Sabah is a unique land, a melting pot of many indigenous and immigrant group. The population of slightly over 1.7 million comprises over 30 different dialects, each group having its own colourful culture,tradition, festivel and customs.
The indigenous group include the Kadazan/ Dusun, Bajau, Murut, Rungus, Lotud, Brunei, Orang sungei, Kadayan, Bisaya and many others subgroups. The main group and their "adat" (cultural observances) are highlighted here.
THE KADAZAN/ DUSUN
The largest enthic group in Sabah, the Kadazan/ Dusun make up about one third of the population, and are found mainly on the West Coast. The Kadazan/ Dusun are properous agriculture people and are the main rice producers of Sabah, though now many have gone into different professions. Their system of beliefs revolves around their rice-planting and harvesting with female priestesses called "bobohizan" presiding over the rituals.
The Bajau are skilled fishermen though there are linguistic and culture differences between those living on the West Coast are predomonaatly farmers and the Bajau, well known for their skilled horsemanship, have been dubbed "cowboys of the east". They are expert "horsemen" rearing ponies, buffaloes and cattle as well as on festival occasions respledent in their colourful costumes riding brightly decorated ponies.
The Murut live mostly in the South West region of Sabah and in remote parts of the interior residency between the town of Keningau and the borders of Sarawak and Indonesia. Many still live in longhouse and were once feared for their head hunting. The Muruts were also great hunters, using spears, blowpipes and poisoned darts.