Yunnan Culture Center
Monsopiad Cultural Village
Sarawak Cultural Village

Monsopiad Cultural Village

Monsopiad Cultural Village
..the village of Kadazan warrior Monsopiad..
16 km (20 minutes)from Kota Kinabalu City

MONSOPIAD CULTURAL VILLAGE is named after the great Kadazan warrior and headhunter, this is a historical site in Penampang that offers visitors an interactive experience and fascinating insight into the daily lives and traditional beliefs of the Kadazandusun people. Have a go at traditional games and sports, walk on the hanging bridge, visit traditional houses, taste local rice wine, participate In traditional dances and test your skills on the blowpipe! While here, a must-visit is the House of Skulls - home to Monsopiad's several headhunting trophies, which are eerily lined up along the ceiling.

Monsopiad Cultural Village is where Monsopiad, a great Kadazan warrior, once lived. Today, his descendants have built and manage this village to let visitors experience the Kadazans' way of life and to keep their culture alive.

Nestled beside the Penampang River is a set of traditional buildings that make up the Monsopiad Cultural village, a living museum located 16 km (half an hour drive) from the Kota Kinabalu City.

Monsopiad was a fearsome warrior who lived in the this Kuai Village 200 years ago.


Visit  the legendary house that displays the 42 skulls, of  Monsopiad's victims and a thigh bone of the giant Gantang and gain an insight into the past pagan era of the Kadazan people. Don't miss this opportunity to view this unique rustic village, the only one of its kind set amidst serene hills in the outskirts of Kota Kinabalu.

The Monsopiad Cultural Village is open to groups for dinner & show in the evening as well. Local and International visitors can taste the delicious traditional local foods and drinks and also try their hunting skills with the indigenous blow-pipe or perform the breathtakingly fast head-hunters dance, the Anggalang/ Magunatip.

The Kadazan virtually like all the ethnic entitles in Borneo have found ways to ferment rice, their staple food. An integral aspect of their cultures, tapai, which is too many international travelers synonym to rice-wine, is a must at celebrations, especially during the harvest festival in Sabah in May. Often, rice-wine is tasted through a straw from the jar in which it was left to ferment!

Three hundred years ago, a warrior named Monsopiad defended his village. So great was his power, that no enemy could match him. Throughout his live, Monsopiad took 42 skulls as a proof of his prowess. The skulls are now being looked after by his direct descendants, who adhere faithfully to the old customs and traditions, testimony of an old and proud culture.

The Bobohizan are the ritual specialists of the Kadazan community of Sabah. Treasuring an age-old mystical wisdom. They have acquired medial powers and herbal knowledge In years of apprenticeship with an-experienced Bohungkitas, a high priestess. The Bobohizan looked after the well being of their people as their spiritual leaders, and medical specialists. They maintained harmony between human beings, nature and spiritual world.

Monsopiad was a famous headhunter some three hundred years ago; his direct descendants keep and look after his hunting trophies. And the Bobohizan, the Kadazan ritual specialists, perform ancient ceremonies on a regular basis to maintain harmony between human beings, nature, and spiritual world.

More than being a living museum, the Monsopiad Cultural Village aims at studying, conserving, keeping alive and sharing the rich cultural and ancient traditional heritage of the Kadazan in Sabah. Traditional activities such as the beads making and weaving mats are performed and taught on a regular basis.

The village is run by the direct descendants of Monsopiad. Some humble research on traditional music and dances as well as handicrafts has been done. However it is of utmost urgency that the age-old wisdom of the few remaining bobohizan be collected, written down and translated, and eventually analyzed. Equally the old legends and traditions, the rites and ceremonies have to be reassembled and documented for future generations. You can help to assure continuous studies, as well as the regular maintenance and running of the cultural village. At Monsopiad Cultural Village every visitor contributes directly to the conservation of one of Malaysia's ever so rich cultural heritages. Your patronage and support is very much needed and appreciated.

The Monsopiad Cultural Village founded in 1996, in memory of the great Kadazan warrior and head-hunter Monsopiad. The traditional village is a historical site, and the only Kadazan Cultural Village in Sabah. It was built on the very land where Monsopiad lived and roamed some three centuries ago. Take a .step back into the past, to the days of head hunting and spirit worship, to the days when the Bobohizan, the female high priestess of the Kadazan ruled the pillages and took care of the health and spiritual well-being of their people. The village has been built entirely with traditional materials, the way the Kadazan have until recently erected their houses. It offers many an interesting insight into the daily life of the biggest ethnic entity in Sabah, the Kadazan. Traditional dances and music are being performed on a regular basis-Monsopiad Cultural Village is a living museum. More than being a museum, the concept of the Monsopiad Cultural Village is to document, revive and keep alive the culture and traditions, as well as the believes of the Kadazan community.

