Sumazau dance is a popular ethnic dance from Sabah. This traditional dance has always been correlated to the tribe of Kadazandusun, a tribe that populates and settles in Sabah. The locals from the district of Penampang are substantially well-versed in this type of dance. Being the most famous dance in Sabah, it has also become the “ symbol” of Sabah. Hence, it can be meditated as the state dance of Sabah.
Additionally, Sumazau dance is oftem performed as a thanksgiving to the God and the spirits for the ample and generous harvest during the Harvest Festival, or commonly known as Pesta Ka’amatan in the state of Sabah which is celebrated every May of the year. It is also performed as a thanksgiving for activities related with the rejection of the army, the spirit of worship and to cure diseases.
Apart from that, although its main purpose is to welcome the rice spirit, “ Bambaazon”, it can be usually seen to be performed in social gatherings, wedding celebrations, entertainment occasions, welcome dignitaries and other important functions other than festive occasions. Therefore, most of the people would agree with the fact that a Sabah cultural show is considered imperfect without the performance of this well-known dance. As a description for this popular dance, it is performed by peasants comprises of both men and women.
It has the distinguished characteristics of a slow rhythmic movements of the heels’ of the dancers while their arm gestures float gracefully at about the shoulder level with a slight bending of their elbow and wrist which are similar to that of a bird soaring up to the sky. Alternatively, their arms are swung softly like a pendulum and parallel to the sides of their body. Besides that, this dance is further accompanied with a gong ensemble. These gongs which are made up of six pieces of different sizes are played to delivers the music.
In addition, the costumes of Sumazau dance are genuinely Kadazan and are normally black in colour. These simple looking yet elegant costumes are made from materials of velvet type enhanced and adorned with suitable accessories. For the male dancers, they wear an embroidered headgear named siga, a long-sleeved top named gaung and a pair of black trousers which is known as souva together along an extensive vibrant waistband. Furthermore, a grass-like stuff which is comprises of palm leaves is wore by the men by tying it on a rope and strung over their shoulder.
It is said that this bouquet of dried hisad palm leaves are able to chase away the evil spirit. On the other hand, the female dancers wear a sleeveless blouse named sinuangga along a full-length sarong named tapi (which indicates that she is still single). Then, this costume is complete with a number of rows of silver coin belts which is known as himpogot and up to three weighty belts comprises of individual brass rings which is known as tangkong.
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