From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Lun Bawang
Lun Bawang
Total population
c. 38100
Regions with significant populations
 Indonesia 25000 (1987 census) [1]
 Malaysia 12800 (1982 SIL) [1]
 Brunei 300 (1987 Langub) [1]
Lun Bawang; dialects include TrusanLun DayePapadiLun DayahAdangTabun,TrengKolurPadasTrusan & Lepu Potong
Predominantly Christianity, minorities are Islamand animist
Related ethnic groups
Kelabit, Lengilu, Putoh, Sa’ban & Tring

The Lun Bawang is an ethnic group found in Central Borneo. They are indigenous to the highlands of East KalimantanBrunei (Temburong District), southwest of Sabah (Interior Division) and northern region of Sarawak (Limbang Division). In the Malaysian state of Sarawak, the Lun Bawang (through the term Murut) are officially recognized by the Constitution as native of Sarawak[2] and are categorised under the Orang Ulu people; whilst in the neighbouring state of Sabah and Krayan highland in Kalimantan, they are more commonly known as Lundayeh orLun Daye. In Brunei, they are also identified by law as one of the 7 natives (indigenous people) of Brunei, through the term Murut.[3] At a regional level, the Lun Bawang people identified themselves using various names, for example Lun Lod, Lun Baa’ and Lun Tana Luun.

Lun Bawang people are traditionally agriculturalists and practise animal husbandry such as rearing poultrypigs and buffaloes. Lun Bawangs are also known to be hunters and fishermen.




The word Lun Bawang means people of the country, whilst Lun Dayeh means upriver people or people of the interior and Lun Lod means people living downriver or near the sea. Other names are derived from geographical reference to their rice cultivation, for example Lun Baa’ (swamps) who lives near swampy areas and grow wet rice, and Lun Tana’ Luun (on the land) who cultivates dry rice.

While insisting that they never called themselves Murut, the Lun Bawangs were formerly identified as Murut by the British colonists and by outsiders (other ethnic group).[4] In Lun Bawang language, the word Murut either means ‘to massage’ or ‘to give dowry’, and these meanings have little or no relation at all to the identity of the people.[5] The name Murut might have been derived from the word “Murud”, a mountain located near an old Lun Bawang settlement, hence might have just meant ‘mountain men’ or ‘hill people’ but was instead used by the colonist to identify this ethnic.

In addition to that, ethnologist found that the classification under the name Murut is confusing as the term is used differently in Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei, that is whilst in Brunei and Sarawak it is used to describe the Lun Bawang people, in Sabah it is used to identify an ethnic group that is linguistically and culturally different from the Lun Bawangs.[6][7]

In the early 1970s, the use of the term Lun Bawang began to gain popularity amongst ethnologist and linguist, and it is now the most commonly used term to identify this ethnic group. In Sarawak, the decision to replace the term ‘Murut’ to ‘Lun Bawang’ to identify this ethnic group was made unanimously by Lun Bawang community leaders,[5] and the official usage of this term is now legally binding following the passing of Interpretation Act by Sarawak’s Legislative Assembly in 2002.[8]


The Lun Bawangs made up of one of the ethnic natives that occupied the Borneo Island for centuries. According to Tom Harrisson (1959) and S. Runciman (1960), the Lun Bawang Community is one of the earlier settlers in the mountainous regions of central Borneo and they are related to the Kelabit tribe. Both tribe are linked to a common lineage termed the Apo Duat people, of which Apo Duat is the area consisting of the Krayan highland and Kelabit Highlands.

One theory suggests that Apo Duat is the homeland of this common ancestor, and that they have expanded out to the coastal area.[9] The migration of these people to the low lands and gradual spreading out might have been spurred by various waves of migration of the Lun Bawang people from different clans. The migration of Lun Bawang people from one clan to a region already inhabited by another clan, causes the latter to move to another region, despite them having similar culture and language. The strong clan identity of the Lun Bawang people is shown by their common tradition of identifying themselves based on their village or geographical location, for example, ‘Lun Adang’ who once resides the Adang river basin or ‘Lun Kemaloh’ who comes from the Kemaloh river.