The village aims at becoming a centre of research and dissemination of information for the cultural, historical and natural heritage of the Kadazan and its objectives are to record the wisdom of the Bobohizan and to write down the old stories and legends, document and keep alive traditional craft and teach and perform the traditional music and dances. Through Informal educational ways, the village alms at assisting in creating a cultured and knowledgeable society, and instilling pride amongst the many ethnic entities in Sabah. The Kadazan culture has a long history and is now amongst the countless colorful and exciting traditional heritages that make the charm of Malaysia and lure every year thousands of international tourists

"Monolith" stone

A sacred stone weighing over 2 tons and standing 4 meters tall. This Monolith, Gintutun do Mohoing, stone was placed in its original position by the villagers, after being commanded by Monsopiad to build a monument in his honour with the help of The "Bobohizans" (Pagan Priestess) and the unknown forces summoned by the latter from the spirit world.

This huge granite stone was carved out from an island. It was placed in between two huge raft and was transported over ten miles across the open sea to the mouth of the Moyog river and then brought up river to the site where it stands today. This was an amazing feat in itself over 250 years ago.

Monsopiad used the Monolith stone as a place to bring the head that he has just taken to be dried up. This ritual was always done with grand ceremony, accompanied by chanting "Bobohizans" singing, dancing Kadazan maidens and war cries from the tribal warriors.

This large stone  was once used for human sacrifice: the victim was tied to it and killed with bamboo spears. Tall bamboo poles surround it: the top of each is cup-shaped to hold a severed head as it dried in the open air. It is said that the stone is inhabited by spirits from the past.

We climbed steep wooden steps up to the longhouse of Agil Bajarai, the descendant of a headhunter. It had been raining heavily when we arrived but inside it was completely dry. Large pots lined one wall and from the central roof beam 42 skulls, darkened with age, were tied together with a natural twine, striking a macabre note. Outside, a cock crowing or the clang of a gong broke the unnerving stillness in the house.

Agil is a tall, soft-spoken Kadazan, who immediately put us at ease. "Headhunters would take the head for its power," he explained. "They were taking the spirit of the person to use it as a blessing or to heal people. The more spirits you had the better, because then you could communicate with the next world. When you had someone's head, you automatically had everything else that belonged to him. We keep these heads to show the next generation so that they know their roots."


Photo above : Riverside Cafe/Visitor center beside the river.

Native houses are built of wood, bamboo and thatch, they stand on stilts and the airflow keeps the interior cool.


How to make the traditional MONSOPIAD RICE WINE

1 gantang (3.5 kg) pulut (glutinous rice) cooked ‘al dente’ with just enough water. It is important that the rice is not overcooked, as this would spoil the taste of the wine.

Once cooked the rice is spread on a mat, or on a 'kohintung’ tray and allowed to cool for a couple hours.

When the rice is not too hot any more (you can touch it without burning your fingers), the yeast (sasad), pounded and ground to fine powder, is added.

The whole is thoroughly mixed and transferred to a jar or plastic bucket with a fitting lid.

The jar is sealed with banana leaves, or 'tarap' Leaves or, nowadays, with plastic bags and rubber band.

In the olden days, many taboos have to be observed during the making of rice wine. Thus one is not allowed to swear of fight during the cooking process, or to talk bad and loudly.

Other taboos are connected to practical hygiene, such as the rule that one cannot touch lemons or any other sour thing during the preparations. This could turn the wine sour.

Often a piece of charcoal, o a small knife called pa' is placed on top of the jar with the fermenting rice, to prevent bad spirits from entering the receipt and spoil the wine - lihing, being an entirely the receipt natural wine, will turn into vinegar when left exposed to air.


Used to keep the rice wine or 'lihing', to store water and rice, and also as a gift during any special occasion such as the wedding ceremony.

And sometimes, it can be called as 'Spirit Jar' where in the olden days; the people used to keep the spirit inside of it.

Sasad (Yeast)

The yeast are pounded and ground to fine powder and added to the rice in making the rice wine.

LADU (Plough)

Made from iron wood.  The Ladu is used to soften the soil.


