People & Culture: Bajau

The Kota Belud Bajau Horseman are the famous Cowboys of the East. During special occasions, the Bajau Horseman wears a black, sometimes white, long-sleeved shirt called badu sampit. Smart, gold buttons betawi run down the front opening and the shirt is also decorated with silver flowers called intiras.

The trousers are more tight-fitting than the bajau bridegroom's seluar sama. The horseman's seluar sampit is balck, and both the shirt and trousers have gold lace trimmings sewn on. He also wears a headpiece podong similar to the Bajau bridegroom's.

The Bajau horseman wears a silver-hilted dagger karis at his side. The sheath is made of wood and silver. He also carries a spear bujak and a shipping crop pasut.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the Bajau horseman is his horse, or rather pony. It has its own costume and is more gaily dressed than the rider. The ourfit kain kuda almost completely covers the pony except for holes for the eyes and nose. This cloth is tied around the pony's legs to keep it in place.

The saddle sila-sila is not like the cowboy saddles of the West but rather a smaller piece of buffalo hide so shaped to fit the pony's back. A thick piece of cloth lapik is placed under the sila-sila.

Antique brass bells seriau, colourful reins tingalu and bridle kakang all make for a very festive pony costume. In all their finery, both ride and pony become quite an attraction.