PEOPLE OF TAWAU | Bugis |
Bajau | Chinese
| Iban |
Indian | Murut |
Orang Cocos |
Tagahas | Tidong |
| Bajau of
Malaysia | Bajau Dancers
| LEPA |
LEPA 2006 |
The 2nd International Confernece
on BAJAU/SAMA Diaspora & Maritime Southeast Asian Cultures 23 - 26 March 2017
Theme: Sama DiLaut Migration & Politics; Ritual & Sacred Spaces; Performing Arts
(Music & Dance); Heritage & Material Culture; Bajau Sama Language & Literature.
The boats of the Bajau
The Bajau Laut of Sabah, Malaysia are using
two types of boats:
1- The Lepa - served as fishing and house boat,
2- The Boggo’ - much smaller, dug-out from
In the Philippines the Bajau (Sama) use a
third type of boat:
3- Vinta boat
The boggo’ is used exclusively inshore, or
over shallow water,
The Lepa serves as the main fishing vessel
and family home during sea voyages.
The Vinta has a sail with assorted vertical
colors that represents the colorful culture and history of the Muslim community
MAKING A BOGGO BOAT
".....According to village informants, the
lepa was first made for trade by Sama
Kubang boatwrights and was adopted by the Bajau Laut, apparently replacing
Its introduction may have been as recent as
the beginning of the twentieth century, although this is not certain. However,
photographs taken in Semporna
in the 1910s and early 1920s show only small outrigger vessels (e.g., see Cook
1924 : 120)."
Bajau laut boat-building in Semporna
Bajau of Borneo
2018 Tawau International Cultural
8th April 2018 Tawau Town
The Bajau of Borneo
(The Sea Gypsies of Celebes Sea)
2018 Tawau International Cultural Festival
8th April 2018 Tawau Town
Islands in Celebes Sea are home to
several maritime people.
Travelers refers them as the "sea
Sea Bajau (Sama Dilaut) is one of these sea-going
Sama Dilaut (Sea Bajau ) live all over the
Philippine Sulu Archipelago, Southwestern Mindanao, Sabah in Borneo, East
Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and Eastern Indonesian islands.
In Borneo Island, Sama Dilaut settled down in
Semporna Town and the nearby islands.
They call themselves the Sea Bajau (Bajau Laut) and maintain strong ties with
their related communities in Celebes Sea.
Bajau, from old to young, are a colorful, festive
and musical people.
They are descendents of royalty in their belief.
This is why they traditionally wear richly
colorful costumes made by hand.
In East Coast Borneo, the Bajau Laut, as the Sama
Dilaut around Semporna, Sabah/Borneo call themselves,
The Southeast Asian island world is home to several maritime
communities whose people often are referred to as "sea nomads"
or "sea gypsies," names that appeal to the exoticist imagination
of Western travelers.
The Sama Dilaut, one of these sea-going peoples, live all
over the Philippine Sulu Archipelago, southwestern Mindanao,
Sabah in Borneo, east Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and many of the eastern
In East Coast Borneo, the Bajau Laut, as the Sama Dilaut
around Semporna, Sabah/Borneo call themselves, have strong ties
with their related communities in the Philippines.
Some of these Bajau Laut have maintained their
nomadic or semi-nomadic lifestyle, living in houseboats and only
temporarily setting up makeshift huts on small islets in the
Celebes and South China Seas.
However, some have become sedentary, living in
the stilt houses "floating villages" that
started to grow considerably in Semporna during the 1960s.
“Bajau Laut”: “Sea Bajau.”
Traditionally, the families lived on houseboats, coming
ashore only to stock up their water and food supply and to trade
with the shore-based communities their fish for
items they needed for daily life on the sea.
Their creed is syncretism of ancestor spirit worship and
Sunni Islam: healing rites, annual ceremonies dedicated to
specific spirits, and other religious events nearly always
include both the invocation of ancestors and spirits, and an
Wherever in the Southeast Asian archipelagos they live, other
communities consider the Bajau Laut to be on the social ladder's
Adding to profound social discrimination and economic
poverty, the armed conflict in the Southern Philippine Sulu
Archipelago has deprived many Bajau of free access to their
"home waters;" a great number of Bajau from this area,
impossible to define because of their frequent lack of official
citizenship, have fled to the Northern Philippines, Indonesia,
or Malaysian Borneo.
