Kota Kinabalu
Kota Kinabalu
Sandakan
Tawau
Lahad Datu
Keningau
Putatan
Semporna
Kudat
Papar
Ranau
Beaufort
Kota Belud

Sayang Sabah - The voice of Sabahans

The Tamu

A typical tamu scene in Tamparuli
A typical tamu scene in Tamparuli

A Tamu or traditional market occurs in most township in Sabah. This culture  started a long time ago when the people  came together in a chosen venue to barter trade their produce.

Those who had game would exchange their items with those who had tapioca or potatoes. There would also be meeting in the tamu to exchange livestock for other items such as brass ware or farming items such as machetes and axes.

Later, traders from other countries like China and Brunei came to barter trade their goods for damar or resins as well as rattan. The Tamu then shifted to areas near rivers. This enabled the Junks to reach the area.  This period of the people’s life in North Borneo was a catalyst of change where clothes and trinkets such as  beads were introduced as well as ceramics and other items of Chinese origin.

A tamu scene in Tamparuli
A tamu scene in Tamparuli

Nowadays, this traditional market has become a very modern market with colourful clothes and plastic wares sold everywhere. There are ‘branded’ items of clothing and handbags as well as shoes and even bed-sheets. There are also cakes and all kind of edibles found in the Tamu.

However in most Tamu, there will always be a small corner of that area selling sustenance farm products and jungle produce, which in its own way ensures that the Tamu lives on as it was in the olden days.  The best Tamu to visit are the Tuaran Tamu on Saturdays and Sundays, the Tamparuli Tamu on Wednesdays and Kota Belud Tamu on Sundays. – Sayangsabah.

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