One other theory suggests that that these Apo Duat people were once natives of old Brunei, but were pushed upriver into the highlands by the invading tribes such as KayanKenyah andIban people. The ones that remained downriver (Lun Bawang people) were isolated from the ones who migrated to the highlands (Kelabit), causing their culture and language to slightly diverged.

Another theory, on the other hand, suggests that the migration originated from the opposite side of Borneo (now East Kalimantan). It was suggested that the Apo Duat people were once farmers in the lowlands downstream of Malinau river, living closely with the Tidong people. However, attacks by Muslim raiders (Bugis and Tausug) probably in the 17th century, caused them to migrate to the Kerayan highlands, whilst the Tidong people converted to Islam.[10]

Nevertheless, these theories have yet to be proven and there are no substantial evidence to trace the origin of the Lun Bawang people or to prove any of these theories.


According to Brunei oral tradition, the Lun Bawangs (Murut) were brought under the rule of the Brunei kingdom by peaceful measures during the reign of Awang Alak Betatar. This is said to be accomplished through dealings between the Lun Bawang and Awang Alak Betatar’s brother, Awang Jerambok.[11] Under the rule of the Brunei kingdom, the Lun Bawang were subject to taxes and tribute. The local leaders from the higher class (lun mebala or lun do’) were appointed titles of nobility and were granted office in the sultanate. Some Lun Bawang were assimilated into Malay culture.[12]

Nevertheless, the peace dealing between the Lun Bawang and the Brunei Malay rulers was by no means everlasting as throughout the history of Brunei sultanate, the Lun Bawang had often rebelled against its Brunei ruler. It has been suggested that the insurrection of the Maruts (sic) – i.e. the Lun Bawangs – and Chinese had led to the Brunei Sultan requesting assistance from the Sulu sultanate to suppress the rebellion in 1658, which resulted in the Brunei Sultan ceding his territory of Kimanis until Tapean Durian to the Sultan of Sulu as a sign of gratitude.[13]

Early Europeans uses the exonym MarootMarutMorut or Murut to describe the Lun Bawang people, and this might have been introduced by the Brunei Malays who came in contact with them in Brunei. The earliest European written account of the Lun Bawang people is probably by Thomas Forrest during his voyage to New Guinea, the Mollucas and Balambangan in 1776. He described that the Borneans (sic – i.e. Bruneians -) tended to preclude the Chinese or European from directly dealing with the Maroot in trade, reserving the trade (as middlemen) to themselves.[14] In John Hunt’s Sketch of Borneo or Pulo Kalamantan in 1812, he described the Lun Bawangs as aborigines of Borneo proper, and that they are much fairer and better featured than the Malays, having more strong and robust frame and are credited as a brave race of people.[15] Europeans have also obtained the description of the Lun Bawang from Brunei Malays who came in contact with them. For example, during the voyage of American Himmaleh to Brunei, Brunei noblemen (pangeran) reported that there are 21 tribes in Brunei – Murut being one of them – and that these tribes are kafir (do not practice Islam) and practices headhunting.[16] During Henry Keppel‘s expedition to Borneo, he noted that the Lun Bawang are inhabitant of Borneo interior, and that the Murut and Dyak people had given place to Kayan people whenever they are in contact with each other.[17] Sir James Brooke in his journal written on December 24, 1850, described the oppression that the Lun Bawang (then called Limbang Muruts) people faced by Brunei aristocrats, and where some had fought against this tyranny.[18]

A more elaborate European account of the Lun Bawang people is by Spenser St. John in 1860, where he described the impoverished condition of the Lun Bawang (then called Limbang Muruts) people under the rule of the Brunei Sultanate. He also gave account of the aborigines (Murut and Bisaya) rise to insurrection, however these rebellions were always suppressed by threat by the Brunei government to bring in Kayans to subdue the opposition.[19][20] Spenser St.John also described the tyranny conducted by the Brunei aristocrats upon the Limbang Muruts, which include seizing their children to be sold as slaves if taxes were not paid, and on one occasion, when the Brunei capital were in a state of alarm by the marauding Kayan warriors, the Brunei aristocrat offered a whole Limbang Murut village to be pillaged, in return for the safety of the capital.[20]

