March 21, 2011

Things you didn't know were found in Sabah

Brian and I went to Kota Kinabalu on 10 March 2011 to visit a friend's chili farm. On the way back to Beaufort, I made sure that we stop to check some cemeteries found along Jalan Putatan. If you ever travel past Putatan towards Papar, after the traffic lights at 1Mall, Putatan, you will drive past 2 bridges, after the second bridge, slow down and keep a lookout for a place where they sell Muslim tombstones on the left side of the road, the cemeteries of interest are located nearby. According to Google map, it is 1.6 KM from the traffic lights I mentioned.

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I drove by the site many times but failed to notice anything unusual about it until one day, when I fleetingly noticed the word 'Almarhum' on a sign next to one of the cemeteries. I was driving by, so I didn't get to read the rest of what was written on the sign. Question marks popped above my heads because of the word. As far as I know, 'Almarhum' normally refers to someone of royalty. I may be wrong but 'Almarhum' is an arabic word which is used to refer to a deceased, just like how we refer to a deceased as The Late Mr John Doe in english. 

I also caught a glimpse of the grave, it was painted in yellow! Interesting!, I thought. 

So before heading out to Kota Kinabalu that day, I grabbed my Canon digital camera and made a mental note not to forget stopping at the location to check it out. 

So we stopped there but when I took out my camera and flick the on button, this greeted me on the viewfinder, INSERT SD CARD??!! "What the hell?! Really smart! You're an idiot!", I was cussing myself in my head. Luckily for me, besides being able to surf the net, Brian's Ipod could take picture too but not in high quality. However, it did the job.



The words are in Malay and because the low quality of the photo which renders it grainy, I can only make out some of the words. I'll try to translate what it says to the best of my ability. Basically it just says that this is the Royal tomb of the domain known as Tanah Tulen Dumpil Meruntum in the state of Sabah. Almarhum Pangeran Anak Untong is interred here. It also indicated that Almarhum Pangeran Anak Untong was a progeny of a Sultan. He was the ruler of that domain from 1734 to 1750 (Note: 1750 could be wrong because the picture is grainy. It looked like either 1750 or 1790 but I guessed the former because it looked more like it). I'm not sure what 'DIPUTERAKAN' actually means but it could mean that he was born in Brunei in 1710.  

This is another royal tomb but I can only make out the words PENGERAN KERMARAJA. 

I wonder whether Bruneians driving past this way on their way to Kota Kinabalu ever noticed these tombs? I'm a local and I didn't even notice them until now. 

I googled the names and came across this interesting blog which tells weird and strange stories associated with these tombs. Unfortunately they are in Malay but you can try using Google language tools to translate them. Click here.

After snapping the pictures, we went on our merry way.

As we climb (my car did the climbing actually) a hill in Kinarut, I decided to make a second stop. I wanted to find out once and for all what this Kinarut Mansion is all about and I'm glad I did.

What I found out is nothing short of a magical past!

It says;

The Kinarut Mansion, Sabah
The Kinarut Mansion (Rumah Besar Kinarut) is covering some 7.09 hectares, the mansion and its surroundings were designated a heritage site in 1993 for conservation. The mansion was declared a historical building in 1993 under the Land Ordinance. It was officially opened to the public in 1995. SAFODA discovered the ruins of the old mansion in 1990. Its history was later recorded and it appeared that the area was involved in pioneering large scale commercial farming and developing the early Sabah economy. Enterprising foreigners participated in this grand effort.
Apparently, this mansion was the resident of one Mr W.F.C Asimont, the first manager of Kinarut Rubber Estate. I heard that someone came out and claimed to have stayed at the mansion as a child and he recalled that you could see the sea from the mansion which is not the case today. It must have been a grand and beautiful mansion.

While the area has been declared a heritage site for conservation. It is unfortunate that I don't see anything is done to that effect! I see bricks lying on the ground and I imagine many unscrupulous people would have taken some home as souvenirs or even building materials. The bricks are still in good condition! They don't make bricks like that these days. The surface is smooth and they are hard!

The stairs are in tip top condition! Very durable building materials they have

These are the bricks strewn all over. Many are in good condition.

There was this one area that we forgot to take picture of and it was the most beautiful of the whole ruin. Perhaps I will visit this place again and take more pictures with my Canon digital camera. The area was covered by tree canopies. The ground was clear of vegetation and it has this magical feel to it. It reminded me of a scene in Tim Burton's Sleep Hallow. My humble opinion, Sabah Museum could generate income which would help them fund the upkeep and actually do some conservation on the area by renting out the site for corporate events! It's perfect for gala events ect. 

Some better images of the ruins can be found here:


Tina said...

In the old days when parts of Sabah were Brunei-owned (as was the whole of Sarawak) many river valleys up to Tampasuk in the north were 'tulins' (or tulen) The Sultan of Brunei appointed men (usually from the royal court) to head a tulin and be responsible for tax collection which was in the form of rice.
FYI, the government of Brunei made copper rice 'gantangs' specially to expedite the collection of this tax from the common people. I have one such gantang in my collection... probably from one of our ancestors.

You can learn more about tulins and their rulers in "Pirate Wind" by Rutter. (I blogged about the book.)

Thanks for showing the location of the grave. I always thought it was somewhere near the sea... at Kg. Contoh.

Yes, it's true you could see the sea even from the road fronting the Kinarut Mansion. How come it disappeared?

Great blog, Justin!

Justin said...

Hello aunty Tina,

Visited your blog, saw Sheila as one of your followers. I connected the dots :D. How did you find my blog?

Thanks for sharing. I will certainly look out for that book. Planning to visit the State Museum one of these days for research also. Since coming back to Sabah and finding out that my maternal great great grandfather was a Chinese named Koh Thai Hock, I've been very interested in our family and North Borneo's heritage.

Can you shed some light on family rumour that Grandma Mary Motto's father was a Filipino named Laksamana? Oh yah! he would be your late father's father also hahaha.. I get confused with our connections sometime.

Tina said...

Hi! I'm here again. Checking out what you've edited. Now that you've inserted the map I can see where I was mistaken. I thought you meant the Petagas bridge, where the flyover is.
Anyway, this grave is definitely not in Kg. Contoh. I'll find out for you if no one beats me to it!

I think "Laksamana" is a title, not a name. Probably Brunei or even Sulu in origin. The man's grave is in Bundu. We should go visit it one of these days.

I found your blog some time ago. Your post on your origin caught my eye! I knew it was you only after reading it.

Marise said...

FASCINATING! FASCINATING! FASCINATING! Rmbr I asked u abt the history of Sabah? :) I love reading abt origins and ancient history. Thank you, Gaman. Good job, you!

MaDaZzAi Video said...


MaDaZzAi Video said...

Diputerakan means something like he was bestowed/given as Prince by his father .. I cant explain it really well in english

Nadiah Ha said...

I went to KK last 2 days ago & to my surprise, I spotted these 2 precious graves situated next to the main road (I never see this graves when I went to KK years ago lol). As an amateur historian, I really really love this article & thank you for posting this because I had learn something new :)

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