Lundayeh ladies in their costume
by amde sidik
This is how I view Lundayeh community, briefly, from my perspectives. What others have to say is entirely up to them.
Lundayeh ethnic group in Sabah concentrates in Sipitang district, numbered about 10,000 (rough estimate).
They were one of the groups considered by the Brunai as Orang Darat* (ethnic that lives on the Upper land or hinter land)
They were originally from North Western part of Kalimantan, Indonesia. Since Sipitang district shares common border with Kalimantan (not far from Long Pasia), thus quite natural for this group of people crossed the border in unorganized fashion.
They were rightly recognized as hill people rather than sea. Farming and agriculture are quite natural profession for them as fishing to coastal people
The very same people found in Fifth Division of Sarawak, ironically called Lunbawang instead. Nothing is different. The grandson probably is eating soto in Sipitang while the granddad is sipping tea tarik in Lawas overlooking Lawas River. In other words, they were the same root. The different perhaps is they are the same people in the eyes of other communities.The Sabah Lundayeh and the Sarawak Lunbawang couldn’t careless to agree with the name.
From the moment I opened my eyes I didn’t remember if they were differences between them and other communities nearby that I knew of. The only social dividing line is religion. Most modern Lundayeh are practicing Christian follower of a little group known as Sidang Injil Borneo found only in Borneo, but like any other ethnics they are Lundayeh Muslims too.
They have fair skin. The young Lunadyeh boys and girls aren’t have such distinguishable complexion compare with other communities. They have their own language-some say dialect; the term I’m not that particular.
In Sipitang, they could be categorized as having two earlier groups (I don’t think it matters but to some say they do) the earlier Lundayeh mostly from Sarawak, and some like to call themselves as Lunbawang too rather suspiciously or deviously. Notably they say this older group of migrants is milder and softer type compare with the latter.
The new arrival came directly from Kalimanatan as later as 70s, many were born in Kalimantan but benefited dual citizenship (Malaysia and Indonesia) by the very system, the porous border system we have in the jungle almost at the heart of Borneo.
Among the important institutions which is still practiced to date by Lundayeh/Lundbawang together with other ethnics in Sipitang is Tamu Besar. Its the occasion when people converged without borders regardless their ethnics or religions.
Whilst talking about myself, my grandfather was Lundayeh or Lunbawang? My birth certificate has this to display (/), Kadayan/Lundayeh, luckily it has nothing to do with religion otherwise someone has to korek-unearth my grave one day by the time I’m defenseless-wonder if I have already settled somewhere midway or at the extreme end, heaven or hell? Could I not protest?
*The Mystic of Borneo By Amde Sidik, published by Borneo Publishers for Malaysia Edition, 2008 (reprint) and Bookstand Publishing for International Edition, 2007