask him to show you. You better hurry. Last time I mentioned about his RM8,000 Tangkong and it was sold. Original himpogot is a rare and highly sought-after item, so I’m sure it’ll be gone soon. No, he didn’t pay me any commission or ad fee.

Special thanks to Anne from Chanteek Borneo Gallery for providing a lot of information about Himpogot.

Photos taken in Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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Result: Unduk Ngadau 2016 (Miss Harvest Festival, Sabah)

From left to right: 1st Runner-up: Claryssa Henry (Kudat), The Queen: Sherry Ann Laujang (Penampang), 2nd-Runner-up: Fenny Ester Joslin (Banggi)

A new queen was born on 31 May 2016, after 44 contestants from different Sabah and Malaysia districts competed for the State-Level Unduk Ngadau 2016* title (Miss Harvest Festival of Sabah), which marks the end of month-long Kaamatan celebration (Harvest Festival). The photos below are clickable to zoom in.

Group photo of Top 7 Winners of Unduk Ngadau 2016. From left to right: Patriciaelsa Jimy (Klang Valley), Vinny Alvionitta Sasising (Matunggong), Claryssa Henry (Kudat), Sherry Ann Laujang (Penampang), Fenny Ester Joslin (Banggi), Christine Joan Charles (Papar), Charmine Bartholomew (Kapayan)

Top 7 Winners of Unduk Ngadau 2016. From left to right: Patriciaelsa Jimy (Klang Valley), Vinny Alvionitta Sasising (Matunggong), Claryssa Henry (Kudat), Sherry Ann Laujang (Penampang), Fenny Ester Joslin (Banggi), Christine Joan Charles (Papar), Charmine Bartholomew (Kapayan)

Result: Unduk Ngadau 2016

The following is the result:
Unduk Ngadau 2016: Sherry Ann Laujang (Penampang)
1st Runner-Up: Claryssa Henry (Kudat)
2nd Runner-Up: Fenny Ester Joslin (Banggi)
3rd Runner Up: Vinny Alvionitta Sasising (Matunggong)
4th Runner Up: Christine Joan Charles (Papar)
5th Runner Up: Patriciaelsa Jimy (Klang Valley)
6th Runner Up: Charmine Bartholomew (Kapayan)

From left to right: 1st Runner-up: Claryssa Henry (Kudat), The Queen: Sherry Ann Laujang (Penampang), 2nd-Runner-up: Fenny Ester Joslin (Banggi)

From left to right: 1st Runner-up: Claryssa Henry (Kudat), The Queen: Sherry Ann Laujang (Penampang), 2nd-Runner-up: Fenny Ester Joslin (Banggi)

Unduk Ngadau Beauty Pageant has been around since 1940s, but it only becomes an official annual competition in 1960. It is the highlight of the Kaamatan, and in the video below, you can see the crowd went crazy when the top 7 finalists were “unveiled”.

Unduk Ngadau 2016: Sherry Ann Laujang (Penampang)

Sherry is simply gorgeous. Her skin is so “radiant” that it almost makes my photos overexposed, no kidding. She has the look of a queen. However, she was extremely nervous during the contest. Her elder sister, Samantha Sharon C.E. Launjang, is the 4th runner-up of State-Level Unduk Ngadau 2012.

Unduk Ngadau 2016: Sherry Ann Laujang (Penampang)

Unduk Ngadau 2016: Sherry Ann Laujang (Penampang)

Most guys would agree with me that many beautiful Kadazan sumandak (girls) are concentrated in Penampang area. Out of 56 State-Level Unduk Ngadau contests in the past, Penampang won the title 25 times (now 26)!

Sherry Ann Laujang in traditional Kadazan costume

Sherry Ann Laujang in traditional Kadazan costume

Sherry is 21-year-old, and she is from Kampung Ramayah. She is a Kadazandusun with 25% British blood (her great-grandfather was a Briton), and she just earned her accounting diploma from UiTM Sabah.

Sherry Ann Laujang in evening gown

Sherry Ann Laujang in evening gown

1st Runner-Up: Claryssa Henry (Kudat)

Claryssa was the strongest rival of Sherry. Her name was heard everywhere in the beginning, and she has a lot of supporters.

1st Runner-Up: Claryssa Henry (Kudat)

1st Runner-Up: Claryssa Henry (Kudat)

Claryssa Henry in traditional Rungus costume

Claryssa Henry was wearing a traditional Rungus costume called sukolop. Many people didn’t think that it’s a good idea because sukolop is a thinner clothing Rungus women wear at home and farm, and too simple for formal events. She proceeded anyway to create more awareness about this dress.