This  'traditional granary tool' is made from rattan, granite and iron wood.

Guguzangan is used to grain paddy. And also used to seperate the paddy.

SIUNG (Sun hat)

A traditional women's sun hat. Made from bamboo pelt or 'pandan' leaves or mengkuang leaves


Made either from banboo pelt, 'pandan. leaves or mengkuang.

Kohintung is used to wing-up the pounded paddy in order to separate the husks and the rice.  Also used to dry the paddy, wet food which is dried out beneath sun.


Wakid is known as a 'Traditional Backpack' in the jungle. It was made from dried palm tree pelt.

Panding Tiga

This jar was made in Thailand during the 16th Century. It found its way to Borneo most probably with Chinese traders, who exchanged, amongst others, beads, cloth, gongs and jars with the local tribes for edible birds' nests, damar and other precious raisins, natural rubble, medicine etc.

The panding jar is a particularly Coveted jar amongst the Kadazan because it is used for ceremonial purposes.

This jar belongs to Dousia, the 6th direct descendant of Monsopiad and according to him this jar has been in their family as long as he can remember. It belonged to his mother, the late Chief High Priestess Bianti, and before that to her mother.

Open: dairy from 8:30 am to 5 pm.

Cultural shows: 10am, 11 am, 2 pm & 4 pm.

Guided tour: Before Cultural show starts

Admission rates: MYR50 (adult)  MYR10 (children 6 - 12 yrs) Inclusive of guided tour, welcome drink, and cultural show.

Tour duration: About 1-1.5 hours

Tel. 088 774 337

Kotos Di Monsopiad or Monsopiad's Main House is dedicated to the life and times of Monsopiad and his descendants. On display are ceramic jars, padi grinders, bamboo items as well as the costume of Bobohizan Inai Bianti, direct descendant of Monsopiad and very senior high priestess.

Other interesting exhibits include the massive monolith which invokes a dozen legends, the traditional restaurant and of course Siou Do Mohoing, or the House of Skulls, where all 42 'trophies' of Monsopiad hang from the rafters.

Getting There
Take the No.13 bus to Donggongon town in Penampang from the bus stations in front of City Hall or Wawasan Plaza in KK City. Fare is RM1.50. At Donggongon, board a minibus bound for Terawi and indicate your stop to the driver. Fare is RM1.00. You can also use any taxi to get there for RM35.00. Or contact the Village for shuttle services.

Opening Hours
Daily from 9.00am till 5.00pm

Admission fees (includes welcome drink, interactive guided tour)

Local Malaysian
RM 45.00 (Adult)
RM 15.00 (12 years and below)

RM 65.00 (Adult)
RM 25.00 (12 years and below)

Extra information can be obtained from
Monsopiad Cultural Village Sdn Bhd
Kg. Kuai/Kandazon, Penampang
P.O.Box 153 Tanjung Aru 89458
Kota Kinabalu
Sabah East Malaysia

Tel : 6 088 774337
Fax : 6 088 761680
Website :
Email :

Monsopiad Cultural Village is a place you can visit for a few hours and discover the rich cultural wonders of this unique village that depicts the true famous Kadazan Warrior "Monsopiad", who lived and roamed over 250 years ago on the very land that the village stands today. Here in the village you can meet the direct descendants of the famous warrior "Monsopiad" and hear some of the known legends and tales that has been passed down from generation to generation.

Visit the "House of Skulls" where it housed 42 human Skulls part of Monsopiad's trophies taken from several battles with Pirates and Plunderers and hear about a number of special heads that was taken from other tribal warriors who challenged Monsopiad's strength and failed.

Within the village you can also visit the spirit tree and the sacred " Burial Ground" of "Latana" The famous Kadazan Priestess.

Other attraction within the village are the Moyog River Hanging Bridge, Monsopiad Museum, Traditional Kadazan Rice Barn, Rice Farming, Souvenir shop, Jungle trek to Ceremonial Hill Where Monsopiad and The Bobohizans (Pagan Priestess) used to perform ritual ceremony, go on an organised rural tour comprising of ;

1. Traditional Rubber Tapping processing and simple latex processing.
2. Visit an orchid farm
3. Stop over at Kibambangan waterfall
4. Visit the sacred burial ground of the warrior Monsopiad.
5. Be entertained in the main long house by the Monsopiad Cultural Dance troupe.
6. Dine on traditional Kadazan cuisine.



INDEX : Kota Kinabalu  May 04, 2014 09:39:39 PM

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