Culture and Economical Activities

Almost all of the traditional economical activities of the Lun Bawang and Lundayeh are related to rice plantation, and they cultivate both rice on hill called lati’ tana’ luun and rice from paddy field called lati’ ba.[21][22] The production of rice is related to ones’ prestige/financial status, as excess of rice harvest are traditionally consumed in huge irau feast, signifying wealth and fortune. Cooked rice is wrapped inside banana leaves called Luba’ Laya, and rice is also brewed into rice wine or burak for practical reasons. Partly due to this, drinking burak had been an important (and also notorious, as is deemed by the Christian missionaries and the Brooke government) custom of the Lun Bawangs and Lundayehs, but now the rice wine production has significantly dwindled due to effort done by the Christian missionaries and Brooke government to encourage prohibition of alcohol amongst the community in the early 20th century.

Meat and fish are brined or pickled using salt and is stored in hollow bamboo stalk for a duration of a month and the pickled food is called telu’ . Meat and fish are also preserved by smoking. Salt is obtained by evaporating brine from salt spring (lubang mein).

Cattles and buffaloes are bred for their meat, and can serve as a symbol of financial status. These animals are commonly used as dowry that are presented to the bride’s family from the groom’s side.

In the old days, the men wear jackets made of tree barks called kuyu talun. Cloth wrapped around the forehead is called sigar and loin cloth is called abpar. A long machete (pelepet) is tied to the waist, especially when it needs to be carried to tribal wars. As for the women, they wear pata on their head, beret on their waist, bane around the neck and gileng or pakel is worn as ornaments on their hands and wrists.

The Lun Bawang and Lundayeh belong to a group termed as Nulang Arc group (Metcalf 1975). These ethnic (along with other ethnics such as the Berawans, the Melanaus and the Kajangs) traditionally practiced an ancient tradition of secondary treatment of the dead. In Lun Bawang, this is called mitang butung. Metcalf theorised that this practice is a characteristic of the most ancient cultural tradition in Borneo, before the arrival of other invading ethnics that influenced the diversification of culture and language in Borneo.[23]


Main article: Lun Bawang language

The Lun Bawangs called their language Buri Lun Bawang or Buri tau, ”our language” .

Festivals and Celebration

Lun Bawang people celebrates Irau Aco Lun Bawang (Lun Bawang festival) annually on the first of June in LawasSarawak. This festival is traditionally a celebration of the rice harvest, but now it showcases a variety of Lun Bawang culture and events such as Ruran Ulung (beauty pageant contest) and ngiup suling (bamboo musical instrument band).


Lun Bawangs were mostly animist before the 1920s. Under the rule of the White Rajahs (Vyner Brooke) in Sarawak, Christian missionaries especially of the Borneo Evangelical Missiondenomination had more access to the Lun Bawang highlands and they also preached Christianity to the Lun Bawang people.[24]

The majority of the Lun Bawangs are Christians, predominantly of the Borneo Evangelical Mission denomination. A small number are of other Christian denominations, such as True Jesus Church, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the Roman Catholic Church, or of another religion, such as Islam and Buddhism.

Lun Bawang language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Lun Bawang
Lundayeh, Lundaye, Brunei Murut, Southern Murut, Murut
Spoken in Malaysia
Region Sarawak
Native speakers first language: 300 in Brunei (1987 Langub), 12,800 including 10,000 in Lun Bawang dialect in Sarawak (1987), 2,800 in Lun Daye in Sabah (1982 SIL).

second language:

Language family
Language codes
ISO 639-3 lnd
This page contains IPA phonetic symbols inUnicode. Without rendering support you may see irregular vowel positioning and a lack of conjuncts.More…

