Brunei as a multicultural country is known to have many different groups of people living in the country and we know that there are 7 main tribes in Brunei that is part of Bumiputera that is Dusun,Kedayan, Murut, Bisaya, Belait, Tutong and Brunei.

We talked about the way to Kedayan Culture and now we will talk about one of the oldest ethnic groups not only in Brunei but in the whole Borneo which is The Dusun.


While historically the term was used by the Sultan of Brunei to refer to the ethnic groups of inland farmers in present-day Sabah. In the 19 to 20th century, most of North Borneo was controlled by the Sultan of Brunei, taxes called ‘Duis’ or ‘River Tax’ on the area of south east of North Borneo and were collected by the sultanate from the people of Dusun.

‘Dusun’ means ‘orchard’ in the Malay Language. Nowadays Dusun can be found in parts of Sabah where they are called “Kedazan-Dusun” due to their similarity with Kedazan tribe and also in Indonesia with the name “Barito-Dusun” however the Bruneian Dusun has no connection with the Kedazan-Dusun or Barito-Dusun as they are differences in cultures and traditions.

In Brunei, Dusun people started as farmers since the 1800s, where they used lands in Belait and Tutong to grow their crops. Dusun people are called ‘Sang Jati Dusun’ (SJD) with estimating around 10,000 Dusun people living in Brunei.

The Dusun Culture

One of the most prominent traditions that are still celebrated to the present day is the Adau Gayoh festival which is translated from the Dusun language as Hari Besar. The festival itself commemorate the end of Padi (rice) harvesting similar to Kedayan’s Makan Tahun. The event itself consisted of two section: an exhibition displaying old technology and traditional games such as Uwod (Gasing) Yompok, Kalating, Puun and Gaan (Sugang). The second part of the event showcased several traditional dance performances such as Ancayau, Mengalai, Pat Dudui and Bagimba.

The traditional clothing of the Sang Jati Dusun is filled with the colours of Black, Red and White, this is said to be in the old days, other colours were not available for the dusun people to use.

In terms of weddings, the culture of Dusun is rather similar when compare to the Brunei Malay. There is Jarum-Jarum or Merisik which loosely translated to inquire. When a guy wants to ask a girl to marry him, the guy will send his representative to ask the parents of girl permission to marry him. This could be the parents of the guy or close family members. If the family accepts, the girl family can ask for money as dowry or items such as a gongs or animals such as a cow.

During the wedding itself, one of the main food that must be presented is the Penyaram which is the traditional snack for Dusun culture.

Dusun Traditional Dance

During the Adau Gayoh Festival there would a showcase of traditional dance and music of the Dusun people. One of the most well-known dances is the Tamarok dance.

Tamarok Dance is performed by female dancers and is done after the rice harvesting season.This dance serve as a thankful gesture and hopes that their rice next year will increase and fertile. During the dance traditional musical instruments are played is the dombak (goblet drum), canang (small gong), gulingtangan, gandang and gong. Nowadays the dance is performed during dusun cultural events, so the public can catch a glimpse of the performance.

There are other traditional dances that relates to Sang Jati Dusun such as Ancayau which is dance performed for fun occasion which includes the traditional shield called Khalid and accompanied by the music of Gandang Ibang-Ibang.

Dusun Language.

Like other ethnic groups, SJD have their own language that are still practiced today. Similar to the English language, they have their own grammar and vocabulary. Below are some of the examples:

Dusun Language

English Language

   Salamat sambut

Good Morning

    Uno barito mu?

How are you?

      Terimo kasi

Thank you





Sang Jati Dusun is one of the oldest ethnic groups in Brunei, people who wants to learn more about them can go to the areas of Tutong such as in Lamunin to talk with the people there and learn more about their culture or join their annual festivals that is open to public to attend.

More information about Sang Jati Dusun can be found on their Facebook Page