Old coffins in a cave at Batu Puteh, Kinabatangan District, Sabah.
Agop Batu Tulug is a steep limestone cliff that stands 39 meters high and is part of the 20-25 million- year old Labang limestone formation.
Located just before Batu Puteh village and the only bridge that crosses Kinabatangan River,
Agop means “cave” in the local Orang Sungei language, and Tulug means “to sleep” in the Visayan language.
The visitors might wonder how the coffin can be carried all the way up as the climbing up the stairs is tough.
Batu Putih village can be viewed from here as well.
There are three main caves in Agop Batu Tulug namely Agop Suriba (Lower Cave), Agop Lintanga (Middle Cave) and Agop Sawat (Uppermost Cave) betweeen 12-15m high.
Another smaller cave, Agop Dimunduk is located near the summit of a cliff along the slope of the limestone hill. Agop Batu Tulug was used as an ancient log coffin burial site from about 500 to 690 years ago.
This practice of log coffin burial is prevalent in this part of Sabah Borneo.
The caves here (Agop Sawat, Lintanga & Dimunduk) contain more than 125 log carved coffins.
Inside the middle and upper caves are more than a hundred carved wooden coffins dating back 200-250 years, watched over by bats and swallows.
These coffins were made from ‘belian’ hardwood, Eusideroxylon zwager and decorated with carvings of buffalo head, crocodile, house lizard and snake.
The carvings on the coffins reflect the myths and legends of the Kinabatangan people, e.g., a crocodile is related to death and the power darkness while the bugang bird, dog, rooster and deer were friends of their heroes. The coffins resemble different animals associated to the beliefs of the Orang Sungai but it has also been said that they are the coffins of the Chinese who once settled in the area as Chinese artifacts were found among the remains.
It is said that the first Chinese seaman, Admiral Cheng Ho visited the area (Kinabatangan) in 1421. It is believed that wooden coffins found in burial complexes at limestones caves such as those at Batu Tulug, which is preserved as a museum, are linked to earlyChinese settlements.
A site Museum since 1996, it has facilities such as an information center, stairs leading to the caves, toilets and resting huts.
It is certainly an archaeological sites, making it a unique cultural heritage of Sabah Borneo, Malaysia.
The drive to Batu Tulug takes one and a half hours from Sandakan or 45 minutes from Lahad Datu. You may self-drive or go through a tour operator.
Daily from 9.00am till 5.00pm
MyKad holders : RM 2.00 (Adults)
Others : RM15.00
Students in uniform, children below 12 years, disabled persons and senior citizens enter for free
Museum Batu Tulug
WDT 197, 90200 Kota Kinabatangan Sabah
Tel : 6 089 565145 (Ticket counter), 6 089 551062 (Office)
Email : [email protected]
Webpage : http://www.mzm.sabah.gov.my/agoptulug/cyber_tulugmuseum.htm