Like rice farmers elsewhere, all the native tribes of Sabah pray for a bountiful harvest. Each year in May, after the harvest, they performed a ritual called ‘magavau’ to nurse the spirit of the grain back to health in readiness to plant again for the coming season.


Traditionally, this is done in the padi fields by the ‘bobohizan’, a priestess familiar with the spirits of the pagan native. This ritual is now carried out at the ‘Hongkod Koisaan’ or the Unity Hall.

A tribal embellishment of the Hongkod are the geometric patterns on the roof. Some will be suprised to learn that such native patterns have great similarities with ancient Chinese patterns. Although their meanings differ from village to village, these patterns are well known.

Casual visitors will notice some typically native character of the Hongkod. The arch-entrance resembles a woman with her arms outstretched, dancing the ‘sumazau’. On her head, she wears a conical straw hat, fashionable gear at one time.

The Tagungs are among the most treasured possession as a well tuned and complete set ensured a loud but lively party. The natives attach so much significance to the beating of their gongs, so much so that it was impossible to identify the owner merely by the sound of his gongs.

By no means, their actual sizes, the set of six tagungs set on the external walls of the Hongkod Koisaan are a pleasant reminder of the scale on which music is still made in Sabah. A real life-size gong is kept just outside the hall for comparison.

Of course, the Hongkod is used for the purposes other than the “magavau” or display and sale of native arts and crafts. The Hall is also used for badminton games, receptions and dinners, shows, and for meetings and conferences. Any enquiries to use the Hongkod facilities can be sent to: