The Lundayeh people, also known as Lun Bawang, are the earliest and smallest ethnic groups in Sabah. They can be found in the southwest region bordering Sarawak.
Lundayeh means upriver people or people of the interior. They were known to be hunters and fishermen as well as practiced animal husbandry such as rearing poultry, pigs, and buffaloes but their main economic activities were related to rice plantation.
They cultivated both rice on a hill called lati’ tana’ luun and rice from a paddy field called lati’ ba. The production of rice is related to ones’ prestige/financial status, the excess of rice harvest is traditionally consumed in huge irau feast, signifying wealth and fortune. Cooked rice is wrapped inside banana leaves called Luba’ Laya, and rice is also brewed into rice wine or burak. This drinking of burak had been an important custom of the Lun Bawangs in the past.
They numbered around 20,000 but sadly a smallpox outbreak in the early 1900s wiped out almost 90% of their population
Image by Malaysia Travel