Tag Archives: Kadazandusun

Tangkong, timeless accessory of Kadazan Dusun costumes

tangkong of Kadazan Dusun people

This thing can be more expensive than some LV bags and diamond rings. It is Tangkong, the hip belt worn by Kadazandusun females in their traditional costumes (Kadazan and Dusun are the largest indigenous group in Sabah). Usually Tangkong is in a set of 3. Each belt consists of about 84 to 98 brass rings and one shell disk strung together by rattan.

Unduk Ngadau wearing Tangkong
Normally the price of a jewelry such as gold and gem is measured by its weight and clarity. However, the value of Tangkong increases as it ages. Tangkong can cost thousands if it’s an antique passed down for many generations and looks really oxidized, as if the less shiny it is, the higher its worth. It’s always kept as heirloom because of its sentimental value, so it’s hard to find an old Tangkong even if you have money. I saw one which was for sale for RM8,000 (≈US$2,400) last week!

Tangkong and Himpogot
Pic: Tangkong is also worn together with a set of maximum three Himpogot, the “silver coin” belt, as a display of personal wealth. Himpogot belt is about RM150 each.

tangkong of Kadazan girls
Eating Kangkong (water spinach) is for the poor. Wearing Tangkong is a sign of wealth.

Kadazan Penampang ladies in traditional costume
Pic: the typical way how Tangkong is worn in traditional Kadazan Penampang costume. The brass rings are not polished to let the rust shows its age. Tangkong is probably an accessory unique to Kadazandusun culture because I never see it in other Borneo tribes.

Tangkong worn in different Sabah ethnic costumes
Pic: Tangkong is also an important part of traditional costumes of Dusun from Ranau, Tambunan, Pitas, Kota Marudu, etc. Unduk Ngadau (Miss Harvest Festival) always wears the best collection for beauty pageant.

Tangkong the hip belt
Tangkong is quite heavy, normal girls will feel tired if they have 3 to 5 Kg extra weight on their hip for long hours, so you may not see them wearing Tangkong in casual occasions. During grand celebrations and wedding, Tangkong is almost a must for a classic beauty look.

Dusun girls wearing Tangkong
I don’t know why Tangkong can make Kadazandusun girls look more elegant, probably it gives a subtle hint on feminine curve, or it makes them move slower (and gracefully). 🙂

Tangkong for sale
Now let’s play a guessing game. Just now I mentioned I saw a Tangkong with selling price of RM8,000. Can you spot which one it is (see photo above)? Don’t scroll down for answer right away ok.

new tangkong
Did you guess the silver one? No, it’s the cheapest, only RM650 (still a lot of cash though), may be made of iron.

Tangkong made of alloy
The golden one? Nope. It’s RM850, factory made with alloy material.

antique tangkong
Here you go. This old Tangkong is worth RM8,000 (for a set of three). Quite surprising right because of its dull appearance? As I said, aged Tangkong is more expensive. It belongs to Stanis from Inobong, whom I met in Kaamatan celebration (Harvest Festival) in KDCA. Please e-mail me for his mobile phone number if you are interested in buying Tangkong from him.

close up of tangkong
Pic: If you look closely at this antique Tangkong, no two brass rings look the same, because they were all individually made by hand. Unlike “manufactured” Tangkong today, all brass rings look the same, and it is only half the weight of a traditional Tangkong.

red rattan string of tangkong
FYI, if the rattan of Tangkong is red color, the wearer is a single, black if she is married.

You also can buy Tangkong at Tamu (weekly open-air native market) in Sabah, or you can rent it from Sabah Cultural Board (Lembaga Kebudayaan Sabah). The rental fee is about RM105 per belt (a set of 3 is RM315 in total then). Nowadays, new Tangkong is no longer made in traditional way. If you own any old Tangkong from your great grandmother, please take good care of it, as it is irreplaceable and a priceless gift.

Please feel free to share your Tangkong photo in comment section below. ^_^

Photos taken in Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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Sabah Fest 2015: AGOP, The Heritage of Sabah’s Caves

Sabah Fest 2015

Travel back in time and delve into the stories and legends surrounding Sabah’s caves through AGOP (means Caves) – this year’s Sabah Fest presentation. The musical performance AGOP will be held from the 1st to 3rd of May at the Auditorium of Kompleks JKKN Sabah at 8:00pm.

The following photos were taken during the final rehearsal.

Sabah Fest 2015 group performance
This three-day event will also highlight Sabah’s rich cultural heritage through a handicraft and traditional food showcase from 4pm to 10pm at the venue’s grounds.

cultural dance
The focus of this year’s Sabah Fest is a celebration of another important icon of ancient Sabah which thrives today as a living tradition and that is none other than Sabah’s mysterious caves. Widely known as AGOP by many communities on the east coast, ‘AGOP’ translates to the word ‘cave’ in the Orang Sungai, Dusun Begak and Dusun Subpan dialect.

legend of golden deer
Pic: the legend of golden deer of Madai Cave

Chinese dance in Sabah Fest 2015
Pic: arrival of Chinese fleet to Sabah. Great performance by KK High School

The celebration of Agop this year takes us on an expedition mostly to the east coast of Sabah to sample the charms of the communities – Ida’an, Orang Sungai, Dusun Begak and Dusun Subpan- who identify with the ancient cave culture and related on-going traditions and practices.

Dusun Melangkap from Kota Belud
Pic: Dusun Melangkap from Kota Belud

The musical theatre also highlights the role of Admiral Cheng Ho of the Ming Dynasty who came across the highly valued birds’ nests and presented them as a gift to the Emperor.

love story
Other rarely seen groups such as the Tidong of Tawau, Dusun Sandayoh of Paitan and Dusun Melangkap of Kota Belud have been invited to perform and display their culture and musical traditions at this year’s Sabah Fest.

love story in Sabah Fest 2015
Pic: romance triangle. Who will win her heart?

This year’s production is made possible with the involvement of some 350 people, including 140 performers from 7 ethnic groups who hail from 5 districts around Sabah.

dance in Sabah Fest 2015
From Lahad Datu are the Dusun Subpan from Kampung Segama, Dusun Begak from Tungku and Ida’an from Kampung Sepagaya.

Idahan couple
Pic: Ida’an from Lahad Datu

Also represented are the Orang Sungai from Sandakan, Tidung from Tawau, Dusun Sandayoh from Paitan and Dusun Melangkap from Kota Belud; each showcasing their cultural identity through song and dance.

Chinese dance in Sabah Fest by KK High School
Sabah Fest is made grander with a 100-strong welcoming troupe playing the tagunggak and Murut gong as guests arrive. Also performing are 80 dancers from around Kota Kinabalu private and non-governmental organizations, schools and universities, namely Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), KK High School, SK Stella Maris Tanjung Aru and SM Maktab Sabah.

Orang Sungai
Pic: Sabah Fest 2015 uncovers the local rituals, legend and belief about caves

Don’t miss this annual premier event, showcasing Sabah’s vibrant cultural heritage, history and tradition in the form of thrilling theatrical performances, dance and music. Find out more at www.sabahfest.com.

dance by Orang Sungai
Tickets for the stage performance are available at RM50 per show. Show starts at 8:00pm. Tickets are available for sale at the ticket counter of auditorium. For more information on the event, please contact Francesca Lydia, Event Executive, Sri Pelancongan Sabah at +60 88-232121, email info@sabahtourism.com.

Photos taken in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

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