About the Kadazan-Dusun
Kadazan-Dusun, often written Kadazandusun is a main group of the people of Sabah. It comprises the Kadazan and the Dusun, both of which share much similarities. The small differences between the Kadazan and the Dusun is that the Kadazan people live mainly in the towns whereas the Dusun are more likely found in the rural area.
Kadazan and Dusun share the same language and culture. There are also some suggestions that the entire groups should be regarded as the Dusun, not Kadazan-Dusun, and that the Kadazan should be a subset of the Dusun, not the other way around.
Within the Kadazan-Dusun are the following subgroups:
The traditional costume of the Kadazan-Dusun womenfolk comprises a black velvet long-sleeve blouse called siya and a black velvet knee-length skirt called gonob.
The siya is embroidered with gold lace and sequins are stitched along the cuffs and neckline. At the front are eight pairs of gold buttons called kubamban and an equal number of buttons is stitiched to the sleeves. A white undergarment is worn over the siya and three brooches are pinned vertically to the front. Some may also wear antique gold coin brooches called korusang.
The gonob is decorated with hand-stitiched panel called rinangkit. In addition, accessories such as silver-coin bangles and silver-coin belts are worn. The belts provide an indication whether the woman is single, married, or widowed.
Kadazan or Dusun?
There has been some confusion about the use of "Dusun" when the name, Kadazan, was introduced as the new identity of the Dusun people in the early 1960s. At one time there was a serious dispute between those who want the group to be called "Kadazans" (saying that "Dusun" was deragotary), and those who want to continue with the original "Dusun". The pro-Dusuns argued that "Kadazan" originates from the word "Kakadazan" (a place of many shops--"Kadai" is "shop" in Kadazan), thus "Kadazan" can also be said to originate from Malay! Those Dusuns in the Penampang and Papar district now prefer to be called Kadazans.
The name "Kadazandusun" was adopted by KDCA and USDA as a compromise between those who prefer Dusun and those who prefer Kadazan. In later years, the name "Kadazandusun-Murut", or KDM (the plural forms are "Khadazandusun-Muruts", or KDMs) began to appear in public use. This is a political tag meant to unite the Kadazan-Dusun and Murut ethnic groups in Sabah.
They KDMs were for the most part animists, but most have become Christians, and a smaller percentage, Muslim. The vast majority of Kadazandusuns live in the hills and upland valleys and have a reputation for peacefulness, hospitality, hard work, frugality, drinking, and are averse to violence, although in the recent past they did indulge in headhunting as part of their tribal wars. Now they have very much been modernised and absorbed into the larger framework of the Malaysian society, taking up various occupations as government servants, and employees in the private sector, as well as becoming business owners. Many have achieved tertiary education both locally and overseas (in America, England, Australia and New Zealand).
In their old traditional setting they use various methods of fishing, including using the juice of the roots of a plant they call "tuba" to poison fish in rivers.
Kadazandusuns are known as the Latin artists of the East, being famous in the state for love and passion for music. Their traditional dances appear attractive and gentle full of passion for life, making the Kadazandusun culture a popular and beautiful one, and much sought by tourists to Sabah.
Even though Kadazandusuns are known for their peaceful nature, they are also well known for their bravery and defiant nature towards oppression and foreign rule. Monsopiad the legendary warrior of the Penampang district who lived in the 1700s to 1800s took 48 heads in the heat of battle before being overwhelmed. Warriors in the Marudu district (the most fearsome being Kulindod), and in Tuaran fought off attacks of enemies--Irranuns in Marudu, and Bruneians and Irranuns in Tuaran.
The Kadazandusuns' biggest problem now is the fact that their percentage within the enlarged population of Sabah (now 3 million) has been seriously reduced, and the fact that they have actually become a minority.