8 Unique Cultures Of Kadazans That You Should Know About

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We live in a multiracial country comprises not only Malay, Chinese and Indian, but other ethnic groups as well. The Kadazans are the largest single indigenous group in Sabah. Most of them are found in the western part of the country, in the Tambunan District of the interior and in the Labuk Valley on the east coast. Let’s be honest, despite that they are also a part of Malaysian, but how much do we actually know about them?


1) Language

Kazadans share the same language as Dusun albeit with differences in dialect. These may be useful for you – kotohuadan: thank you; siou no: I am sorry; houson zou: I am hungry.

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2) Main source of income

The Kadazans are predominantly agriculturalists, and it can be said that almost all the rice cultivated in Sabah is grown by them.

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3) Festival Celebration

Their most important festival is the Kaamatan or harvest festival, where the spirit of the paddy is honoured after a year’s harvest. This takes place in May. During the celebration, the most celebrated event is the crowning of the ‘Unduk Ngadau’ – the harvest queen in Kadazan.

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4) Religion

Majority of the Kadazans are Christians, particularly around Penampang and the larger towns. In the district of Ranau, there are also a number of Kadazans who have embraced Islam.

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5) Marriage Custom

They practice arranged marriage. The parents of both sides will make the decision of engagement when the boy is at the age of twelve and girl is eleven. The Kadazans call this ‘miatod’.

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6) Birth and naming of a child

When a child is born, a leaf known as wongkong is immediately tied over the door. The name of the new born baby is chosen by the grandparents. The names chosen are taken from these ancestors and are based on the nature around them such as the names of trees, animals, and so on.

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7) Dance and music

Sumazau is their traditional dance often performed during the harvest festival or joyous ceremonies. It is danced by farmers, both male and female, who are wearing traditional dress, in black and red. The dance will be accompanied by gongs.

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8) Cuisine

Traditional Kadazan cuisine are cooked in a healthy way – boiling, grilling and with a little use of oil. It also uses locally available ingredients, such as bamboo shoots, sago and fresh water fish. The more popular dishes include hinava, pinasakan, and hinompuka etc.

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