A legend of how the Timugon Murut people came into existence

Patricia Hului
The Timugon Murut is one of the 29 ethnic groups of Murut people.

Overall, the Murut people can be found mainly in Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia as well as in Brunei and Kalimantan, Indonesia.

As for Timugon Murut, they mainly live in Sabah. Each of the ethnic group of Murut people including Timugon Murut has its own distinct language, custom and even folklore.

Here is a tale on how the Timugon people was created as recorded by researcher Kielo A. Brewis in the paper The Death of a Timugon Murut (1987):

There was a great flood which saw everyone drown, except one young man, who climbed up a very tall coconut tree.

After the waters began to recede, he went down to look for survivors.

An angel from heaven (masundu) came to tell him that there were no other survivors and gave him a proposal instead – that they should marry.

The angel wasn’t anything like the shiny Western concept of an angel, but came in the form of a woman who was afflicted with a skin condition, similar to that of ringworm.

Even though he was the only person left on the planet, the young man did not want to marry her.

Instead he went off to find prettier girls, holding on to the hope that there were survivors besides himself.

In the meantime, the angel did not handle the rejection well.

In his absence, the angel made a clay figure that looked much like herself, except the figure did not have the markings of ringworm.

Then she made the figure into a living being by spitting red betel nut juice from her mouth onto it.

When the young man returned empty-handed and saw the beautiful girl who had been made from clay, he wanted to marry her.

Their descendant became the ancestors of the Timugon Murut.

The man marries the woman who was made from clay. Credit: Pixabay.