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MONSOPIAD - THE TALE

A long time ago a woman named Kizabon was pregnant. One day, Dunggou, her husband, saw that a sacred Bugang bird had nested on the top of the roof of their house, and had laid its eggs. Dunggou looked upon this coincidence as a good omen and a sign that their child would have special powers. The month passed and when the time came for the child to be borne the Bugang birds to hatched, too. Kizabon and Dunggou were filled with joy, for their child was a son. It was named Monsopiad, and whenever the baby was given his bath, Dunggou took the young birds down from their nest, to bathe them with the baby. Then he returned the birds carefully to the nest. This practice was diligently observed until the birds were able to fly and leave the nest.

Monsopiad was born and brought up in a village called Kuai, where his maternal grandfather was the headman. It was a rough time then, and often marauding Balinini pirates came down from Marudu. They would try every river along the coast in search for sliver and canons, slaves and food, and the Moyog River was not saved. The pirates plundered the villages they found, and like so many, Kuai offered little defence or resistance. During each attack, the villagers had no choice but to retreat and hide in the nearby jungle if they valued their lives dearly, until it was safe to return to their ransacked homes. However, as the grandson of the village headman, Monsopiad received special training as a warrior. Monsopiad turned out to be a natural fighter and handled every weapon with ease, and soon he had grown to a handsome and promising warrior. Yet, Monsopiad saw nothing special in himself, until one day, when he was tilling his rice field, a group of women came to him and started rebuking him for working so hard. "What a waste of time, here you work hard, every day, under the hot sun, but once you harvest everything your labour will be enjoyed by the robbers!" the most beautiful mocked, and her friend reminded him: "They always strike right after the harvest!" The women continued to ridicule the men of the village and called them weaklings for not being able to defend their village effectively. Monsopiad, angered by such mockery, made a vow then and there that he would start looking for the robbers the next day and finish them off. He promised to cut off the head of their leader and bring it back to the village as proof and trophy to be hung from the rafters of his house.

Indeed, the next morning, Monsopiad set off, taking along three young boys to bear witness to his deeds. The boys were to return to Kuai ahead of him to announce his success and herald his impending arrival by blowing on a bamboo trumpets. But before Monsopiad left, he threatened the women: "When I come back successfully, you must put on your best costumes, bear bamboo trays and give me a grand warriorís welcome. If you donít honour me properly, I will kill you all!" Intimidated, the women promised to do as he wished.

Monsopiad set out with the three boys in search of the robbers who had been plundering their village again and again. Five weeks later, he found them and a bloody fight ensued. As he had promised, Monsopiad fought the leader of the pirates and beheaded him. Seeing their leader dead, the other robbers fled for their lives. The three boys who had been watching the battle sped back to Kuai, Monsopiad following triumphantly.

When the people of the village heard the bamboo trumpets, they grew confused and frightened for they had not expected Monsopiad to succeed. The women who had mocked him were terrified for they had never before welcomed a warrior home, and only remembered too well Monsopiadís threat to kill them if they would not fulfil their promise. Fortunately, the Bobohizan priestesses knew what they had to do and gave them instructions: the women put on their best costumes and fineries, and were then led by the Bobohizans in a long and solemn procession. They all bore bamboo trays to ensure that the spirits surrounding Monsopiad would know they are honoured, too. As the priestesses and ladies went out to greet Monsopiad the entire village joined the procession. They sang songs of victory as soon as Monsopiad entered the village, and the sight, it is said, moved Monsopiad so much that it inspired him to vow to wipe out all the enemies of his village.

As the years passed, Monsopiad continued relentlessly with his self-imposed mission and in time, no robber nor evil warrior dared approaching the area of Kampung Kuai. However, Monsopiad had become an obsessed person who resorted to provoking other men into fighting. This gave him an excuse to kill and behead them. Soon, the other villagers, including Monsopiadís close friends were very wary and extremely afraid of him, until a group of brave warriors got together and decided that despite his heroic deeds, Monsopiadís uncontrollable desire to kill had made him a threat to the village. He had to be eliminated. Thus, one moonless night, the warriors silently and carefully approached the house Monsopiad was sleeping in. They attacked the hero who put up a fierce fight but found that he no longer had the strength he possessed while fighting the enemies of his village. Monsopiad realised too late that by abusing the special strength bestowed on him by the sacred Bugang bird, he had gradually become a common man. Fighting for all he was worth, he was wounded so badly that night that he lost all strength and collapsed. He was left for dead. When he came to himself, he knew he was wounded mortally and not even the best priestess would be able to save him, so he arranged for his impending death. Everybody gathered and he recognised his fault. He asked that his descendants look after the spirits in the skulls of his enemies, so that they could look after them for generations to come. The family and villagers still held Monsopiad dearly in their hearts for he was, after all, the man who had vanquished their enemies. He had, in total, collected the heads of 42 powerful warriors, a feat that no other man could equal. His promise was granted, and until now the direct descendants keep and look after his headhunting trophies, and his legendary sword. To continue the memory of the great Kadazan Warrior Monsopiad they have now erected a small cultural village so that even generations to come can learn about how Monsopiad, and the Kadazan, used to live not so long ago, and keep the vivid legends and his memory alive.

Source: Monsopiad Cultural Village


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