22 February 2010

Down memory lane- 'mimbatu'

'Mimbatu' as the name suggests has something to do with stones (watu=stones), or more likely pebbles. It is a game played by every Dusun girl when I was growing up. (I don't quite remember whether boys played it too but I have a feeling that they thought the game too 'girlish' that it would actually tarnish their macho outlook should they play it...)

Last CNY holidays hubby and I decided to take the kids to Kg.Luanti, Ranau, a place famous for its fish. They are no ordinary fish, they do you a service of removing cuticles and 'sucking body wind' (supposedly) off your feet. All you have to do is dip your feet in the river and they'll happily bit on them. Of course you have to pay RM5 (or RM15 for non-Malaysians) but that'd get you a 15-min feet-dip in the river. But this is a digression...the main entry is about mimbatu...

On another section of the river, one can dip oneself for as long as one wishes to for free. That's where we went to after the fish-biting session. And that's where I saw the pebbles that are just perfect for 'mimbatu'. They are about the size of small marbles, quite smooth but not very round. I collected seven, the number required in the game and decided to show the kiddies what fun was like when I was growing up, long before the internet era :-)

This is how the game is played(At least 2 players play the game, siting face to face on the floor. They choose which one has the first go):

1. First you hold all seven rocks on your palm and gently throw them on the ground.
2. Pick a stone, throw it up the air, quickly pick one of the remaining stones on the floor and catch the thrown stone.
3. Repeat the process untill all six stones are collected.
4. If you managed to successfully pick all six stones without dropping any, then you go on to the next level.
5. The next level is to gently put the 7 stones on the ground, pick one to be the throwing stone but instead of picking one off the ground, this time you pick two.
6. Having done this successfully, you go on to the next level which is to pick 3 stones, then 4 + 2, 5 + 1, and finally all 6 off the ground at one go.
7. If at any level of the game you dropped a stone, your turn is over and you have to hand over the stones to your opponent.
8. The one who gets to the 6-at-one-go level is declared the winner.

Of course, the game sounds so simple but actually it is not. It takes a good motor skill and coordination, plus one can show off by throwing the stone as high as one can up on the air and catching it with style. And as I expected, none of my kids can do it. What a sad thing. Maybe if it is made into a virtual game they would find it much more appealing...

10 February 2010


Somebody mentioned a very interesting piece of information about the Dusun's 'goroi'(large jar) today. She said that in one of the Dusun villages she visited, very old gorois are used as rice-wine containers, when once upon a time they were used for burial purposes. (Goroi, by the way is just one of the many types of jar that the Dusun people kept. I don't really know how many types are there, but the common ones are called the 'kakanan' (tajau in Malay). These are used for keeping rice wine).

Goroi, on the other hand, refers to the large type. Very large indeed that an adult body can be fitted in one(sitting down, naturally). Instead of coffins, gorois were what used to keep the deads then. They would be buried somewhere near the house of the family, as there were no burial plots back then.

This is where my knowledge of this stop. I wonder what would happen to the buried gorois. Perhaps they would remain buried until somebody from the next generations stumbled upon them and decided to keep them again (??).

Anyhow, the thought that somebody is keeping rice-wine in burial gorois (no matter that it was done long time ago), is a bit distasteful. I just hope it's not one of my foreparents that were kept in whatever gorois they now use for rice-wine making...