The Lunbawangs and Lundayehs of Borneo

The Lundayeh ethnic group in Sabah predominantly lives in Sipitang district, numbered about 10,000 (rough estimate).

They were one of the groups considered by the Bruneians as Orang Darat* (ethnic that lives on the upper land or hinter land)

They were originally from North Western part of Kalimantan, Indonesia.

Since Sipitang district shares common border with Kalimantan (not far from Long Pasia), thus it’s quite natural for this group of people to cross the border in an unorganized fashion.

They were rightly recognized as hill people rather than sea. Farming and agriculture are quite natural profession for them as fishing to coastal people

The very same people found in Fifth Division of Sarawak, but this group is known as Lunbawang instead.

There’s not much difference between these two groups. The grandson probably is eating soto in Sipitang while the grand dad is sipping ‘teh tarik’ in Lawas overlooking Lawas River. In other words, they were of the same root.

The only dividing line between them is religion. Most modern Lundayeh are practicing Christians of Sidang Injil Borneo, which is found only in Borneo, but like any other ethnics they are Lundayeh Muslims too.

The newer immigrants came directly from Kalimanatan as early as 1970s and many were born in Kalimantan but have dual citizenship (Malaysia and Indonesia).

Among the important institutions which are still practiced to date by Lundayeh/Lundbawang together with other ethnics in Sipitang is Tamu Besar. It’s the occasion when people converged without borders regardless their ethnics or religions.