Kadazandusun Beliefs About Paddy Spirits, Riddling & Sundait

Investigating the Relationship between
Kadazandusun Beliefs about Paddy Spirits, Riddling
in Harvest-time and Paddy-Related Sundait

Original Publication, 2012: http://journalarticle.ukm.my/5963/

Low Kok On
Sekolah Pengajian Seni, Universiti Malaysia Sabah
Jalan UMS, 88400 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Lee Yok Fee
Jabatan Pengajian Kenegaraan dan Ketamadunan
Fakulti Ekologi Manusia, Universiti Putra Malaysia
43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor

During recent field trips to collect sundait (riddles) from Kadazandusun communities in Sabah, it was noted that many of the riddle answers relate to paddy farming: for example, rice planting activities and related paraphernalia are often mentioned. This paper analyzes collected Kadazandusun paddy related” sundait based on their social context and background. In addition, it also examines traditional beliefs in paddy spirits and the origin of riddling at harvest-time. Some unique aspects of paddy-related sundait are highlighted and the relationship between the belief in paddy spirits and the ritual of harvest riddling is further explored. Keywords: Kadazandusun sundait, paddy-related riddles, paddy spirits, harvest-time riddling

Dalam beberapa kerja lapangan mengumpul sundait (teka-teki) Kadazandusun di Sabah yang telah pengkaji lakukan baru-baru ini, banyak sundait Kadazandusun yang jawapannya berkait dengan unsur padi, aktiviti penanaman padi dan alatan padi telah dikenal pasti. Fokus tulisan ini adalah menganalisis koleksi sundait Kadazandusun yang berunsurkan padi berasaskan konteks dan latar sosial orang Kadazandusun. Selain itu, hubungan antara kepercayaan terhadap semangat padi dan sebab mengapa petani Kadazandusun berteka-teki pada musim menuai turut akan dibincang. Dengan berbuat demikian, keunikan sundait Kadazandusun yang berunsurkan padi akan ditonjolkan selain hubungan antara kepercayaan terhadap semangat padi dan berteka-teki pada musim menuai akan diketahui. 

Kata kunci: Sundait Kadazandusun, sundait berunsurkan padi, semangat padi, berteka-teki pada musim menuai

The Kadazandusun1 of Sabah, Malaysia are traditionally paddy cultivators. While those living in the hills and further inland cultivate dry paddy, the inhabitants of the coastal plains and valleys grow the wet variety.2 The rice yield is of the utmost importance to these farming communities and given its prominent role in their lives, it is not surprising that the planting, growing and harvesting of the paddy are of great spiritual significance to the Kadazandusun. One central belief is that the paddy spirits, bambarayon, are present in paddy. Traditional spiritual ceremonies are largely agriculturally-related rituals involving the recitation of long rinait (chants) and performed for the protection of the paddy (Fernando 1978; Phelan 2005; Pugh-Kitingan 2009). One consequence of the Kadazandusun belief in the paddy field as a place inhabited by spirits was the evolution of the traditional harvest practice of riddling.

To date, only five academic works have been published on the Kadazandusun sundait (riddles) of Sabah, namely Evans (1951; 1954; 1955), Williams (1963) and Lokman (2004). Evans (1951) was the first researcher to conduct fieldwork on Kadazandusun riddles . In 1950, he managed to collect fifty examples from Kadamain village, in Kota Belud district. Later in the same year, he documented another seventy four riddles from Tombulion, Kahung Saraiyoh and Tambatuon villages in the same district. Besides giving a brief account and making a full inventory of the riddles collected, Evans (1951; 1954) did little in the way of analysis. Likewise, in his article entitled “Some Dusun Proverbs and Proverbial Saying”, Evans (1955) listed fifty one siriban and sundapat. Of these, the sundapat were found to be another sub-category of riddle, i.e. sayings which require a response. 

In “The Form and Function of Tambunan Dusun Riddles”, Williams (1963) stated that Dusun riddling is a fundamental part of the structure and functioning of Dusun society. Focusing on the forms and social functions of the sundait, he concluded that riddling behaviour could not be categorized as a leisure time game or activity. Furthermore, Dusuns do not view riddles as tests of chance, or luck. From another perspective, Lokman’s (2004) study investigates the performance of Kadazandusun riddles as a unique oral skill. Based on the above reviews of the literature, the close relationship between sundait and the cultural significance i.e. riddling during harvest-time was not the subject of the study by all the previous sundait researchers.

Hart (1964), meanwhile, in Riddles in Filipino Folklore stated that in a basically agriculture nation, one might expect that economically important, widely distributed, and indigenous agricultural plants and products would receive emphasis in a riddle corpus. He also assumed rice to be a common subject for riddles in a Southeast Asian country where its animistic nature is accepted by most of the people. As rice is the staple food of the Kadazandusun, the choice of paddy as a “riddle subject” (i.e. the riddle answer) by paddy planters is to be expected. This contention was verified on field trips to Kadazandusun communities conducted in 2009 – 2010, during which a large number of riddles
were collected. On transcription, many of the riddle subjects were found to contain references to “paddy” (e.g. tools, food, activity etc). Besides focusing on the Kadazandusun belief in paddy spirits and the expression of these beliefs via riddling practices conducted at harvest-time, those Kadazandusun riddles with paddy and a wide range of paddy related practices and paraphernalia as the riddle subjects will be examined in detail. In so doing, the author hopes to facilitate a better understanding of the close relationship between sundait, the importance of rice and the cultural significance of the riddling during harvest-time among the Kadazandusun of North Borneo.

According to Dundes (1980), the study of folklore in literature entails at least two distinct methodological steps, namely identification and interpretation. In this research, the author first produced a corpus of Kadazandusun riddles with answers (subject matter) related to paddy using a combination of fieldwork interviews and library research. The collection of paddy- related Kadazandusun riddles was then analyzed with reference to social context, i.e. the specific situation in which the riddling activity is practiced at harvest-time. Finally, the relationship between these riddling conventions and Kadazandusun beliefs about the paddy spirits was analyzed and discussed.

Like most of the Kadazandusun subgroups, riddles are termed as sundait (pronounced as soon/da/it) among the Rungus. Typically, a Rungus villager may ask “Monundait oku po [Let me ask you (a riddle)], ikau mengarait (you answer it.)” [Informant: Manadas Mogiom]. According to Lokman (2004), the word sundait in Kadazandusun is the combination of two words i.e. “sunundait” (to tell or to pose) and “karait” (to answer). The term varies between the different Kadazandusun subgroups. For example, the Tambunan Dusun refer to their riddles as sesandaiten or sunandait (Williams 1963). Evans (1951) also reported that in Kadamaian, Kota Belud, riddles and their answers are called sundait and araiton respectively (Evans 1951). In Kadazandusun, araiton means answering. To sum up, the term sundait is closely related to words like sosundaiton, susundoiton and sunundait as used by other Kadazandusun subgroups to denote a riddle.