Especially in the Northern Philippines' urban areas, they
scrape out their living bereft of their two most important
possessions—their boat and their mobility.
Sabah's Bajau Laut Community Ready To
By Haslin Gaffor
SEMPORNA, Feb 22 (Bernama) -- At one time, Imai Ulaiman,
50, used to live on his boat at sea but now has
resettled on terra firma along with his family at Pulau
In spite of the initial apprehensions, Imai still went
ahead with his decision to end his nomadic lifestyle on
the boat with the direction literally set by the winds.
This was the typical life of the Bajau Laut or the
Pala'u community who are known as the sea-farers of
But what prompted Imai to take the plunge, he told the
writer through an interpreter, it is to embrace
development for the sake of his future generations.
Imai's family is among the 30 odd families living in the
settlement and the sea is still close to their heart.
Their house stands on the sea and the boat still serves
them as their main transport mode. The Bajau Laut's
change in lifestyle has helped the government and the
non-governmental organisations to channel assistance,
especially employment opportunities based on marine
Imai made the right decision because he will be among
the settlers to partake in a seaweed culture project
under the Semporna Island's Darwin Project meant to
improve their socio-economic standing.
Under this project, the participants are provided
equipment and the know-how in implementing the seaweed
The Semporna Island's Darwin Project is an initiative to
rope in the local community to preserve the marine life
especially the corals at the Tun Sakaran Marine Park.
The project took off in 1998 and maintained by the
Marine Preservation Organisation with the cooperation of
Sabah Parks to preserve the biodiversity around the park
by encouraging the sustainable use of the marine
Imai said he is eager to get on with the seaweed culture
as it promises regular income for the family.
"At present, we live on the catch and coconuts collected
from nearby islands. I want to change my present way of
life so that my coming generations can enjoy development
and they can go to school," said Imai who only speaks in
his native language.
Imai lives with his wife, children and grandchildren in
two adjoining houses, and the houses are cramped as 15
people are living in them.
NO REGULAR INCOME
The dwellers in the island don't have steady source of
income and valuable catch like shrimps and fishes are
sold to fishermen or bartered for rice or clothes.
Many from the Pala'u ethnicity still hold strongly to
their traditional ways with most without identification
documents or formal education. They speak only in their
Another member of the community who is also seeking the
winds of change is Injalmani Masewani, 50, who is also
eager to participate in the Semporna Island Darwin
"I cant wait to get on with this project as it promises
a bright future for the whole family and free us from
the shackles of poverty," said the father of nine.
MIGRATING TO LAND
It is estimated that at present there are only about 150
Pala'u families in the district who still live on boats.
The major Pala'u settlements in this district is at
Kampung Labuan Haji, Pulau Bum-Bum and Kampung
Bangau-Bangau. Many live in homes built under the
Hardcore Poor Housing Programme.
The Bajau Laut community in Pulau Bodgaya has been
offered the seaweed culture project as it has proven
successful in several coastal districts.
The seaweed culture activity is a viable income
generator for the locals and is helping to enhance
Semporna district's economy as the leading seaweed
producer in Sabah. In this district the seaweed culture
project has already been implemented in Pulau Selakan,
Kerindingan, Bum-Bum, Sebangkat, Sibuan, Pababag and
The project has transformed the lives of the settlers in
the village and they are now no longer left out from
|The Bajau people came from 2 tribes : 1) Bajau
Kota Belud and 2)
Bajau Laut tribes of Semporna
The Bajau tribes of
Kota Belud are known for horse-riding while the Bajau Laut tribes of Semporna are known for their seafaring
Bajau Laut tribes are known as the sea gypsy people
like other island people of the Pacific Ocean in southern Philippines and other
For many years Bajau Laut lived in the ocean on make-shift
house boats. Only in recent years
they made settlements on coastal area with houses
built on stilts. The ocean is still their main
source of living - fishing, collecting clams and mussels, and pearl farming
in Bodgaya Island and Boheydulang Island.
||Traditional Festival Costume of Bajau Laut
tribes (sea gypsy people) of Malaysia
Bajau Laut (Sea Bajau)
traditionally lived on
house boats. Recent years
they made settlements on coastal houses on stilts. The sea is still their main
source of living.