Penampang Kadazan Traditional Costume
The Penampang Kadazan traditional costume, with gold trimmings (siling ) on black velvet, is simple yet elegant. The sleeveless blouse called sinuangga, worn only by young unmarried ladies, and the full length sarong (tapi ) are carefully designed so that the costume becomes peculiar only to the Penampang district.
Thirty or more gold buttons are sewn in a double row on the sinuangga and are called bamban labuan because in the olden days only the Bajau living on the island of Labuan knew how to make these particular gold buttons.
This costume is worn with the blouse tucked into the sarong. Then several rows of silver coin and brass ring belts must complete the outfit. These belts are collectively called himpogot and are usually antique family heirlooms which a mother hands down to her daughters.
The coin belt (tinggot ) is made from silver dollar coins of the early 20th Century. A single row nowadays will fetch at least M$1,500. For the Kadazan costume, usually three of these belts are worn.
Broken gongs are melted down and turned into small brass rings which are looped through thin strips of rattan to make a belt (tangkong ). Sometimes a kind of sea shell, cut to from a ring called husau, is slipped in with the brass rings. The Kadazan believe that if a sick person were to drink water into which the husau been dipped, that person will be cured.
Like the coin belts, three pieces of tangkong are worn with the costume. Altogether the himpogot can cost more than M$6,000 but for the Kadazan woman it is quite priceless. Gold jewellery such as bangles (gohong ), necklace (hamai ), earrings (simbong ), ring (sinsing ) and brooch (pawn ) are also worn.
While the unmarried Kadazan female wears the sinuangga, the middle-aged ladies wear a short sleeved blouse called sinompukung . The long sleeved kihongon is worn by more senior ladies and the bobohizan or ritual specialist.