A legend related to the origin of the Kadazandusun sundait was obtained from a Rungus informant during one field trip. Rundabang binti Linsapu (Informant 1) recounted the following: Once, a girl was wandering from one place to another looking for her life partner. On the way she met Rumolizan (one of the paddy spirits). At that time, Rumolizan was about to build a ladder for his sulap (hut). He decided to test the girl and uttered the phrase “kazimipas sudorudun” (kazimipas is a special type of wood and sudorudun refers to layers of things). To his surprise, the girl answered, “I know that you are going to build a tukat (ladder) for your hut”. Since the clever girl had been able to answer his riddle, Rumolizan decided to marry her. If this story of Rumlizan is truly an ancient one, it is conceivable that the riddle “kazimipas sudorudun” is one of the oldest Rungus sundait; and based on this evidence, the. Rinjamal Montuduk (Informant 2) added that since the time of the legend, riddling has been popular among the Rungus people. 
      Limpot Majalu (Informant 3) on the other hand, had this to say, “Ah, itu dulu-dulu ada orang Rungus pergi ke tempat bambarayon, dari situ bah mereka bawa balik itu sundait.” (“Ah, a long, long time ago, some Rungus went to the dwelling place of the bambarayon (paddy spirit); from there they brought back the sundait (riddles).”)
Both the above-mentioned Rungus legends seem to verify that the origin of the sundait is closely linked to legends of the paddy spirits.

The belief in bambarayon (paddy spirits) among the Kadazandusun can be traced back to the myths and legends of the various Kadazandusun subgroups. It is generally believed that after Kinoingan (the Chief God) and his spouse4 created the world and human beings, the people were visited by a great famine. In order to save the people from starvation, the deity and his wife decided to sacrifice their only daughter *5 by cutting her into small pieces, and from the different portions of her body grew all things good to eat: her head gave rise to the coconut, her arm-bones became sugar cane and her fingers, bananas. Most important of all, her blood sprang into the first rice plant. Thus the Kadazandusun believe that the transfigured sacrifice of Kinoingan’s daughter is embodied in the rice spirit known as bambarayon (Gidah 2001; Daily Express 2010; Leong 2010).
      According to the religious beliefs of the Rungus from Kudat district, bambarayon (pronounce as bambarazon by the Rungus) are a group of benevolent rice spirits. They live in a country beyond the sea, although no one can explain its whereabouts. One villager reported that bambarayon live at the edge of the Piromitan *6 layer where good spirits reside. Above the Piromitan layer is the Monkulun layer, where the most powerful spirits (or Gods) - Sambavon*7, Kinoringan, and Minamangun - live. These spirits on the Piromitan and Monkulun planes protect human beings from sickness, death, and other misfortunes, but they do not take care of rice. Only bambarayon can do this. The Rungus believe that rice was first brought to them by bambarayon in the remote past. To show their gratitude to the bambarayon for safeguarding their rice, the Rungus sacrifice fowl and pigs in their honour. If these ceremonies are not performed, a poor harvest is anticipated (Yutaka Shimomoto http://nirc.
      In addition, several Kadazandusun legends refer to the paddy spirits. One of them is the legend of the paddy without husks. In an earlier time, the Kadazan believed that rice grains did not have husks. Thus rice could be eaten immediately after harvesting. But this did not last very long; for one day, while passing through their neighbour’s field, some irresponsible people plucked the unripe grains from the stalks and put them into their baskets. They were even eaten without cooking. As a result, the spirit of the rice became angry and decided to cover the grains with husks, thereby protecting them from the people’s terrible plucking habits (Palikat 1988). 
      Gumpai Beringgit (Informant 1), a Tobilung Dusun, tells a different legend regarding the paddy spirit. According to him, there once lived seven brothers, and each of them had their own piece of land in which to cultivate paddy. During one harvest an old lady wearing an extra large wakid (traditional Kadazandusun backpack) came seeking a job as a paddy cutter. In those days, the payment for such job was in the form of a full wakid of paddy. Due to the large size of her wakid, six of the brothers refused to offer her a job; however the seventh and youngest brother was kind-hearted and let the woman work. At the end of the day, when he went to check on the old lady, to his surprise, she had disappeared from the middle of his paddy field. After that, the youngest brother’s paddy yield was greater than ever before. He knew that the old lady was in fact the paddy spirit and that she had come to test the farmers. In general, the Kadazandusun believe that there are seven types of paddy spirits and bambarayon is a general name given to all of them. Evans (1953) listed down all the seven types of paddy spirit and added another category which he named “The class of chief” in the beliefs of the Tempasuk Dusun. The seven spirits referred to are:

1. Ohinopot – helps guard the supply of paddy in the store.
2. Sambilod –looks after the damaged rice and sees that the amount does not increase.
3. Gontolobon – gives rice piled up in “boulders”.
4. Momiaud – gives paddy as abundant as spring water.
5. Moniudan – gives paddy as abundant as spring water.
6. Sompidot – gives opidot (full grain in the ear).
7. Kabang – makes the rice kambang (swell) in the cooking pot.

      Each type of paddy spirit has a distinct role to fulfill. Gontolobon, for example, has a special capability to supply rice piled up in huge quantities like tontolob (boulders). Prosperous farmers are assisted by most of the seven paddy spirits, who reside in their paddy fields and rice barns; whereas poor farmers are fortunate to receive the help of more than one or two. Evans in 1953 said, “I am told that at Kadamaian, the belief is that if a poor man has only one paddy spirit, it will be Sambilod, or if two, an Ohinopot and a Sambilod. Even the one spirit may desert him and go to a rich man’s house, where there is plenty of paddy, only returning when the poor man has a little paddy in store” (Phelan 2005). 
      Many paddy spirits related rituals are performed before, during and after the harvest. As reported in the Daily Express (2010) under the title “The Rituals of Tadau Kaamatan (Harvest Festival)”, the Kadazan of Penampang and Papar district have a series of six paddy spirits related ceremonies, whereas the Lotud Dusun in Tuaran district have eight. Listed below is a brief account of the six paddy spirit related ceremonies observed by the Kadazan:

1. The Kumogos Ceremony
Before a harvest begins, a bobohizan (ritual specialist) will select and tieup seven stalks of healthy paddy. The stalks will only be selected after the paddy field has been completely harvested. They will then be scatted over the plot. This gesture is to inform the spirits who may be present among the paddy not to cause any disturbances during the harvest; in return each of them will be given something after the harvesting has been concluded.

2. The Kumotob Ceremony
The bobohizan selects seven stalks of good paddy from the field prior to harvesting. These are then tied together and placed in a tadang (traditional basket for keeping rice). The rest of the rice in the field is then harvested. The seeds from the selected paddy are kept for use during the next planting

3. The Posisip Ceremony
The bobohizan takes the tadang containing the seven stalks of paddy to a paddy hut. While reciting chants, she removes the bundle of stalks and inserts them in a bamboo pole kept in the tangkob (large rice storage container). The recital of the chants is to request the paddy spirits to stay in the paddy hut until the next planting season, when the process will be repeated again.