After the competition, there is a hot debate which says Kudat should have won the first place, because most people think Claryssa was doing better than Sherry in Q&A session.

Claryssa Henry in evening gown

Claryssa Henry in evening gown

I don’t understand Kadazandusun language, so I don’t know who is right. Anyway, the judges had mentioned that 40% of the score is based on beauty, 30% on traditional costume, 20% on presentation and 10% on attitude.

Therefore, Q&A is not the sole factor for winning, though it’s important. No matter what, hopefully everyone will stop quarrelling about this during festive time. Both of them are fabulous girls.

2nd Runner-Up: Fenny Ester Joslin (Banggi)

2nd Runner-Up: Fenny Ester Joslin (Banggi)

2nd Runner-Up: Fenny Ester Joslin (Banggi)

Fenny Ester Joslin in traditional Rungus costume

Fenny Ester Joslin in a traditional Rungus costume called tapi

Fenny Ester Joslin in evening gown

Fenny Ester Joslin in evening gown

3rd Runner Up: Vinny Alvionitta Sasising (Matunggong)

Vinny is my favorite candidate actually. She is picture perfect. She will definitely win the Miss Photogenic title if there is one. She is awarded the subsidiary title of Miss Natural Beauty.

3rd Runner Up: Vinny Alvionitta Sasising (Matunggong)

3rd Runner Up: Vinny Alvionitta Sasising (Matunggong)

Vinny Alvionitta Sasising in traditional Rungus costume

Vinny Alvionitta Sasising in traditional Rungus costume

4th Runner Up: Christine Joan Charles (Papar)

Whenever Christine showed up, the people went gaga, and their scream almost broke my eardrums. There must be something special about her. Can anyone tell me please?

4th Runner Up: Christine Joan Charles (Papar)

4th Runner Up: Christine Joan Charles (Papar)

She is also the winner of Miss Conservation WWF Subsidiary Title. She will be attached to Sabah WWF to raise awareness on the conservation and wildlife issues from 1 Jun 2016 to 31 May 2017.

Christine Joan Charles in traditional Kadazan Papar costume

Christine Joan Charles in traditional Kadazan Papar costume

5th Runner Up: Patriciaelsa Jimy (Klang Valley)

Besides contestants from Sabah, we also have participants from Klang Valley, Labuan and Johor.

5th Runner Up: Patriciaelsa Jimy (Klang Valley). She is wearing traditional Dusun Tindal costume

5th Runner Up: Patriciaelsa Jimy (Klang Valley). She is wearing traditional Dusun Tindal costume

Patriciaelsa Jimy in evening gown

Patriciaelsa Jimy in evening gown

6th Runner Up: Charmine Bartholomew (Kapayan)

6th Runner Up: Charmine Bartholomew (Kapayan)

6th Runner Up: Charmine Bartholomew (Kapayan)

The Crowning

As there are over 40 Unduk Ngadau, so the competition took a long time and finished at 7:40pm.

Ryannie Neils Yong, the Reigning Queen (Unduk Ngadau 2015)

Ryannie Neils Yong, the Reigning Queen (Unduk Ngadau 2015), came to say Hi Hi and Bye Bye. You know the drill.

In first round, 15 contestants were selected, then shortlisted to top 7 in second round, and at last the Q&A round to decide the winners.

The moment of the final announcement

The moment of the final announcement

The Rungus ladies from northern district rocked the stage this year, when contestants from Kudat, Banggi and Matunggong won 1st, 2nd and 3rd runner-up (plus Miss Natural Beauty) respectively. Besides, Unduk Ngadau of Pitas also won the Most Creative Evening Gown (with Rungus motif as theme).

Yay! A new queen is born!

Yay! A new queen is born!

Kudat district is used to be famous for three things, i.e. longhouse, coconut and peanut. Now I guess it is famous for pretty girls too lol.

