Long Standing Practices among Badjaos — An Early Asian Culture

Carl Byington is an Atlanta, GA-based engineer who has worked for a variety of companies throughout the course of his career. Currently, Carl Byington owns Ellijay, GA-based PHM Design, LLC, specializing in prognostics and health management (PHM) for aircraft and other high-value assets. Carl is an active travel adventurer. He loves exploring and learning about new cultures. Carl has traveled extensively in North America, Europe, South America, Australia, Africa and most recently Asia.

The Badjao culture, found across Maritime Southeast Asia, is a fascinating one. The coral reef deltas of Semporna, Sabah, East Indonesia, and the Southern Philippines are representative locations where a considerable number of Bajau have lived since the late nineteenth century. Their background on culture, beliefs and costume are preserved today. Many Badjao also retain their seaborne lifestyle, along with the remnants of traditional pre-Islamic beliefs.

The Badjao mode of dress, in the traditional attire, is the “patadjong.” It has many uses, and it is purposely large enough to fit any person. The patadjong is used by both men and women as a skirt or gown tucked at the chest. It can also serve as a waistband, sash, head cover, blanket, hammock, shoulder bag, cradle, pouch, hood, or even a pillow. A truly versatile clothing choice for any island to island voyage!

The “sablay” is a loosed sleeved garment worn by women, and a “simpay” (band) forms the front opening and extends to the back from a small collar. A woman’s typical accessories are jewelry and variously colored combs. While the bracelet is the most popular form of jewelry, other pieces such as pendants, earrings, rings, necklaces, and anklets may also be witnessed among this unique ancient Asian culture.

Carl Byington first experienced this culture when he visited Sabah Borneo and climbed the tallest mountain in Southeast Asian — Kota Kinabalu.

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