4. The Poiib Ceremony
In the rice hut, the bobohizan carefully pours the rice into the tangkob. The same process is repeated a number of times until all the rice has been poured into the tangkob. The bobohizan then recites chants appealing to the rice spirits to keep watch over the rice stored in the tangkob.

5. The Magavau Ceremony
This ritual ceremony focuses on the restoration of bambarayon as well as offering the spirit food. In olden days, the Magavau ritual was performed in the paddy field on the night of the first full moon after the harvest. Nowadays, this ritual is carried out in the house of the owner of the field.

6. The Humabot Ceremony
After all the serious ritual ceremonies, it is time to celebrate the harvest festival. The Sabah state level Tadau Kaamatan (Harvest Festival) is held annually from 30th – 31st May. After all the merry-making, which includes feasting, singing and traditional dancing, the climax of the Tadau Kaamatan is performed: the selection of the Unduk Ngadau (Harvest Festival Queen).

The Unduk Ngadau symbolizes Huminudon, the daughter sacrificed by Kinoingan. (Daily Express 2010).

According to Kadazandusun beliefs, the role of the paddy spirits is to protect the paddy and to ensure a bountiful harvest. Hence it is important that the spirits are appeased and not offended. Impolite acts, such as shouting in the paddy field and riddling outside of harvest time, are to be avoided. Riddling at harvest time is however an activity designed to please the paddy spirits.

As the Kadazandusun traditionally believe that bambarayon lives in every grain of rice, harvesting must be carried out with the utmost care: no wastage is allowed. Many taboos are associated with harvesting and with the carrying home of the rice grain; for example, it is a bad omen if a sack of paddy which is being transported on the back of a buffalo from the paddy field to the storage barn happens to fall to the ground (Phelan 2005). According to the report published by the Sabah Museum (1993), the Kadazandusun believe that if riddling is carried out while bush clearing in the paddy field, the job may consume more time than usual or necessary. Hence they will avoid riddling at such times. 
      Evans (1951), who did his research in Kadamaian and Kahung Saraiyoh village on the west coast of North Borneo learnt that riddles were recounted among workers at harvest-time; while at Kadamaian, folk stories and riddles were exchanged, either in the field or in the home. Gansiau (Evans’ informant) told him that, if riddles were recited at other times of the year, the person concerned would be ration do rogon [answered by evil spirits and plagued by bad dreams] (Evans 1951). From observation and interviews, Williams (1963), who focused on the riddles of the Tambunan Dusun in the interior of North Borneo concluded that Dusun Riddling behavior in Tambunan district was associated with harvest activities and the attendant religious celebrations. He was told by his informants: “It is bad luck to say riddles at any time but harvest.” Williams’ records indicated that the observation of riddling behavior was less difficult during the two monthly
harvest periods than at other times. Besides, Williams (1963) remarked: “Thus, one is told, it is bad luck to say riddles any time but harvest”. Accordingly, both Kubin bin Bumbon (Informant 1) and Kanak binti Intang (Informant 2) stated in their interviews that in their youth, their parents used to remind them that it was a bad thing to pose a sundait while clearing bushes. They were advised to entertain themselves by listening to folktales instead. All the informants in this research said that they are prohibited from riddling except for during the paddy harvesting season. Kinindangang Masani (i) and Mongulintip Momgimbal (ii) for example commented as follows: 

i. Ah, hanya pada pesta, ah, musim menuai baru boleh “bersundait”. Kita tidak boleh “bersundait” kalau bukan musim menuai, musim menuai saja, ah. (Ah, only during the harvest, ah the harvest time then only we can carry out riddling. We do not allow riddling if it is not a harvest season, only during
harvesting time, ah.)

ii. Ah, sekarang musim menanam padi, sepatutnya tidak “bersundait”. Ah, musim dia, pabila sudah musim padi berbuah. Ah, jadi yang betul-betul masa mau mengetamlah... (Ah, now is planting paddy time, by right we shouldn’t do riddling. Ah, the right season is, when harvesting paddy. Ah, the correct timing is when we start harvesting…) When asked about why the Rungus can only carry out their riddling activities during harvest season, the above-mentioned informants replied

i. Em… sebab sundait ini, dia berkaitan dengan, dengan itu semangat padi bah, itu Odu-Odu. Semangat padi itu nama Odu-Odu. Ah, yang Odu-Odu  itu hanya muncul semasa musim menuai padi. Ah, itu sundait ada kaitan sama Odu-Odu, ah Bambarazon. (Informant: Kinindangang Masani)
(Er… because this sundait (riddle), it is connected with the paddy-spirits. It is Odu-Odu. The name of that paddy-spirit is Odu-Odu. Ah, Odu-Odu will appear when we harvest paddy. Ah, sundait have connection with Odu-Odu, ah bambarazon (paddy-spirits).
ii. Sebab kalau “bersundait”, dia boleh mengakibatkan tanaman itu tidak menjadi. Ah, dia jadi rosak (Informant: Mongulintip Momgimbal). (If we do riddling, the paddy plants may not grow well. Ah, they will be destroyed.)

      Because of such beliefs, any villager uttering sundait outside the harvest season is liable to be scolded by their parents or other elders in the village. As rice is the staple food for the Rungus, no breaking of the taboo associated with the paddy-spirits is tolerated. Furthermore, the Rungus believe that the paddy-spirits will only appear during the paddy harvesting season. Consequently, riddling at other times will not benefit them, but may offend the paddy-spirits. In contrast, the Rungus believe that if one utters a sundait at harvest time, the paddy-spirits will stay around to protect their paddy. “Menundait” (to pose a riddle) and “Mengarait” (to answer a riddle) are linked to this belief via the
legend recounted by Rundabang (Informant 3). According to the legend, the clever girl brought about the union of a paddy-spirit and a human being by answering the sundait posed by Rumolizan (one of the paddy-spirits). Since the marriage was possible because of a sundait, to “menundait” or to mengarait”, is seen as paying homage to the paddy spirit. One of the Tobilung Dusun sundait collected by the author is considered sacred by the paddy planters. Such sundait were specially created by Dusun ritual specialist known as bobolian. According to Gumpai Beringgit (Informant
4), in his youth only the bobolian was allowed to utter such sundait during the paddy harvesting season. Whenever a sundait was posed, it was compulsory for the hearer to answer it. These practices were a way of inviting the Bambarayon to their paddy fields. The peasants were prohibited from directly mentioning the paddy spirit so they would pose this sundait:

Oligo-oligongogono (i)
Olipo-olipantayo (ii),
Sondiu oku ondidigo (iii),
Kabai oku ondilungo (iv),
Binagung-bagung id sawat (v),
Tarok bungkau kud layagon (vi),
Rinji kanja kumanja (vii).
(Parai om Bambarayon)

(Informant 5: Simah Gurimit)
 (i) This line is a special form of charm which 
      uses the classical language of the Tobilung 
      Dusun. Its literal meaning is “an act of building 
      a wall” or “something at the wall”. 
(ii) This line is also a charm uttered in the
      Tobilung Dusun classical language. It means
      “having a desire to cross the wall without a
(iii) I am leaning and am surrounding (the object
      is not mentioned),
(iv) I am holding and giving support (the object is
      not mentioned),
(v) There is a bundle, (This “bundle” refers to the
      pusakag which is hanging on top of a Dusun
      Tobilung’s rice barn. It is believed to be the
      dwelling place of the paddy-spirits.)
(vi) The melody of bunkau (a musical instrument)
      calling them from the ocean,
(vii) They will come home.

