Collection Description

Culture Name

Rungus Dusun

Culture Description

The Rungus are an Austronesian Dusunic speaking people of northern Borneo inhabiting the Kudat Division of Sabah, Malaysia. Other self-ascribed Dusunic-speaking ethnic groups including the Nulu' and Gonsomon live in the Kudat Division that are sometimes mistakenly identified as Rungus. Traditional subsistence was based on the cultivation in swiddens by the domestic families of dry rice, maize, cassava, and a variety of vegetables, melons, and pineapples. A domestic family raised pigs, chickens, and occasionally a water buffalo.


Select the Culture Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.


Asia --Southeast Asia



OWC Code


Number of Documents


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Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in the eHRAF collection and are referenced by author, date of publication, and eHRAF document number.

There are 14 documents in the Rungus Dusun file, all written by members of the Appell family, who carried out field work there in the years 1959-1960, 1961-1963, 1986, 1987, 1990, and 1992. The major ethnography on the Rungus Dusun is G. N. Appell's dissertation (1965, no. 1) based on the earlier fieldwork period 1959-1963. A good summary of the dissertation is found in G. N. Appell (1978, no. 2). In subsequent articles based on his dissertation G. N. Appell writes about Rungus social structure, property system, and ritual practices (G. N. Appell 1976, no. 4; 1988, no. 5); Dusun language groups (G.N Appell 1968, no. 8); the domestic developmental cycle and residence (G. N. Appell 1966, no. 13); the Rungus cognatic social system (G.N. Appell 1967, no. 14); and the impact of modernization (G. N. Appell 1985, no. 3). After his return to the field in the late 1980s and 1990s, G. N. Appell wrote about Rungus sexual behavior (G. N. Appell 1991, no. 6) and the impact of Christianity on Rungus conservation practices (G. N. Appell 1997, no. 7). Laura Appell has written on Rungus gender relations (Laura Appell 1991, no. 10) and menstruation (Laura Appell 1988, no. 11) George and Laura co-authored an article on Rungus female spirit mediums (Laura Appell and G. N. Appell 1993, no. 12). Their daughter Amity Appell Doolittle (1991, no. 15) wrote an article on the Rungus version of the famous Malaysian LATAH behavior.

For more detailed information on the content of the individual works in the file, see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.

The culture summary was written by G. N. Appell, August, 2000. Ian Skoggard wrote the synopsis, October, 2000.

Overview by

Ian Skoggard

ADAT--customary law--671

AKADANGAN--property violation--865


BOBOLIZAN--spirit medium--756, 791

DAPU--durable goods--422, 583


INDOPUAN DO NONGKOB--domestic corporate property--423, 422

IVANUM--parents-in-law--602, 606

KAMAMAN--Parent-in-law who looks after orphaned nieces and nephews--604

KOMOMOLI--an act that infers someone has died--688

KORIVA--extreme example of komomoli--688, 784

KOTUAAN--oldest male and female siblings--561, 593

KOVUSUNG--mystical sanction--576, 683, 784

LABUT--malevolent spirit--776

long-house--342, 621

LUMA'AG--spirit familiar--776


MONGIMBUHAL--insult, reference to genitalia--831, 578

MONGINAN--male founder of a long-house--624

NABALU--afterworld--772, 775


OBINGSALA--latah--154, 158

ORINTADAN--violation of food taboo--262, 264, 784

OSUNDUW--celestial gods--776

ROGAN--malevolent spirits--776

RUSOD--protector spirit--776

SURUPU--mystical power--778

TAMBAGA--brassware, female property--422

TANDON--child who takes care of parents--596, 888

TINUNGKUSAN--inherited property--428

TUMUTUM--sexual modesty--864


Indexing Notes by

Ian Skoggard

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