The Architectural and Cultural Heritage of Sabah - The Rungus Longhouse
School of Housing, Building and Planning, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Minden, 11800 Penang, Malaysia
This paper dwells into heritage tourism that is related to the architectural and cultural heritage of the Rungus people of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. It investigates the cultural influence on the architecture of the longhouse. The Rungus tribal group can be found in the northeast corner of Sabah, farming the land mostly on agricultural products in small scale plantations. Their longhouses, facing extinction, are dual-purpose dwellings, constructed entirely of traditional materials utilising small split timbers lashed with rattan for the frame, palm fronds for the thatched roof, split bamboo for the floor and tree bark of hewn wood for the compartment walls. Each family has its own separate quarters off a common hall for socialising and community work and village life is usually based on the cultural traditions. Strongly related to the spirit of the place, the ‘rice spirit’, in particular, figures prominently in the Rungus people’s beliefs and practices in controlling the spirits and the people’s daily life and often governed by the words of the bobohizans, the high priestess. The objectives gear towards analysing the architectural values and investigating cultural understanding associated with the longhouses. Most importantly, the issue of how the Rungus people relate to the environment is studied through the tangible and intangible cultural aspects of the people. The research utilises the observation technique, interviews with the residents, visual data collection and measured drawings of five longhouses as the processes to document data. The paper instigates an investigation into the conformity of the Rungus people of their place in the environment to perpetuate their lifestyle blessed with a unique heritage found in their architecture and culture, in a land where nature reigns. It is a heritage that worth a second look in the tourism industry of Sabah.
© Owned by the authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2014
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