Sumazau is one of the most iconic dances that originated from the Kadazandusun people, the largest indigenous group of Sabah. Sumazau literally means “dancing” in the Kadazan language. It can be called Sumayau, Mongigol and Maragang in other Kadazandusun tribes.

This dance is mainly performed during the Tadau Harvest Festival which is celebrated in Sabah every May. It features slow and gentle movements including the rhythmic swaying of arms as if artfully imitating birds in flight.

Traditionally, it was a sacred dance performed as part of religious ceremonies accompanied by the sompogogungan, six hanging gongs, and a drum in a standard setting. The dance is performed to welcome “Bambaazon” (rice spirit), cleanse and cure illness, celebrate the return from head-hunting, and appease the house spirit guardian (miontong) so things get back to normal.

Image by Borneo Tropical Adventures