Mount Kinabalu is a well-known mountain that attracts climbers from all over the world. It is the third highest mountain in South East Asia right after Mount Hkakabo Razi in Myanmar and Puncak Jaya in Indonesia respectively. It is located at a World Heritage Site; Kinabalu Park in Sabah, Malaysia. There are variations of flora and fauna that can be found on the mountain at different altitudes.
Below is a map of Malaysia and a close-up map of Sabah:
No one knows how Mount Kinabalu got its name but there are a few theories from folklores that tell stories of how the mountain got its name.
Aki Nabalu and Kina Balu
These theories are based on the Kadazandusun tribes. They believed that the mountain is their version of “Heaven” and that the word is derived from Aki Nabalu that translates to “The revered place of the dead”. The tribes believed that this is where their spirits go after death
Another theory from a popular folklore, the name Kinabalu actually meant “Cina Balu” which translates to “Chinese Widows”. The folklore tells a story of a dragon guarding a precious and magical jewel at the summit of the mountain. Many Chinese soldiers died while attempting to take the dragon’s treasure and the wives of the Chinese soldier’s became widows.
The Chinese Prince
There’s also another folklore similar to the story of “Cina Balu”. It tells a story of a Chinese prince that ascended the mountain, killed the dragon and seized the pearl. He married a Kadazan woman and later abandoned to return to China. His heartbroken wife wandered into the mountains to mourn and was turned to stone by the spirits.
Kinohiringan and Umunsumundu
A creation myth from the Kadazandusun tribe tells how the supreme deities Kinohiringan and his wife, Umunsumundu created the universe. Kinohiringan created the sky, clouds and everything above the earth while his wife, Umunsumundu shaped the earth. However, the sky was smaller than the earth and this hurts his pride. Usumundu found out about her husband’s shame and she recreated the earth to match the size of the clouds, making Kinabalu or Kinorungoi as the center of the world.
Interesting isn't it? Folklores is interesting because it reflects their beliefs, traditions, and customs. Something that we; as an outsider couldn't help but be curious about it. We can learn so much about other cultures just from that alone.
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I hope you find this article helpful.