[Answer: Paddy and Bambarayon (Paddy and Paddy

      This Tobilung Dusun Sundait 1 is posed annually and all the Tobilung folks know the answer. It is a charm used to invite the paddy spirits to the rice barn of the Tobilung Dusun to protect their paddy. The classical language used to perform this sundait is rich in analogies, symbols and metaphors and the whole riddle is closely related to the Dusun Tobilung beliefs in the paddy spirits.
      The relationship between the rice spirits and sundait is so significant that the Tambunan Dusun folk went to the extent to create a riddle with “rice spirit” as the riddle subject: “Kano makan ina om au idi kakita.” (Let us eat, but you cannot see it. Answer: Rice spirit). Williams (1963) went on to explain: After the rice harvest, the spirit of the rice comes to join in the celebrations. People cannot see her as she eats her food. The psychological aspect of “fear of the unknown” is used by the Rungus of Kudat district during riddling. If one cannot answer a sundait for example, the poser will say, “You must answer the sundait (riddle) or else someone (a spirit) will sleep with you tonight.” Such sayings will normally scare small children, and as a result they will try their very best to find the answer by asking their parents, friends or other villagers. But for the Dusun Gana residing in the district of Keningau, if one cannot answer a sundait, the poser will start giving clues; if the recipient is still unable to do so after being given several clues, the riddler has to provide the answer. Leaving the sundait unanswered is considered to be an invitation to the evil spirits to respond. The Kadazandusun will try their very best not to offend the paddy spirits. An example of this concern is evident at harvest time, when a special tool known as linggaman is used to harvest paddy instead of a sickle. Below is one of the sundait linked to the linggaman:

Tumullud i-nganingani,
Piopitan ddi ngani.
(llinggaman om mongomot)
(Informant 6: Addek Riupa)    
I-nganingani (just a sound) is flying,
Ngani (another sound rhyme with 
Inganingani ) has landed.

The answer to the above sundait is llinggaman om mongomot (llinggaman and harvesting paddy). The linggaman has a small blade which fits into the Palm of the hand, while its wooden handle protudes between the little finger and the ring finger. Most of the modern paddy farmers in Sabah now use a sickle to harvest paddy, in contrast to the olden days. The use of the llinggaman reflects the respect of the farmers for the rice spirits: they do not wish bambarayon to see the blade of the linggaman as the paddy stalks are being cut (Phelan 2005). According to the different Kadazandusun subgroups there are many other sundait with linggaman as the answer. The difference is in the sundait stems. Rosia binti Maisin (Informant 7), a Liwan Dusun supplied this sundait: “Adi kopisopongo, kopi songgodo kito.” (Younger brother come over here, together we rise up and compete with each other). Sakuian binti Keling (Informant 8), a Bundu Dusun supplied two riddles: (i) “Kano mindahu, mongoi toko sangod.” (Let us go to the field and have war together. Answer: Wakid (traditional
backpack) and a linggaman) and (ii) “Mansahau molohing, minturopik tanak.” (The adult is waiting; kids are flying around. Answer: Wakid (traditional backpack) and linggaman). The Tambunan Dusun also have one such sundait: “Meneni ketin-ketin, memikid tan-tan.” (The sound of tin-tin is whistled each year. Answer: linggaman). A linggaman is used at the time of harvest and it makes a tin-tin sound as it cuts down the paddy stalks (Williams 1963). These five sundait referring to the same object illustrate how important the linggaman is in the life of the Kadazandusun peasants: it is an essential medium through which to show respect to the paddy spirits.
      The close relationship between harvesting and riddling is also revealed in a Tambunan Dusun sundait: “Nahaba lugu tridenen kagu.” (The old wood falls and then comes up again. Answer: Harvesting and riddles). As Williams (1963) explains: once a year peasants cut down the paddy and then they tell riddles.
      All the informants verified that during the paddy harvesting season, riddling is carried out all day long - during harvesting on the hill, when at home with the family, on meeting friends, or during feasting and drinking sessions. Even though, undeniably, the Rungus carry out riddling activities at harvest time to amuse themselves, nevertheless the extent of this practice illustrates the depth of their traditional beliefs. Riddling activity can take place anytime after the first stalk of new paddy is harvested to before the planting of the nursery for the next season. There is much opportunity for these customary exchanges as the Kadazandusun adhere to the principle that the more time they spend in the paddy field; the more rice will be reaped. Thus, in order to make harvesting more pleasant and interesting, the harvesters “riddle” their time away. Their spirits are uplifted because, despite the intense heat and the hard work, they are engrossed in solving the riddle (Sabah Museum 1993; Lokman 2004).

An important question arises when examining Kadazandusun sundait texts: Why are there so many sundait about paddy, paddy-related activities and paraphernalia? Hart (1964) stated that scholars like Archer Taylor imply the existence of a selective process in the choice of the riddle subjects as portrayed in their riddle answers. With regard to selection, Hart (1964) has identified four factors. Firstly, riddle subjects are familiar subjects. Secondly, riddles usually deal with concrete objects, occasionally with processes, and rarely with abstractions. Thirdly, selection of riddle subjects is influenced by people’s value systems. Finally, selection of subjects is determined by their inherent riddle potentialities.
      Since rice is so important to the Kadazandusun, anything related to its cultivation is likely to be a source of inspiration for their sundait. The same can be said of the Philippines and Thailand, two nations where rice is also the staple food and a riddle subject frequently used by paddy planters. One Filipino riddle in particular, emphasizes the central role of rice: “If there is none, you will die”
[Answer: Rice] (Hart 1964).
      During a recent field trip, the author gathered many Kadazandusun sundait where paddy, paddy-related activities and paraphernalia featured as answers. The focus of the following discussions will be those Kadazandusun sundait published by Evans (1951; 1954), Williams (1963) and the outcome of the field work. Firstly, those sundait with “paddy” itself as the riddle subject (listed in Table 1 below) will be highlighted:
Table 1: Sundait with “Paddy” as Its Answer

Mohtua intalo konsok omilo
nogi akanon?
(Informant 2: Kanak binti
What fruit ripen three times then only can be
Answer and explanations: Paddy. When the
paddy grains are ripe (1st time of ripening);
after being harvested they have to be dried
under the sun or fried over a big pan without
oil (2nd time of ripening) and finally they are
boiled till cooked (3rd time of ripening).

