Malaysia :: People

  1. Orang Asli (general term used for Negrito, Senoi and Proto-Malay) in Peninsular Malaysia

  2. Dayaks (collective term used for Iban, Bidayuh and Orang Ulu) in Sarawak

    The Dayaks typically live in longhouses (traditional community homes that can house 20 to 100 families) near rivers. However, families with many children are building separate houses near the community longhouses. Roofs that once would have been made of palm leaves are now corrugated metal. Today, many longhouses have electicity and water supply.

    • IBAN: Although many Ibans are now Christians, festivals involving traditional costumes, dancing and drinking of rice wine are still celebrated.

    • BIDAYUH: The distinctive architectural and cultural feature of the Bidayuh is their community building called "baruk" which is used for story-telling, ceremonies and festivals.

    • ORANG ULU: literally means "upriver people" and was originally given to the major Kayan and Kenyah tribes in Sarawak. However, the definition has been expanded to include smaller tribes with cultural similarities. The Orang Ulu are artistic people ... (a) their longhouses are elaborately decorated with murals and woodcarvings, (b) their utensils are embellished with intricate beadwork, and (c) aristocratic ladies cover their hands, arms, legs and feet with detailed tattoos. Orang Ulu are also great dancers and musicians ... their unique music coming from the sape, a boat-shaped lute with two to four strings.

  3. Kadazan-Dusun, Bajau and Murut are the largest indigenous groups in Sabah

    • KADAZAN-DUSUN consists of two tribes (Kadazan and Dusun) grouped together as they both share similar language and culture. They have their own unique dance called "Sumazau" performed by a couple (male and female) or couples. Here, you see the sumazau dance with a bamboo orchestra.

    • BAJAU were once seafaring people who migrated to Sabah from the Philippines and settled on the coastal areas. There are two main groups.

      The east coast Bajau: Each year, the Bajau Laut tribes of Semporna invite everyone to enjoy the Regatta Lepa where they showcase their colourful traditional sailboats decked with musicians and dancers. The traditional dress of the Bajau women includes a headdress in the shape of a ship. In this video on the traditional Bajau dance called "limbai", you will see dancers in their traditional dress.

      The west coast Bajau: The Bajua of Kota Belud have chosen to leave behind their seafaring ways for farming, cattle-rearing and horse-breeding. Their equestrian skills have earned them the nickname "Cowboys of the East".

    • MURUT are mostly shifting cultivators of hill paddy and tapioca, supplementing their diet with wild game and fish. Traditional dress for men is a jacket made of tree bark, a red loincloth, and a headdress decorated with pheasant feathers. Women wear a black sleeveless blouse (decorated with distinctive beadwork) and a sarong.