The Rungus Longhouse of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo – A Dying Architecture
School of Housing, Building and Planning Universiti Sains Malaysia
The Rungus tribal group can be found in the northeast corner of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, 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. Village life is usually communal and the village is the major political unit 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. Unfortunately, all of these unique beliefs seem to have disappeared through time, thus requiring proper documentation of the longhouses. 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 in a land that is surrounded by nature.
Key words: Rungus people / longhouse / communal / spirit / environment
© Owned by the authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2015
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.