 Puun poring tuak nagas.
(Evans 1951)
Plants of the large bamboo with fruit like
pebble ridges.
Answer and Explanation: Paddy – The
poring is the largest species of bamboo. It is
interesting that the Dusun note the kinship
between the bamboo and the paddy plant –
both grasses (Evans, 1951). 

 Igulu maganak, tahuri
(Evans 1951)
Gives birth first and is pregnant afterwards.
Answer and Explanation: Paddy – The seeds
gives birth to the young rice plant, and the rice
plant becomes pregnant with the grain (Evans

 Ondig pirompok kito, sopipori
(Evans 1951)
Girl companions standing in rows are we,
together having our heads taken.
Answer and Explanation: Paddy – In reaping,
the heads of the rice plants, all standing in
rows, are cut off by the reapers (Evans, 1951).


Mahak nogi pinohus om
anuon nogi; mahak nogi
pohusan om amok nogi onuon.
(Parai om korulu)
(Evans 1954)

When it is whittled, it is taken; when it is held
in the hand, it is not taken.
Answers and Explanation: Paddy and its stalks
– The reference appears to be to young paddy,
such as is used at the fruit fruits ceremony.
This is stripped from the stems by passing the
heads through the partially closed hand. What
is “whittled away” is, therefore, taken while
the stems, held in the left hand, are rejected.
Ordinarily, paddy is trodden out of the ear
(Evans 1954).


Matai anak do Sama, matai
migulik-gulik; matai anak do
Tindal, matai da kogulik.
(Parai ranau om parai tindal)
(Evans 1954)

When a child of a Sama dies, it returns again
and again; when a child of the Tindal dies, it
dies not to return.
Answers and Explanations: Wet Paddy and dry
paddy – This sundait ascribes wet paddy to the
Sama9 (Nowadays they are known as Bajau in
Sabah.) and dry paddy to the Tindal (Dusun).
“The child of the Sama” is said to return again
and again because wet-growing paddy is
planted year after year in the same fields. “The
child of the Dusun” does not return because
dry paddy lands, whether on the flat or the
hillsides, are only planted for one year, and
then abandoned. Re-use of such land does not
usually take place for several years, though
where the land is very good, hitherto unused
(Evans, 1954). This is not totally correct
nowadays, as much wet-growing paddy is
cultivated by some of the Kadazandusun.

Ipoi-ipoi takura po om id
(Williams 1963)

You care for it well when it is small; you slay
it when it is full grown.
Answer and Explanations: Paddy – When
small, a paddy plant is well taken care of by
the planter; it will be cut (harvested) when it is
full grown (Williams 1963).


Koperinan o goas kanagasan
(Williams 1963)

Bamboo at the stem but with fruit of stones.
Answer and Explanations: Paddy – When
paddy grows, the shoots are green and tender
like bamboo; when it is ripe, the grain is hard
like a stone (Williams, 1963). Note that this
Tambunan Dusun sundait is similar to the
Kahung Saraiyoh Dusun sundait (No.1). They
are only different in terms of the language used
and the sundait stem formed.

Gulu nogipagannak ko
(Williams 1963)

First giving birth, then pregnant.
Answer and Explanations: Paddy – When
planted paddy seeds grow, the Dusun call these
young paddy plants moganak (to have young);
when the paddy plants bear grains, they are
said to be pregnant (Williams, 1963). Note that
this Tambunan Dusun sundait is similar to the
Kahung Saraiyoh Dusun sundait (No.2). They
are only different in terms of the language used
and the sundait stem formed.


Tagad ko tanak tarantai
nakatagakon do gonsilo, moli
nopo id gonsilo ina ongomol
(Williams 1963)

I harvested the field and the yellow was gone.
I went home and found that the yellow had
Answer and Explanations: Paddy – The rice
grains are all yellow when ripe and when they
are cut (Williams 1963).


Koporingan o’guas
kosumbilingan o’ tuntuh.
(Guas parai)
(Informant 9: Anjulipah binti

The tree looks like bamboo but its end looks
like sumbiling (a small and thin bamboo).
Answer and Explanations: Paddy plant. The
shoot of the paddy plant looks like a bamboo
shoot, and its sharp end looks like a fine and
sharp bamboo. 


Tumagak manuk silou, gumuli
nga sanrayat-rayat oh tanak.
(Parai monilau)
(Informant 9: Anjulipah binti

Yellow hen get lost, it comes back with many
Answer and explanations: Paddy plant. Yellow
hen is the metaphor for paddy grains which are
yellow in colour. After the grains are harvested
(gone), they will be brought home in huge
quantities (metaphor for many chicks coming


Kopoguru maganak au koh
(Informant10: Ganing bin

Give birth first before being pregnant.
Answer and Explanations: Paddy. Similar to
sundait No. 2 and No. 8


Tanaknu putulon liu; ulakan
nu om tonokon nu; om
pimbabagan nu gisom do
oruta; au apatai okon nogi
(Tua do parai)
(Informant 11: Yusang bt

Your child’s neck was cut; you got stepped and
hit until crushed into pieces and then boiled;
you did not die but increased in number
Answer and explanations: Paddy grains.
First, the paddy plant was cut (harvested) and
stepped on to separate the grains from the
plant. Next the grains are pounded and finally
cooked. The cooked rice will swell thus and is
considered to have increased in number.


Palado kopo gia ondig,
Sumondot ko nogi sondoton,
Sumangkad nogi sangkadon,
Todop nu nogi tilombuson,
Tolong nu tibusuwon,
Kapo gia dagai ti ondig,
Molot-rolot nogi paku tiou,
Mirag-sirag nogi paku
Rundun patayan nogia dagai.
(Informant 12: Rubaya

A friend has got something,
Another one is getting jealous,
You come down,and down,
Your sleep will be continue,
and continue with a deep sleep,
But we are friends,
We are always facing problems,
Walking in between the bushes,
And finally being sacrificed.
Answer and explanations: Paddy. This sundait
is rich in classical Tobilung Dusun words,
analogies and symbols which are known only
to the ritual specialists. Hence the translations
provided here are only the approximate
meanings of each line. Gumpai Beringgit, the
translator of this sundait said that it is the last
line, “And finally being sacrificed” that implies
that the “paddy” has been cut.

