When in Sabah, immerse yourself in Monsopiad Cultural Village's rich history

IN the heart of Sabah, along the scenic Moyog River, a living testament to the rich Kadazan heritage unfolds – welcome to the Monsopiad Cultural Village. Steeped in the legends of a great warrior, Monsopiad, this village offers a captivating glimpse into the ancient Kadazan culture that has withstood the test of time.

At the heart of the village lies the Tangkob, or Grainery, where the essence of Kadazan life is stored in the form of padi. As visitors traverse the village, they encounter Kotos Di Monsopiad, dedicated to the life and times of Monsopiad and his descendants.

The exhibit boasts a treasure trove of artefacts, from ceramic jars to padi grinders, offering a visual journey into the past. One highlight is the costume of Bobohizan Inai Bianti, a direct descendant of Monsopiad and a revered high priestess.

The village's centrepiece is the Siou Do Mohoing, or the House of Skulls, where the 42 'trophies' of Monsopiad dangle from the rafters. This eerie yet intriguing space reflects the history of a warrior who, over 300 years ago, safeguarded his village by claiming the heads of 42 adversaries.

The Monsopiad Cultural Village stands not just as a tribute but as a vibrant showcase of Kadazan culture, a significant part of the larger Kadazandusun community, Sabah's largest ethnic group.

Built with traditional materials like jungle logs, palm leaves, and bamboo, the village offers an authentic experience from the moment visitors are welcomed with tapai, a traditional rice wine.

As visitors explore, the rhythmic pounding of rice in a wooden mortar by Kadazan villagers echoes through the air. It's not just a demonstration; you're invited to try your hand at pounding rice, a task requiring strength and skill. The village encapsulates the daily activities of a Kadazan community, where traditional black attire is adorned by everyone.

One major attraction is the replica of Monsopiad's house, perched on its original site and raised off the ground. The village showcases the diverse skills of Kadazans, from brewing rice wine to crafting bamboo fish traps, machetes, gongs, and blowpipes. The women engage in intricate tasks like weaving, embroidery, beadwork, and crafting traditional items like 'sirung' (conical hat) and 'tadang' (carrier basket).

The House of Skulls unveils the skulls of Monsopiad's defeated foes, alongside items used by the Bobohizans, the revered high priestesses in Kadazan society. A Kadazan guide weaves captivating narratives, making the presence of Monsopiad palpable. The journey concludes with a trek up the hill to witness the grave of this mighty warrior.

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