Sacred relic chronicles Pahu village’s past

Journeying through time: Bangkuai taking a closer look at the 84 straight short lines (pic below) carved on one of the stones. The Pahu community believe that their ancestors fought a horrible war to claim the village as their rightful home and evidence of that is recorded on the ‘sogindai’.

KOTA KINABALU: Kampung Pahu’s history is carved in stone.

Within this village some 80km away from Kota Kinabalu, vertical stones, known locally as sogindai, are where warriors would once hang up the heads of their enemies.

Through stories passed down for generations, the Pahu community believe that their ancestors fought a horrendous war to claim the village as their rightful home.

“In the past, civil wars were common. There was evidence of conflict between the communities here to claim a place, and their victories are carved on the stones,” said Kiulu assemblyman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai.

“In the olden days, the people’s strength was based on the number of heads (usually the enemy’s chief) severed during war.

“For Kampung Pahu in Kiulu, there are 84 short lines carved on one of the stones, representing the number of heads severed.

“But this happened hundreds of years ago. This was how the village was formed, and the people are grateful for their (warriors’) sacrifices.

“At the surface, it is just stone, but in fact, there is a deep meaning to it, a history to be told.

“This is Kiulu’s history,” he said at the “popohimagon sogindai” or the launch of the new site for the stones recently.

The stones were moved from their original location to the final site to make way for the construction of a road.

Villager Paralos Kombiong said the stones were believed to be of a man and a woman.

“We were told that the warriors would go to the sogindai to hang up the severed heads of their enemies, which were dried and kept as trophy skulls,” he said.

Sogindai is a Dusun word which means a stone to display severed heads.

“We believe that there are spirits guarding the stones because when they tried to move the stones from their original site to make way for road construction three years ago, they had to do a ritual to appease the spirits,” he added.

Kombiong said during construction, workers who put up makeshift shelters by the roadside complained of being “disturbed” every night.

“Sometimes, they would see something in the form of a woman bathing in a nearby river late at night and on some nights, an angry buffalo would charge at them. These are among the horror stories.

“They could not stand the constant disturbances, so they decided to stay closer to villagers’ houses. Upon hearing their stories, the villagers knew something must be done to pacify the spirits and a ritual was performed, including slaughtering a buffalo. After that, the disturbances stopped.

“Yet, we still respect the stones. We will not carry out any unnecessary burning near it and those with bad intentions must not come close to the stones,” said the 64-year-old.

Stephen Kimbin, 58, from Kampung Lokos, said moving the stones was almost impossible before a special ritual, claiming that even a group of 10 to 15 strongmen would not be able to do it because these were guarded by some kind of force or spirit.

“But after these spiritual entities are appeased, the stones are easily lifted,” he added.

At the new site, only part of the stones is visible, with the rest partially buried in the ground to symbolise that they are now at “home”.

Bangkuai, who is also the state Assistant Tourism, Culture and Enviroment Minister and Sabah Tourism Board chairman, said they were planning to put up facilities such as small cabins and toilets, as well as provide some narration about the stones.

“These are the kind of things that attract tourists. We call it experiential tourism, allowing visitors to experience and learn our culture and urban legends,” he added.

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Kampung Pahu , Stones


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