The proliferation of sundait with “paddy” as the answer indicates the central role of rice in Kadazandusun life. These may be in a form of simple or long descriptions (Sundait No. 1-15) or in a more complex poetic form (Sundait No. 16). Sundait No. 15 may be amusing, but the descriptions are precise when come to describing the characteristics of the “paddy” from the moment it is harvested to the time it is cooked. Sundait No. 16 consists of many classical Tobilung Dusun words that are known only to their ritual specialists. Such sundait represent a genre of traditional chants in themselves, being rich in analogies and symbols. Typically, many lines rhyme with each other giving the chants an enchanting quality in terms of the language used. Such sundait serve to emphasize the notion of rice as sacred. 
      Continuing the analysis, it is interesting to note that sundait No. 3 (Table 1): Igulu maganak, tahuri monontian (Gives birth first and is pregnant afterwards) is similar to sundait No. 10: Gulu nogipagannak ko monontian. (First giving birth, then pregnant) and sundait No. 14: Kopoguru maganak au koh monantian (Give birth first before being pregnant). These similarities may be due to contact between the various Kadazandusun subgroups, but this does not account for the Filipino riddle: Umon-una nga aganak sa agbugui [First it gives birth before becoming pregnant. Answer: rice plant]? (Hart 1964)  Furthermore, sundait No. 8 (Table 1): Ipoi-ipoi takura po om id asukod (You care for it well when it is small; you slay it when it is full grown. Answer: Paddy) bears similarities to the Filipino riddle: Kung diotay guina palangga, kung dako na biya-biya [When small, beloved; when big, left alone. Answer: Rice plant] (Hart, 1964). At this point in time, it is hard to say whether such similarities are due to coincidence or the result of contact between the
Kadazandusun and Filipino peoples. Further research is needed to clarify the origins of these riddles, shared or otherwise. To summarise, Table 1 clearly reveals “paddy” to be a main sources of inspiration for Kadazandusun riddle writers.
      In term of wet paddy planting, one particular sundait contains a vivid description: Sanan tisan do raat nondilimon ko kadari kagonguli oku po ina bombrain nanperiison (By the edge of the sea, long ago, I went along. When I returned home, there were no green leaves to be seen). In this Tambunan Dusun sundait, the sea is a metaphor for the newly planted rice fields, for when they are flooded, they look like the sea; the people walk along the dikes at this time to go from one place to another. When one returns after harvest, the fields are bare and dry (Williams 1963). Such vivid descriptions refer to linagob (flooded paddy fields), binatan (paddy field dikes) and namut (harvest). In term of dry paddy planting, Yusang binti Kakoh (Informant 11) has a sundait with her: Mandus tandus-tandus id toguanngun nga mahalahap id tohuri (Those in front poking the soil while those behind bending over). This is a common act when planting dry paddy on the slope of a hill. And the answer for this
sundait is mangasok om monupos do parai (planting dry paddy). There is a specific sundait regarding preparing the hill for planting dry paddy: Surubon poh pintokonon nogi (Burn first then poking. Informant: Lanuin bt Bolintok). The answer for this sundait is tumoh (hill for planting dry paddy). It is normal practice for the hill site to be cleared and burned before the surface of the soil is poked with sharp stick to accomodate the paddy seeds. 
      Another sundait refers to the bearing of grains: Tumagak manuk silou, gumuli nga sanrayat-rayat oh tanak (Yellow hens are disappearing but many chicks are appearing later). According to Kanak binti Intang (Informant 2), yellow hens are metaphors for the paddy flowers, after they fall, many paddy grains (chicks) will appear later. When the paddy is ripe, it is time to guard again them from being eaten by birds. Such important farming activities clearly prompted the sundait creators to practice their art. Table 2 contains two such

Table 2: Sundait Related to Guarding the Ripe Paddy
Kulli no pitamangan, Apo nokulli ong it
(Momuhau ddot pirit)
(Informant 6: Addek bin Riupa)
The ones who are taken care of have
gone home but the caretaker remains
Answer and explanations: Guarding
the paddy field (scarecrow). When the
sparrows have flown away from the
paddy field, the scarecrow remains.

Songara gara managid, pakada sogodon.
Sumandak oh rumuba tombolog mogidu.
(Momuhau do parai)
(Informant 11: Yusang binti Kakoh)

The killers making lots of noise but
the victims are quite. When meeting
the sumandak (young girl) the killers
run away.
Answer and explanations: Scarecrow
guarding the paddy field. The killers
referred to the sparrows which make
a lot of noise while the paddy plants
remain quite. Sumandak (young girl) is
a metaphor for scarecrow.


Mongigol ikaiyangik mimpit ngaik
(Evans 1954)

Dancing and bending at the waist puts
to one side all that blows away.
Answer and explanations: A hawkshaped
scarecrow made from palmleaf
– Such a scarecrow, made from
coconut or sago-palm leaves, hangs
from a fairly long string attached to
a stick, thrust into the ground. They
dance in the wind with bending
movements like women dancers and
frighten away the birds. The things that
“blow (fly) away to one side” are the
birds (Evans 1954).

      Several sundait have “harvesting paddy” as their answer: Sangadau managad, amu innig ot llopok (Cutting trees throughout the day without the cutting sound). According to Mongulintip Momgimbal (Informant), cutting paddy is different from cutting trees which produces a loud noise. After the harvesting job has been done, the paddy has to be stored. In relation to this, the equipment used to store un-husked paddy and rice feature in many sundait. Listed in Table 3 are examples of sundait related to storing paddy. 

Table 3: Paddy Storing Related Sundait


1.  Sumandak inggoiiton nopuhabaian 
(Tangkob)(Evans 1954)
A young girl of the jungle already
Answer: (Bin made of tree-bark for
storing un-husked rice.)

2. Sadak-sadak bakalang, sangadau
(Evans 1954)

Talang fish, all day scaling them.
Answer: (Bin made of tree-bark for
storing un-husked rice.) 

3. Matai solugu setalun, muli sekulit
(Informant 2: Kanak binti Intang)

A tree died in the jungle, its skin
returned home.
Answer: (Lingkut – bin made from

Sundait No. 1 in Table 3 is associated with the traditional Kadazandusun practice, whereby a useful tree in the wild is said to belong to the person who first notifies others of its value. The notification is done in specific ways: for example, a man walking in the jungle may encounter a malapih tree which has bark suitable for making cylindrical store-bins for rice without husks. He will then tie a ring of rattan cane around the tree as a notification that it is “engaged” to him (Evans 1954). Sundait No. 2 in Table 3 uses the Talang fish as a metaphor for the malapih tree, and the bark to make the bins is scaled from the tree. Finally, Sundait No. 3 in Table 3 is a straight forward reference to lingkut – a Kadazandusun traditional rice store-bin made from tree-bark.
      After being harvested, other works need to be carried out before paddy is pounded in the traditional way. The Kadazandusun peasants either sun them, or use a special method to dry the paddy as revealed in this Tobilung Dusun sundait: Gumara songkokubangan salagon di lumpion (The whole valley was noisy stirred by lumpion (a tool used to stir paddy in a big frying pan) [Informant 13: Abar Gumpai]. The answer to this sundait is gumooi (People frying paddy on the big frying pan without oil for the purpose of drying them). The husked dry paddy has to be pounded before it can be cooked. For this activity, Bunou Masipman (Informant 14) has a sundait: Llinggallinggahon ddallid, timubburullai pallang (A piece of stick keeps on knocking and a white substance appears later). This sundait refers to the act of pounding paddy, when a rice pounder hits the unhusked paddy, its husk comes off, revealing the white rice. After all the husks have been removed from the paddy due to the pounding, it is time to separate the husks and the white rice. Not surprisngly, sundait have also been created to describe this process: 

(i) Mara-gara mingana, solovoton do limo, id tanga kaganaan [Noises are on flat land, meeting five solovoton (symbolizes five fingers holding the tray while winnowing paddy) at the middle of kaganaan (the space which separate the husks and the white rice)]. This sundait describes the act of winnowing paddy where the tray will be moved from left to right and vice versa untill all the husks and the white rice have been separated (Anjulipah, Informant 9).

