July 12, 2011

Dusun Tatana Wedding Dowry?

It's hot during the day to work and having nothing better to do, I decided to rummage through my mom's stuff hehehe.. Yeah, I'm an Indiana Jones of sort but for good reason. You see, I'm collecting whatever family history I could before my mother forgot about them. Her mind is not as sharp as it used to be and these days, she's becoming more and more absent minded. Gosh, she's not going senile! Why did you even think of that! Just her internal processor slowed down a bit. This one cannot upgrade, hardware too obsolete for the new processor out there these days. 

Anyway, I found the only thing that she inherited or claimed as her right(being the eldest) from my late maternal grandmother Mary Motto(cool surname right)! She's half suluk by the way or at least that is what family story says so. They say her father got shipwrecked and stranded in Kuala Penyu. His name was Disman and he was called the Laksamana by the people of Kuala Penyu and he was from the Philippines. Name me one seafaring people from the Philippines who often either raided or traded with the natives of North Borneo? The Sulu or Suluk comes to mind. You should see her brother's(my late Ingkung or granduncle) descendants, they have sharp facial features! High nose bridge, not very common in Dusun people. Macam ang moh! And what do we at this side of the family get? Typical Dusun noses LOL. *fist in the air* Damn you gene! [I'm not mentioning names here to protect the privacy of my beautiful relatives :P]

By the way, I'm digressing on purpose here. I'm bored! Haven't been able to work for 2 days now and I'm getting restless.

Anyway, the family heirloom I found was a belt made up of coins. My mom says my late maternal grandfather James Sunam gave it to my grandma when they got married. Sort of like a dowry. When I was young, I always see the Dusun ladies wearing these belt whenever they were in their traditional garments. I never thought of asking what exactly they(the belt), I just accepted that they are accessories. 

Does it mean when a Dusun maiden has this on her person, it signifies that she is married? The coin is made of silver and they were in 1 Dollar denomination(at least for my grandma's belt). Kinda risky walking around with coins on your waist in the old days, don't you think so? Like advertising yourself, "Rob me". 

17.00 Dollar belt. Each coins is 1 Dollar and 1 Dollar must have been a BIG sum in those days. If this a dowry, I pity those olden Dusun who wanted to marry a woman of big waist in those days. Bigger waist, bigger dowry.  

One side of the coin says One Dollar and there's an image of a lady holding a spear on her right hand, a shield on the other hand and she's wearing a helmet that looks like a Roman helmet. The oldest of the coins dated 1895. So I have a 116 year old coin in my hand. 

On the other side of the coin are 2 chinese characters and some Jawi inscription. 

See the hook they welded to the coin? 

My mom says these are coins actually used as currencies in those days. I wonder whether it's the same ones used in Malaya or these were only used in British North Borneo? 

That's it, hitherto, this is all I know about this stuff.
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