Thursday, June 18, 2015

Murut House (Blow Pipe & Henna Tattoo) - The HeadHunters' Lair @ Mari Mari Cultural Village [Kota Kinabalu]

Even before we stepped into the fifth and last house of the cultural village, our interest was already aroused by the very fact that the aggressive Murut tribe was also known infamously as the headhunters' tribe.

In the olden days, tribesmen would guard the village premise; ready to slay the head off any passersby who dared to venture in. 

Under the guidance of our formidable local guide, the threat was quickly averted and the headsman (who was half a head shorter) did seem rather accommodating to our request to enter.

By the way, all strangers to the village were required to enter in one single file so as to appear less threatening to the tribesmen who showed the heads to their in-laws-to-be as a sign that they can protect their daughters! 

A curse would be placed when you finally stepped in! Kidding lah, i have no idea why the stooped witch was there but her presence added a certain sense of creepiness. Thankfully it was daytime.

The same as Rungus Tribe, the Murut's longhouse also practiced one longhouse for one village and each room would house one family. Prior to entering, let's train to be hunters.

Made of ironwood, the black pole can be used for two purposes; as a spear for fighting or as a blowpipe for hunting / murdering. Given that some of us were not exactly teenagers, guess the latter would be physically less challenging.

So let's go for a training session to use the blowpipe! 

All of us had a go, including me, and it was so darn easy to hit the bull's eye with a high success rate of 80%! Could you imagine if this is allowed in Singapore?! 

See, even the young Korean boy faced no problem with its usage! Some of you might be aware that the dart was dipped in poison and the amount depends on whether you want the victim dead.

For the purpose of this training, the darts were replaced with satay sticks and no poison was added. Of course; can't deny the rationale for this move. 

Time to enter the sheltered 'village' of the Muruts; third largest ethnic group in Sabah!

Had to climb up the high-stepped stairs again! For short guys like me, it might still be a breeze at my age but give it another twenty years and you could likely hear the curses and vulgarities under my breath. 

By then, i could take it easy and access the longer yet easier path.

The first thing that stuck me was how spacious it was and the second thing that attracted my attention was the center area with what appeared to be an indentation of the floor.

Although i found it to be a great area for leisure chit-chatting, likely coupled with thick ciggie smoke and a few cups of tea / rice wine, its intent was far more lively. 

Operated like a trampoline, the suspended platform (known as lansaran) served as an arena during harvest festivals for a few persons to follow the tempo and then jumping to see who can grab the prize right at the ceiling! 

You may refer to the youtube video above for a clearer picture of what i meant (scroll to 42 seconds mark to jump straight into the lansaran segment).

One of the staff took my camera to shoot this candid photo of his fellow colleagues! 

This man quietly sat at one corner of the longhouse and those who don't read English might have thought he was there as a mannequin or something.

He was in charge of tattooing which is part and parcel of tribal life! Since many of us didn't have the time to spend on having a permanent tattoo, the much faster henna method was adopted and like the rest of the activities so far, you don't have to pay a single cent! 

Leaving for the performance hall! 


Within Mari Mari Cultural Village. To read more, kindly refer to the main posting on Mari Mari Cultural Village

For the summarised itinerary of my 7 days, 6 nights Kota Kinabalu (Sabah) trip, please click here.

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