(ii) Iri kesimbor au anuan; iri au kesimbor anuan nogi. (Those that are jumping around will not be taken; those that are not jumping around will be taken). Those jumping around are the paddy husks, while those not jumping are the white rice grains which are heavier than the husks (Informant 2: Kanak binti Intang).

After the process of separating the paddy and its husks, the white rice is ready to be cooked. Several sundait refer to the cooking of the rice. Traditionally, the rice was boiled in a pot over a fire. Hence the sundait: Mara-gara i-ondiu singkulon do maragang. (The hawk cries aloud when thrust by the red). The answer is tapoi om rinakan (fire and a boiling pot of rice). In this sundait, the hawk is the pot which is thrust at by the red tongues of flame. The pot, as it boils, bubbles and shrieks (Evans, 1954). For the sundait creator, the cooked rice resembles “Giring-giring pantai rahat kaasakan.” (Little bells at the edge of the seashore with the tide ebbed), to which the answer is akanon (cooked rice). Evans (1951) explains, that when cooking rice, the water is boiled away until the grains are dry.       The close connection between paddy, paddy spirits and sundait does not end here. From the rice, the Kadazandusun brew various beverages such as padi tapai (rice wine), lihing or hiing (rice wine sediment) and talak or montoku (distilled rice wine). Rice wine is also one of the main offerings to bambarayon during the thanksgiving ceremony to the paddy spirits. Other than rice, the main ingredients needed to brew rice wine are yeast balls, which have their own sundait: Tontoluk ponsu, sinuluh, mongologiau tinuk (Eggs of a turtle, pierced with a cord that are warbling now). Yeast balls are white and more or less the size of turtles’ eggs. They are pierced with a strip of rattan and hung up by it to dry (Evans 1954). Table 4 describes two sundait related to rice wine and the effect of drinking it: 

Table 4: Rice Wine Related Sundait

 Sompidding ulan-ulan, Pingansak ddo
(Tapai )
(Informant 6: Addek bin Riupa)
A piece of the “moon” gives rise to
Answer and explanations: Tapai – Rice
wine. A person may become courageous
after drinking rice wine.


Kara monuvang bbotung, kara avanit.
(Kinomol miinum)
(Informant 15: Mongulintip Momgimbal)

A Monkey fills up the lake and gets
Answer and explanations: A person
drinking rice wine and who gets drunk.

The solving of sundait is a harvest time amusement for the Kadazandusun folks. While gathering paddy into their wakid (backpacks), they will engage in posing and solving sundait. The practice helps them to make an otherwise monotonous job somewhat pleasant. Wrong answers to riddles produce ripples of laughter and the weary hours of labour pass pleasantly. Kaivola-Bregenhoj (2001) and other riddle researchers considered that leisure time to be the most popular occasion for riddling. For the Kadazandusun however, riddling is a way of killing time during the day while labouring under the hot sun. Sundait are also posed at tapai (rice wine) drinking sessions when groups of men and women gather together in one house after completing a hard day’s work. The offering of tapai (rice wine) by the paddy planter is considered a reward for those who helped him in the paddy field. This is done in lieu of wages as there is no payment in money for community cooperation in the work of the fields (Fernando 1978). Concerning the relationship between rice wine and sundait,
Evans (1954) said, “Their effect, when the drink has been made, is to make everybody sing, “as now” riddles being asked – when the people are drinking and rejoicing at harvest-time”.
      All the sundait referred to in the above discussions are concerned with the four principle agricultural operations: (1) soil preparation; (2) planting; (3) care, and (4) harvest (Honigmann 1959). Rice itself is clearly the main attraction to the Kadazandusun riddle creators, based on the 16 documented sundait with “paddy” as their answer. Second in terms of popularity are the sundait with answers related to matters such as preparation for planting, dry (hill) and wet paddy planting, the paddy field, paddy planting activities, bearing of paddy grains, guarding the paddy field, harvesting, paddy storing, the bin for storing paddy, paddy pounding, rice cooking and finally the rice wine used in conjunction with praying to the paddy spirits and rejoicing at harvest-time. In comparison, although rice is a staple food for other Southeast Asian countries, like the Philippines and Indonesia, it does not feature in their riddles any more than other crops. Rice is not a common riddle subject among pagan Filipinos, and when several hundred Indonesian riddles were examined, rice was the subject of only a few (Hart 1964). Although a colleague of Hart (1964) wrote to him that his “impression” is that rice is a frequent subject in Thai riddles, unfortunately, he did not furnish any figure to support this assertion. Furthermore, Kaivola-Bregenhoj (2001) conceded that themes common and important in a culture may, on the other hand, be missing entirely from the answers to riddles. Although lime trees and oaks are common species in the Cheremis forests, they Never appear as the answers to riddles. Some scholars believe the reason for this is that limes and oaks were used as sacrificial trees in sacred groves; using them as answers to riddles would, therefore, have been taboo (Kaivola-Bregenhoj 2001). But this does not apply to the Kadazandusun. Hart (1964) goes on to say, rice may be a common riddle subject in one Southeast Asian country where its animistic nature is accepted by most of the people. This explains why so many paddy related sundait have been amassed by the Kadazandusun people of Sabah over the last hundred years.

As rice is the staple food of the Kadazandusun their belief in paddy spirits is clearly of great significance. They consider that the role of these spirits is to protect their paddy and to ensure a healthy harvest. In return for this protection the spirits need to be appeased, while giving offence is to be avoided at all costs. As well as carrying out rituals, the Kadazandusun practice riddling at harvest-time as an additional form of appeasement. Consequently, a plethora of sundait has been created over the centuries for this purpose. Many of the sundait subjects relate to paddy practices and paraphernalia (specifically wet and dry paddy planting, preparing the site for paddy planting, the act of planting paddy, bearing of paddy grains, guarding the paddy field, harvesting paddy, equipment used to harvest paddy, equipment used for storing un-husked paddy and rice, the process of drying the harvested paddy, pounding and winnowing paddy, cooking rice, the rice wine and most interestingly - the paddy spirit itself). The wealth of sundait subjects related to paddy and paddy farming indicates the importance of rice to the Kadazandusun; and if nothing else, this study has highlighted that the close relationship between the belief in paddy spirits, riddling in harvest-time and those sundait with paddy as its answers is indeed a prominent characteristic of traditional Kadazandusun cultural practice. 