The language spoken by the Lun Bawangs (or Lundayeh) belongs to the Malayo-Polynesian branch, with the classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, Northwest, North Sarawakan, Dayic, Apo Duat. The first published material written fully in the Lun Bawang language is a translation of the Bible in 1982, which is called Bala Luk Do.[1] A dialect of the Lun Bawang language, Kemaloh Lundayeh, was recently (2006) compiled into a bilingual dictionary of Lundayeh language and English.[2]


There are 6 vowels, 18 consonants and 5 diphthongs in the Lun Bawang language.[3]

Table of consonant phonemes of Lun Bawang
Bilabial Dental Alveolar Post-
Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m /m/ n /n/ ng /ŋ/
Plosive p /p/ b /b/ t /t̪/ d /d̪/ k /k/ g /ɡ/ /ʔ/
Affricate c /tʃ/
Fricative s /s/ /ɣ/ h /h/
Approximant l /l/ r /r/ y /j/ w /w/
Table of vowel phonemes of Lun Bawang
Height Front Central Back
Close i /i/ u /u/
Mid e /e, ɛ/ e /ə/ o /o, ɔ/
Open a /a/
Table diphthongs of Lun Bawang
Orthography IPA
ai /aɪ̯, ai/
au /aʊ̯, au/
ia /ia/
ou /ow/
uioi /ɔʏ/

Collection of words in English and translation inIda’anBisaya and Adang Murut (Lun Bawang) in 1860 by Spencer St.John.


  1. ^ Peter Martin, ed. (2008), Educational Discourses and Literacy in Brunei Darussalam11(2), University of East London, London, UK: The International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, pp. 210, ISBN 1367-0050/08/02 206-20, retrieved 2010-09-25
  2. ^ Ricky Ganang, Jay Crain and Vicki Pearson-Rounds, ed. (2006), Kemaloh Lundayeh – English Dictionary, Sacramento, USA: CSU Sacramento, retrieved 2010-09-25
  3. ^ Pelita Brunei – Sastera dan Budaya


