Head-hunters’ old beat keeps tradition alive

Dancers from the Dusun Gana indigenous community with ironwood poles used for the ‘Monsilad’ dance. — NST picture by Edmund Samunting
Dancers from the Dusun Gana indigenous community with ironwood poles used for the ‘Monsilad’ dance. —     picture by Edmund Samunting

 

KOTA KINABALU: Generations ago, a celebratory dance greeted warriors after successful head-hunting missions deep in Sabah’s dense forests.

 

Though head-hunting has ended, the “Monsilad” dance lives on among some 5,000 Dusun Gana people who today perform it at weddings, the annual harvest festival and at other special occasions.

Poles made of ironwood, or belian, are clapped together in a rhythmic beat and dancers jump between the fast-moving timbers without getting their feet trapped.

For the first time, the community showcased “Monsilad” to large crowds at the Sabah Fest over the weekend at the Magellan Sutera Harbour Resort, alongside the “Magunatip” dance of the Murut people, which uses bamboo poles.

Primary school teacher Yojod Ijai, who led a team of dancers from their home in Bingkor in Keningau, said he was excited the Dusun Gana were invited to showcase their culture here in the city.
“There are about 5,000 Dusun Gana people.

“Many are farmers, and quite a number have joined the civil service.

“We want to keep our tradition alive.

“Most of the dancers we brought for the Sabah Fest are students learning the importance of the ‘Monsilad’.

“The belian wood poles, which we call ‘tututu’, are traditionally used to pound padi husks.”

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Filed under Kadazandusun, Sabah News

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