1.  The term Kadazandusun - officially coined in the 1990s - is a combination of the words Kadazan and Dusun, devised with the aim of uniting all the subethnic groups encompassed by these two major ethnic groups. The official Kadazandusun language was first taught in schools in 1997 (Reid 1997).
According to the constitution of the Kadazandusun Cultural Association of Sabah (KDCA), Kadazandusun is a generic term for forty indigenous communities of Sabah (Topin 1996). All the informants involved in this research i.e. Bundu, Gana, Liwan, Lotud, Rungus, Tobilung etc. are listed as Kadazandusun sub-ethnic groups in the above mentioned source.

2.  Regarding agriculture practice, in the interior district of Tambunan practically every family in the seventy sectors under review has its own paddy field and is thus self-supporting in the commodity. In 1976, four thousand three hundred acres of wet paddy and one thousand seven hundred and fifty acres of hill paddy were cultivated in Tambunan district. The people in Keningau district cultivated five thousand forty three acres of wet paddy and one thousand five hundred and seventeen acres of hill paddy in the same year (Fernando 1978). 

3.  A variety of synonyms are used for the term “paddy spirit (s)” such as paddyspirit (s) or rice spirit (s) [rice-spirit(s)] or rice soul (s) [rice-soul (s)].

4.  The name of Kinoingan’s spouse varies according to the different Kadazandusun subgroups. Typically, she is referred to as Suminundu, Umunsumundu and Yumun (Evans 1922; Williams 1965; Leong, 1968). 

5.  The only daughter of Kinoingan (Kadazandusun Chief God) is now commonly known as Huminudon. She volunteered to sacrifice herself in order to save the human race from famine. According to legend, Ponompuan’s flesh became rice, and most sacred of all, her spirit dwelled in the paddy, and became the Sevenin- One Bambarayon, the rice spirit. Since then, Penompuan has been referred to as Huminudon (The Transformed Sacrifice) in the context of Kinoingan’s salvation of the Kadazandusun people (Topin, 2003). 

6.  Piromitan is a layer in the sky. Luma’ag, Dioato, Lugu, and Onkusigal spirits reside on Piromitan. All these spirits help human beings (Yutaka Shimomoto http://nirc.nanzan-u.ac.jp/publications/afs/pdf/a339). 

7.  Sambavon is stronger than any other spirit on Piromitan. Minamangun is the creator and the most powerful deity. Kinoringan is the second most powerful deity (Yutaka Shimomoto http://nirc.nanzan-u.ac.jp/publications/afs/pdf/ a339).

8. The transcription of this sundait and the rest of the sundait in this paper are based on the oral reports from the informants representing the different Kadazandusun subgroups. Sundait spellings are in accordance with the informants’ spoken language. In other words, all the transcriptions (in terms
of spelling) in this paper are not the same among the different Kadazandusun subgroups; neither are they representative of the official Kadazandusun language.

9.  Ethnically, Sama or Bajau or Sama-Bajau are Malays and they exhibit many Malay cultural traits. They are referred to by many names: Orang Seleter in Johor and the waters off Singapore, Orang Suku Laut in Riau and Sama-Bajau in the southern Philippines, Sabah and Sulawesi (Harrisson 1975). ‘Sama’ in Malay means ‘kita’ or ‘we’. It is believed to have originated from within the group itself, a belief supported by the fact that it is still commonly used as a term of in-group reference. This practice is almost universal in Sabah, the southern Philippines and in southern Indonesia (Gusni Saat 2003). 

This research was conducted under the Universiti Malaysia Sabah Seed Money Grant (2009-2010). The author would like to thank Mr. John Mark Storey (proof-reader) and the anonymous reviewer from MALIM who provided many constructive comments prior to publication.

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Notes: The sequence of informants listed below is based on the order in which
they appeared in this article. The words “bin” and “binti” in the middle of the
name indicate “male” and “female” respectively. With reference to the venue,
the Malay word “Kampung” means village.

Informant: Kubin bin Bumbon
Age: 73
Ethnicity: Gana Dusun
Venue: Kampung Apin-Apin,
Profession: Farmer
Date of interview: 3 June 2010
 Informant: Kanak binti Intang
Age: 68
Ethnicity: Liwan Dusun
Venue: Kampung Pangas, Apin-Apin,
Profession: Farmer
Date of interview: 2 June 2010
Informant: Rundabang binti Linsapu
Age: 74
Ethnicity: Rungus
Venue: Kampung Matunggung,
Profession: Farmer
Date of interview: 26 Sept. 2009
 Name: Gumpai bin Beringgit
Age: 60
Ethnicity: Tobilung
Venue: Kampung Kukut-Timbang
Menggaris, Kota Belud
Profession: Village head
Date of Interview: 19 Mei 2010
 Informant: Simah binti Gurimit
Age: 65
Ethnicity: Tombilung
Venue: Kampung Timbang, Kota
Profession: House wife
Date of interview: 19 May 2010
Informant: Addek bin Riupa
Age: 84
Ethnicity: Rungus
Venue: Kampung Matunggung, Kudat.
Profession: Farmer
Date of interview: 26 Sept. 2009
Informant: Rosia binti Maisin
Age: 42
Ethnicity: Liwan
Venue: Kampung Warisan, Inanam.
Profession: Farmer
Date of Interview: 18 Oct. 2008
Informant: Sakuian binti Keling
Age: 59
Ethnicity: Bundu
Venue: Kampung Tombong, Kiulu.
Profession: Farmer
Date of Interview: 20 Dec. 2009
Informant: Anjulipah binti Kindog
Age: 59
Ethnicity: Gana
Venue: Kampung Apin-Apin,
Profession: Farmer
Date of interview: 2 June 2010
Informant: Ganing bin Sagunting
Age: 70
Ethnicity: Gana
Venue: Kampung Apin-Apin,
Profession: Farmer
Date of interview: 2 June 2010
Informant: Yusang binti Kakoh
Age: 55
Ethnicity: Dusun Gana
Venue: Kampung Ranggom, Apin-
Apin, Keningau.
Profession: Farmer
Date of interview: 3 June 2010
Informant: Rubaya binti Salaodin
Age: 70
Ethnicity: Tobilung
Venue: Kampung Timbang, Kota
Profession: House wife
Date of interview: 19 May 2010
Informant: Abar bin Gumpai
Age: 47
Ethnicity: Tobilung
Venue: Kota Belud
Profession: Native Chief, Kota
Date of interview: 17 May 2010
 Informant: Bonuo binti Masipman
Age: 57
Ethnicity: Rungus
Venue: Kampung Matunggung, Kudat.
Profession: Farmer
Date of interview: 24 September 2009
Informant: Mongulintip binti
Age: 60
Ethnicity: Rungus
Venue: Kampung Guomon,
Matunggung, Kudat.
Profession: Farmer
Date of interview: 24 Sept. 2009
Informant: Manandas Mogiom
Age: 56
Ethnicity: Rungus
Venue: Kampung Guomon,
Matunggung, Kudat.
Profession: Farmer
Date of interview: 24 Sept. 2009