Gongs are one of the most important idiophones in Sabah and are considered the backbone of traditional musical instruments. It has been featured in many traditional ceremonies and festivals of major ethnic groups, particularly among the Kadazandusun, Bajau, and Rungus.

There are a few types of gongs, but the main 3 groups are tawak, chanang, and togun – and each one produces a distinct tone. A whole set of gongs are usually needed to play a tune alongside other instruments such as drums to accentuate the main rhythms. An average of seven gongs are used in a set but the number of gongs played depends on the ethnic group or the districts.

In the olden days before cell phones even existed, villagers would use gongs as a way of communication with other villagers. A slow rhythm would be an invitation to have a drink whereas, a fast rhythm means danger.

Images by Amazing Borneo