  1. a b c Ethnologue report for language code:lnd
  2. ^ Constitution of Malaysia, ed., Article 162 (7), retrieved 2010-09-25
  3. ^ Laws of Brunei, Chapter 15: Brunei Nationality Act, ed. (2010-09-25), 4(2), pp. 4
  4. ^ Daniel Chew, ed. (2004), Borders of kinship and ethnicity: cross-border relations between the Kelalan Valley, Sarawak, and the Bawan Valley, East Kalimantan, retrieved 2008-04-10
  5. a b Meechang Tuei, ed. (1995), Masyarakat Lun Bawang Sarawak: Satu Pengenalan, Kuching, Sarawak: Desktop Publisher Sdn. Bhd., pp. 3–5, ISBN 983-62-4321-6, retrieved 2008-04-10
  6. ^ Pelita Brunei – Sastera dan Budaya
  7. ^ Appel, G.M., ed. (September 1969), The Status of Research among the Northern and Southern Muruts1, Maine, USA: Association for Asian Studies at Brandeis University, pp. 18–21, retrieved 2008-04-10
  8. ^ Abdul Hakim Bujang, ed. (7 May 2002), Interpretation (Amendment) Bill: ‘Sea Dayaks’, ‘Land Dayaks’ will be dropped while Lun Bawang will no longer be classified as ‘Muruts’, Sarawak: Sarawak Tribune, retrieved 2008-04-10
  9. ^ Reed L. Wadley, ed. (2005), Histories of the Borneo environment: economic, political and social dimensions of change and continuity, Leiden, The Netherlands: KITLV Press, pp. 253,ISBN 90-6718-254-0, retrieved 2008-04-10
  10. ^ Cristina Eghenter, Bernard Sellato, G. Simon Devung, ed. (2004), Social Science Research and Conservation Management in the Interior of Borneo, Unraveling past and present interactions of people and forest, Indonesia Printer, Indonesia: CIFOR, WWF Indonesia, UNESCO and FORD foundation, pp. 25, ISBN 979-3361-02-6, retrieved 2008-04-10
  11. ^ Charles Hose, William McDougall, ed. (1912), The Pagan Tribes of Borneo, A Description of Their Physical Moral and Intellectual ConditionII, retrieved 2008-06-17
  12. ^ Keat Gin Ooi, ed. (2004), Southeast Asia: A Historical Encyclopedia, from Angkor Wat to East Timor, Santa Barbara, California, USA: ABC-CLIO, pp. 272, ISBN 1-57607-771-3, retrieved 2008-04-02
  13. ^ J Hunt Esq, ed. (1812), Sketch of Borneo or Pulo KalamantanVIII, Bencoolen: Sumatran Mission Press, pp. 10, retrieved 2010-09-26
  14. ^ Captain Thomas Forrest, ed. (1776), A voyage to New Guinea, and the Moluccas, from Balambangan, New Bond Street, London: G Scott, J Robson, pp. 383, retrieved 2010-09-26
  15. ^ J Hunt Esq, ed. (1812), Sketch of Borneo or Pulo KalamantanVIII, Bencoolen: Sumatran Mission Press, pp. 3, retrieved 2010-09-25
  16. ^ J T Dickenson, ed. (1838), “Notices of the City of Borneo and Its Inhabitant, Made During the Voyage of American Brig Himmaleh in the Indian Archipelago, in 1837.” The Chinese RepositoryVIII, originally Canton: Adamant Media (Elibron Classics), pp. 133, ISBN 1-4021-5639-9, retrieved 2010-09-25
  17. ^ Captain The Hon. Henry Keppel, R.N., ed. (1846), The Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido for The Suppression of Piracy with Extracts from The Journal of James Brooke, Esq. of Sarawak,II, Great New Street, Fettler Lane, London: Robson, Level and Franklyn, pp. 171, retrieved 2010-09-25
  18. ^ Captain The Hon. Henry Keppel, R.N., ed. (1853), A Visit to the Indian Archipelago in H.M. Ship Maeander: With Portions of the Private Journal of Sir James Brooke, K.C.B, New Burlington Street, London: swald Walters B. Brierly, R. Bentley, Harvard University, pp. 116, retrieved 2010-09-25
  19. ^ Leigh R Wright, ed. (1977), Brunei: A Historical relic17, Hong Kong: Journal of Hong Kong Branch of the Asiatic Society, pp. 19, retrieved 2008-04-02
  20. a b Spencer St John, ed. (1860), Life in the Forest of the Far EastII, 65 Cornhill London: Smith, Elder and Co, pp. 55, retrieved 2008-04-02
  21. ^ Christine Padoch, ed. (1983), Agricultural Practices of the Kerayan Lun Dayeh15 (1), University of Wisconsin: Borneo Research Bulletin, pp. 33–37, retrieved 2008-09-04
  22. ^ Mika Okushima, ed. (1999), Wet rice cultivation and the Kayanic peoples of East Kalimantan: some possible factors explaining their preference for dry rice cultivation (1).(Research Notes), Borneo Research Bulletin, pp. 33–37, retrieved 2008-09-04
  23. ^ Peter Metcalf, ed. (1975), The Distribution of Secondary Treatment of the Dead in Central North Borneo7(2), Harvard University: Borneo Research Bulletin, pp. 54–59, retrieved 2008-08-27
  24. ^ Jim Huat Tan, ed. (1975), The Borneo Evangelical Mission (BEM) and the Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB), 1928-1979: A Study of the Planting and Development of an Indigenous Church, pp. 24–27, retrieved 2008-09-03
[hide]v · d · eEthnic groups in Malaysia by region
Malay • Chinese • Indian • Banjarese  • Bugis  • Javanese
Peninsular Malaysia
Bidayuh • Bisaya • Bukitan • Iban • Kayan • Kedayan • Kelabit • Kenyah • Lun Bawang • Melanau • Penan • Punan • Selako • Ukit
Bajau • Bisaya • Dusun • Ida’an • Illanun  • Kadazan • Kedayan • Lotud • Murut • Orang Sungai • Rungus • Tambanuo • Tausug/Suluk • Tidong
  1. devrah berkata:

    hello there, may i know more about the lunbawang tradisional music instruments? so far i only know about suling. could you please elaborate more on other traditional music instrument?
    thank you very much!!

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