Monday, February 9, 2009

The Coastal dweller

These coastal dweller (Bajau, Iranun, Idaan, Bisaya, Suluk, Obian, Binadan, Sama) are skilled fishmen as well as good rice cultivators. They are also experts in rearing ponies and water buffaloes. At the North Western of the states - Kota Belud these coastal dweller, mostly are Bajau dubbed as "The Cowboys of the East", for their renowned horsemanship.

They also are largest ethnic group in Sabah (second only to the Kadazan Dusun), making up approximately 14% of the total population of the state. For most of their history, they've been a nomadic, seafaring people, living off the produce of the sea, whether for trade or subsistence.

Their settlement is kept close to shore by erecting houses on stilts, and got around with the lepa-lepa, a handmade boat. As expert at rearing water-buffaloes they have very good "Business Trade" with the valleys people whose trade are of cultivating sawah or rice paddy field which is more easier with big good buffalo.

For most of Sabah’s indigenous groups, the water-buffalo is a truly valuable animal. It forms a major part of a bride wealth and the more special a maiden is, the more buffaloes she is likely to fetch. (The Kadazans groom normally bring buffaloes that match the amount of the bride house pillars) Today, a buffalo can fetch no less than MYR 1,000. approximately US 350.

These coastal dweller, though culturally & linguistically different are unified through their religion. Which except for a tiny fraction, they are by and large a Muslims, practicing the Sunni Islam and it Holy Qoran.

Yearbook of Statistics, Sabah 2008, Department of Statistics Malaysia

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