Crowning of Unduk Ngadau 2016

Crowning of Unduk Ngadau 2016

From left to right: 1st Runner-up: Claryssa Henry (Kudat), The Queen: Sherry Ann Laujang (Penampang), 2nd-Runner-up: Fenny Ester Joslin (Banggi)

From left to right: 1st Runner-up: Claryssa Henry (Kudat), The Queen: Sherry Ann Laujang (Penampang), 2nd-Runner-up: Fenny Ester Joslin (Banggi)

Sherry Ann Laujang (Penampang) is named the State-Level Unduk Ngadau 2016

Sherry Ann Laujang (Penampang) is named the State-Level Unduk Ngadau 2016

Subsidiary Titles

There are three Subsidiary Titles being awarded during Sodop Unduk Ngadau Charity Dinner on 29 May 2016. Below is the result:
Miss Conservation WWF: Christine Joan Charles (Papar)
Miss Friendly (Tati Tosuau): Dorizah Noh Tongod (Tongod) (Can I add her in Facebook?)
Miss Natural Beauty (Tati Topiodo): Vinny Alvionitta Sasising (Matunggong)

Unduk Ngadau Charity Dinner on 29 May 2016

Unduk Ngadau Charity Dinner on 29 May 2016

Winners of Subsidiary Titles

Winners of Subsidiary Titles

Miss Natural Beauty: Vinny Alvionitta Sasising (Matunggong)

Miss Natural Beauty (Tati Topiodo): Vinny Alvionitta Sasising (Matunggong)

Miss Conservation: Christine Joan Charles (Papar)

Miss Conservation WWF: Christine Joan Charles (Papar). Ok, please scream.

Miss Friendship: Dorizah Noh Tongod (Tongod)

Miss Friendly (Tati Tosuau): Dorizah Noh Tongod (Tongod)

Top 7 Most Creative Evening Gown

That evening every Unduk Ngadau was wearing evening gown designed with Sabah ethnic theme. Top 7 best designs were selected, and the dress (designed by Petrus Boyd Pensin) of Treacy Chee from Pitas won the Most Creative Evening Gown award.

Most Creative Evening Gown by Treacy Chee from Pitas

Most Creative Evening Gown designed by Petrus Boyd Pensin, and presented by Treacy Chee from Pitas

This colorful theme is inspired by Rungus motif. I saw patterns that symbolize flower, lizard and people.

Most Creative Evening Gown by Treacy Chee from Pitas

Most Creative Evening Gown presented by Treacy Chee from Pitas

This gala night is a good time to see the youthful side of Unduk Ngadau. You can check out my Facebook album for more photos.

One of the Top 7 Most Creative Evening Gown (Model: Hyellene Danius, Unduk Ngadau of Tuaran )

One of the Top 7 Most Creative Evening Gown (Model: Hyellene Danius, Unduk Ngadau of Tuaran )

One of the Top 7 Most Creative Evening Gown (Model: Sharon Joseph, Unduk Ngadau of Libaran)

One of the Top 7 Most Creative Evening Gown (Model: Sharon Joseph, Unduk Ngadau of Libaran)

One of the Top 7 Most Creative Evening Gown (Model: Norfainie Binti Diwalang, Unduk Ngadau of Pagalungan)

One of the Top 7 Most Creative Evening Gown (Model: Norfainie Binti Diwalang, Unduk Ngadau of Pagalungan)

One of the Top 7 Most Creative Evening Gown (Model: Muntel Binti Santangan, Unduk Ngadau of Lahad Datu)

One of the Top 7 Most Creative Evening Gown (Model: Muntel Binti Santangan, Unduk Ngadau of Lahad Datu)

One of the Top 7 Most Creative Evening Gown (Model: Laura Simon, Unduk Ngadau of Likas)

One of the Top 7 Most Creative Evening Gown (Model: Laura Simon, Unduk Ngadau of Likas)

Congratulations to all the Winners!

Bare feet beauty pageant

Bare feet beauty pageant

You may notice this beauty pageant is very different. First, everyone is on bare feet. Second, “Gong Hair” is the standard hairstyle for the contestants. If you like their hair, watch the video by Beverley Shim to make one:

In fact, Unduk Ngadau Contest is a tradition to commemorate Huminodun, a maiden who sacrificed herself to save the starving people. You can read the very interesting and informative article titled Not just a beauty pageant, written by Melissa Leong, to understand the true meaning of this event.

“Kaamatan without Unduk Ngadau is not kaamatan. It will be like a song without rhythm.” -Joanna Kitingan (Chairperson of Sabah state-level Unduk Ngadau)

*”Unduk” literally means the shoot of a plant, signifying youth and progressiveness, and “Ngadau” means sun, connoting the beauty of the heart, mind and body of an ideal Kadazan­dusun woman.

Photos taken in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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