"We were all made welcome and we got a chain. Then we could go in, all the children around us! Really fun! (Gong) music was already sounding from the longhouse. They also make those gongs themselves and then do a traditional dance on them. They were working on that now. It was the same as the night before, but this was different. More really, in the meantime the women were weaving, children were playing. (Well running around because they don't have any toys, a few cars, that's all).
This longhouse was also real, where they lived, the one from the day before was really for tourists, but this is where the clothes hung. There were women with almost no teeth in their mouths, and they just kept smiling at you ... but yes! Nice way, you know!"
In Rungus culture, the gong, an endemic musical instrument, plays a central role during festivals and grand celebrations such as weddings. The gongs sold in Kampung Sumangkap vary in size - from small to large souvenirs up to 2 meters in diameter, with different shapes and unique designs.
The chime is usually made of copper or bronze, it produces muffled sounds with a deep tone, when the thick and wide rim was hit by a stick. As the backbone of most music ensembles, gong is played in almost every social event in Sabah.
When Sabahans want to dance, they hit the gong. If they want to celebrate a wedding, they sound the gong. When someone dies, they also sound the gong. Gong is also played on other occasions such as animistic religion ceremonies, festivals and welcoming guests.
The gong used to be more than a musical instrument without a telephone. Besides showing happiness and sadness, the gong was also a means of communication to send signals to other villagers up to 5 miles away. Listeners can tell from the beat whether it is good or bad news. Slow rhythm means an invitation to have a drink. Fast rhythm indicates danger. When someone dies, the beats start slowly, first in speed, then resume a slow beat.
In the past, the gong was highly prized and owning a gong is a sign of wealth. Villagers traded cattle for a gong, and a gong is one of the usual items in the bride price. The chime is appreciated for its age and tone. People that time can recognize the unique sound of individual chimes and even see if a chime is at fault. Therefore, stealing a gong is rare, as the owner (and other villagers) will locate his gong as soon as the thief strikes it.
There are many types of gongs, but in general, gong can be divided into three main groups, namely tawak, chanang and togung. Some gongs have an interesting motif on them. Individual chimes also have a name that indicates the sound or rhythm it is playing. These musical names vary in different tribes.
The pinnacle of Sumangkap is the biggest gong in Malaysia. This gigantic chime is 6 meters long and weighs 980 kilograms.