Linangkit, Sabah Borneo Traditional Embroidery

by | May 7, 2018 | 0 comments


Woman enjoying making Linangkit. Photo: Jesse

“Linangkit” is a form of embroidery made by women from several native tribes in Sabah Borneo. In the olden days, the cloth was woven by hands-on back-strap looms and has a limit to certain dimensions. Thus, traditional skirts are usually extended using two pieces of cloth. The purpose of “Linangkit” embroidery is to add decorative features of the costume. While at the same time hiding the seams of the fabrics joining together.


The “Linangkit” embroidery is like the European technique of tatting or frivolity. It is an intricate form of embroidery as you will need to use a needle. From a thin thread, you will need to loop it into many interconnecting of identical knots. Continue to weave the identical knots until it produces a strong, long and thick fabric. The knee-length skirt, circular sash and men’s trousers are all decorated with “Linangkit”.

In Sabah Borneo, several tribes create the “Linangkit” with different pattern and color. To which the pattern and color are portraying their own cultural identity. “Linangkit” is not just a piece of fabric or clothing. It represents the ancient heritage, knowledge, and tradition that was pass down by their ancestors.


Colourful and intircate designs of Linangkit on the dress


The design of Dusun Lotud’s traditional costume

You can find the “Linangkit” embroidery in the northern and west-coast part of Sabah Borneo. The Dusun Lotud people from Tuaran district is well-known for being a skillful weaver. Their traditional costume is one of the most elegant costumes in Sabah Borneo.  

Apart from that, there are other terms of “Linangkit”. For Rungus people of Kudat, they called it Rinangkit. They usually design the pattern of Rinangkit based on the elements of their daily lives. Such as:

  • Butterflies
  • People
  • Pythons
  • Leaves
  • Stars
  • Shells and more

Linangkit on Rungus costume


Linangkit design on Bajau costume

For Bajau people of Kota Belud, they called it berangkit. It is a long and wide band of berangkit that is in front of a long black matrimonial skirt. Bajau people prefer to create the berangkit with nature that represents a new life. The berangkit on the bridal costume is designed with cotton flower and bamboo shoot motifs.


The design of Kadazan Papar traditional costume

For Kadazan people from Papar, they called it langkit. They decorate the langkit embroidery on the knee-length part of the black skirts. But, the origin of the “Linangkit” embroidery is from the Maranao and Magindanao people of Mindanao Island in the Philippines. They too refer the needlecraft as langkit and it also bears the same purpose – decorates and joining two seams.

If you are interested to learn more on “Linangkit” embroidery, there is cultural village which is located in Tuaran, roughly one hour drive from the Kota Kinabalu City. Apart from learning more on the “Linangkit” embroidery, you can get personally acquainted with the Lotud people at the “Linangkit” Cultural Village, where you can experience their daily activities and taste the local delicacies. There are several cultural villages that you should visit when you are in Sabah Borneo, feel free to read our choices of cultural villages tour in Sabah Borneo.

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