Saturday, July 05, 2008

Dusuns who came from the 'Kayu Ru' tree

By Rahmat Hj Abdul Rahman

From an anthropological point of view, it's not clear from where the ethnic Dusun Lotud came from. However, based on anecdotes or folklore, the Dusun have been known to come from Nunuk Ragang or the red-coloured 'Kayu Ru' tree colour situated at Kampong Tampias in the district of Ranau.

According to recent views of researchers, Dusuns had been separated and had different ethnic names and had become sub-ethnic. While other researchers said from the view of ethnology, it may be that the ethnic Dusun were a group of Monggol from the Republic of China, or were Shan people, and Kaohin on the north of Mynmar or ethnic Paiwan (Bunan) from Taiwan or from Indai Tuaran.

The Dusun in Sabah and Brunei Darussalam are similar in customs but some of their words are different.

Most of the ethnic Dusun in Brunei can be found in Kampong Rambai, Lamunin, Long Mayan, Rambai in the Ulu Tutong. In the Belait district, they are in Kampong Bukit Sawat and Kampong Sukang.

From the time before religious disciplines set in Southeast Asia, the ethnic Lotud were pagans and even today they are atheists.

Bruneians use the word 'Dusun' to identify farmers who have a piece of land planted with fruits or tend orchards. The British (British North Chartered Company) 1881-1941 used the word since then to refer to the people.

According to researchers the ethnic Lotud were synonymous with the word 'Suang Lotud' and can be found in 35 villages in Tuaran district. The ethnic Dusun Lotud called Lotude were based on the anecdotes not written by their ancestors. The Lotud women were known to wear skirts below the knees only. The word 'otud' in Dusun Lotud dialect means 'Lutut' or knee.

A husband from ethnic Dusun Lotud can practise polygamy and can divorce.

The 'Adat' or Custom of 'Dusun Lotud' marriage processes is divided into 35 segments like Suruhan, (merisik or bilateral meeting), monunui (bertunang or engagement), popiodop ('bermalam' or stay a night atau ditidur or 'sleeping together'), Matod (kahwin or wedding) and mirapou ('adat' or custom).

Before the 1950's, the partners for Dusun Lotud children were chosen by their parents. The children had no choice except to accept what their parents required for the matching partners without any help. The main objective aimed to have a good sibling: respectful, hard-working in the paddy fields and to avoid incest in the families.

The male's family will appoint an elderly person known as 'suruhan' qualified on the 'adat resam' and will visit the female's house for the purpose of 'merisik' or negotiating.

The 'Suruhan' is aimed at delivering a message to engage the daughter from the female's family. The girl's family requests for a duration of days before the 'Risikan' or negotiation could be accepted. Many matters have to be clearly made known like the family tree, character, the capability of the male's side, and to evaluate the meaning of a dream that occurred in the female's family. If the female's side had a bad dream, 'sogit mimpi' is done for 'perdamaian' or peace. Based on 'adat', when the male's had no 'suruhan' or appointee, they can be fined on 'adat malu' by the girl's family.

Adat Monunui ('bertunang' or engagement) side the proposal of marriage or 'risikan' is accepted by the girl's side, both parties will discuss to fix the date for 'Adat Monunui' They will find the suitable date and month in the Dusun Lotud calendar like the night of the 14th in a one month cycle called 'tawang kopiah' or the 15th night called tolokud, to perform 'monunui'.

As a symbol of engagement, the man's side will give a ring to the woman only. 'Adat Monunui' can only be done in the morning before 1pm. After completion of the ceremony, the man's family members have to leave the woman's home before 4pm.

In the 'adat monunui', the head of village and the appointee are the frontline people in the ceremony. Both parties of the families will be represented by the head of village. At this time the girl proposed to be the fiancée must be in the bedroom or in an other place not to be seen by the male's family. The man's will not be allowed in the girl's living room before the 'monunui' ends.

The most important in 'adat menunui' (engagement) are 'berian/mas kawin' (tinunui), 'belanja dapur' ('wang hangus' or kitchen expenses), 'hantaran tunang' or dowry, 'sogit' atau adat keluarga (jika ada or if family custom exist), tempoh bertunang (duration of engagement).

The list of valuables equivalent to dowry items delivered to the girl are 'karo aman tunggal', 'karo lawid', 'kalro inontilung', 'karo dsapau', 'kemagi lawid', 'kemagi 3 rondog', 'badil' or cannon, 'tajau' or vase, 'canyang tinukul', 'tatarapan', two pieces of 'rantakah', two pieces of 'sigar emas', 'simbong bersiput', 'pertina', 'tompok', gong (tawag-tawag), 'tutup panasatan' ('canyang'), 'kampil', 'kulintangan', two pieces of 'simbong bersiput'.

At the traditional pre-speech, 'adat berian' or dowry custom and belanja dapur or kitchen expenses, the heads of the villages from the man's and girl's sides will start the pre-discussion. They have prepared some pieces of 'kirai' or the (mangrove palm shoot rolled, dried and turned to make cigarette), or the matches sticks as a symbol of notes equivalent to RM1,000 each. The girl's side will make some requests of the man's side. 'Berian' or 'Tinunui' or dowry is obligatory as the symbol of the value of the girl's personality and based on the tradition worth RM1,000. The period to perform a marriage ceremony is one year. The man's family will request for an adjournment of the marriage if the man's encounters a financial problem.

The 'belanja dapur' or kitchen expenses is estimated above RM5,000 and a moderate fat buffalo. 'Adat Berian Tanah' or the land grant custom dowry is obligatory for the ethnic Dusun Lotud called 'Pinolusadan Do Aluwid', with the approved land taxation of 0.25 cents. The purpose of land grant dowry is for the construction of a house when the married couple has children. Based on tradition, if the bridegroom does not have assets like land, the 'berian four binukul (valuable archaic items) will be mentioned with the value of RM1,000.00 as 'adat berian' and has fulfilled the terms.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

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