Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Dusun (Sabah, Malaysia) and Bunun (Taiwan) connection?

Salaam readers,

I have written about the similarities that exist between the Malay and Dusun ethnic. You may refer to the previous entry HERE. Do you have any suggestions on that matter? This time we will see the similarities that may exist between the Dusun and the Bunun ethnic (Taiwan). I got the information from THIS resource and thought of sharing it with you.

Check this out.

Years ago, I heard talks about how KadazanDusun’s culture and rituals are quite similar to that of a tribe in Taiwan. It suggested a possible common ancestry. I thought nothing more of it but today, perhaps I got too much free time on hand, I revisited that theory. Surfed the net, read articles, read forums. 

From herein, I will refer KadazanDusun as Dusun because the former is long and I’m too lazy to type long names. In anycase, KadazanDusun is a recent coinage, a marriage of the tribe name of Kadazan and Dusun by our leaders for unification purposes. I’m not here to discuss kadazanDusun, if you want to know more about the background of the name, I suggest you visit Kadazan Dusun Cultural Association’s website.

The following is an excerpt from

The Kadazan language is an amalgation of various influences, mainly coming from other indigenous tribes in North Borneo and the adoption of various Malay words. According to legend, the Kadazan language has its roots in the migration of a band of seafaring Chinese from Southern China. Anecdotes describe a provincial Chinese tribe whose language differs greatly with the common Chinese dialects but bears striking similarities to the Kadazan language; a tribe whom purportedly bear a physical resemblance to Kadazans as well. However, no research or concrete evidence has risen to support these claims although it is supported by authoritative figures in the Kadazan community.

I do not know where the author got his legend from, personally having blood line to the Dusun Tatana of Kuala Penyu, I certainly haven’t heard of this legend. However, it is noteworthy to know that within the Dusun tribe itself, there are many more sub-divisions(if that is the correct term to use) of Dusuns. We have Dusun Papar, Dusun Tambunan etc. The local legends may vary albeit not significant. The author could have gotten his source from these other Dusun clans. Or perhaps, the Dusun Tatana has forgotten about this legend. Our history and legends are passed down orally. So this one could have slipped down the cracks of time. Or perhaps, I need to mix with more old folks, cast my net wider.  

In any case, what the author wrote which I have conveniently highlighted in red for you, certainly perpetuated the myth about the connection between Dusun and that particular tribe in Taiwan which from what I have gathered, seems to point to the Bunun tribe in Taiwan.

I don’t see any concrete evidence to support that the Dusun has any link to the Bunun. 

Nonetheless, for amusement, I shall highlight little similarities:

1 ) Nunuk Ragang, is a Dusun word for Bayan Tree. Ragang comes from the word Aragang which means red. Dusun legend has it that they came from a place called Nunuk Ragang. If you want to know more about the Nunuk Ragang, just googled it. But why I bring this up? 

The Dusun lived on this giant tree and this tree nourishes them. It was believed that the roots of the Nunuk tree produce red latex that gave the pool not only reddish coloration but also its medicinal value. Thus the name Nunuk Ragang. Nunuk latex is still used to treat rashes and other minor skin diseases.
Now, the Bunun were referred to as the “Red Head Tribe” by the Qing Dynasty. Notice the affinity to the colour red? Hehehe..

2 ) The name “Bulun” means “people”. Early Dusuns before they started calling themselves Dusuns, simply referred to themselves as “Tulun” which means “people”. 

3) In 1979, S.G Tan of the Department of Biology, Faculty of Science and Environmental Studies of University Pertanian Malaysia published his findings titled Genetic Relationship between Kadazans and Fifteen other Southeast Asian Races. Summary of his findings is as follow: 

Genetic distance analysis based on five polymorphic biochemical genetic markers was done to determine the genetic distance between Kadazans and fifteen other races living in Southeast Asia. Kadazans were found to be closer to Iban, Paiwan, Visayan, Ifugao, Atyal, Aboriginal Malays, Land Dayak, Tagalog and Southern Chinese than they are to Bataks, Senoi, Bunun,Malays, Aetas and Southern Indians. Gene frequency comparisons for several new biochemical genetic markers such as soluble glutamate pyruvate transaminase, glyoxalase I and esterase D were made between Kadazans and those few Southeast Asian races which had been analysed for these new markers. In case of those markers in which no data is available for other Southeast Asian races, the Kadazan gene frequencies were compared to those of races found elsewhere in the world. Take note of the 2 races that I have highlighted in blue. I assume Atyal here is the Atayal tribe of Taiwan. They are sometimes referred to as Atyal. Unfortunately, S.G Tan did not include Bunun tribe as test subject. Hence, cursing us to forever guessing our links,unless someone starts researching on this subject again :). 

4 ) Dusun and Bunun are both listed in the family of Austronesian language family.

5) Dusun and Bunun both have history of a period they practice Head Hunting.
Guess who’s who?
taiwan_Colorfully dressed aboriginal women from the Bunun tribe of Nantou in central Taiwan pose in their festival finery. 
A & D – Dusun
B,C & E - Bunun

Anyhow, I do not think our similarities are a big deal. After all, it is plausible. Throughout the millennium, our ancestors could have migrated to Borneo from Taiwan vice versa. Or Bulun and Dusun could just be descendants of a tribe that migrated from the Philippines to Borneo and Taiwan. Who knows?! Someone should really do a research on this. 

Sincerely yours.

1 comment:

suaramirza said...

Saya rasa ini bahan rujukan yang bagus pula >>