Identification and Location. The Rungus identify themselves, their customs, and their dialect group isoglot by the autonym Rungus. A number of other self-ascribed Dusunic-speaking ethnic groups live in the Kudat Division, including the Nulu' and the Gonsomon, both of which sometimes are mistakenly identified as Rungus. In , the population was estimated to be ten thousand. The population was estimated to be twenty-five thousand in The peoples of Borneo were influenced by the Chinese either directly or by trade through intermediaries. Antique Chinese ceramics are common. Contact with southern Indians is manifested in some linguistic cognates with Sanskrit , the most important being divato', the spirit familiar of the Rungus priestesses. In the sixteenth century Muslim traders spread Islam along the coast of Borneo.
History and Cultural Relations
The Rungus in the north of Sabah Kudat area are arguably the most traditional ethnic group here. They remain remarkably strong in this time of transition, and keep up with an age-old life-style. Their life, as that of most tribes in Borneo, turns around rice: the preparing of the padi filed, or the clearance of a hill plot, the growing of rice and looking after it, and finally the harvest. Large coconut and banana groves enable the Rungus to get cash, but in all, their traditional life-style suits them very much and seems to keep them out of trouble and stress. The Rungus seem to have been the last Dusunic immigrants to Sabah to settle here permanently, long before the arrival of the British. They have up to-date conserved much of their cultural heritage. The Rungus are a sub-group of the Kadazan-Dusun, with a distinctive language and a few dialects, architecture, adat customs , and outfit. Many people still, especially from the elder generation, dress they way they have attired when they were still unaffected by outside influences, and it is presumed that most of the other tribes of the Kadazan-Dusun community had similar dresses and attires: simple black sarongs for the women, wide black trousers for the men and beaded accessories.
The Momogun Rungus are an ethnic group of Borneo , residing primarily in northern Sabah in the area surrounding Kudat. A sub-group of the Kadazan-Dusun , they have a distinctive language, dress, architecture, customs, and oral literature. As with most indigenous ethnic groups in Borneo, culture revolves around rice ; however, coconut and banana groves provide cash income. Women weave cloth on backstrap looms , and make containers from vine or beadwork. Many Rungus now work in town, and have abandoned the communal life of the longhouse for modern Malaysian society. Traditionally animist , with female shamans , most Rungus are now Christian. Considered one of the most traditional ethnic groups in Sabah, many Momogun Rungus live in longhouses , with each family having its own separate quarters off a common hall. At the edge of the communal hall, a well-ventilated platform of split bamboo with outward sloping walls provides a place for socialising and communal work.
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