This project seeks to document the material knowledge system of a unique hand needle-weaving technique generally known as linangkit (Regis 1996, 2019). The linangkit technique uses a needle and threads to create a system of tiny intricately connected identical knots to form a dense fabric of colourful motifs, which are used on the costumes of several Indigenous groups in Sabah, who adopt different customary motifs, colour schemes and techniques according to their Indigenous beliefs and distinct cultural identities. The practice of linangkit is under severe threat as Indigenous peoples opt for less laborious and cheaper alternatives. With the demise of elderly womenfolk who were prolific producers of the craft, linangkit may soon be no longer practised.

The project will undertake a detailed cultural mapping of linangkit to understand where and how it is currently practised. Through the object analysis of representative heirloom examples and interviews with living master craftswomen, owners and users, it seeks to understand the distinct motifs, stylistic expressions, colour schemes and techniques associated with different ethnic groups, their legends, taboos and socio-cultural symbolism as well as how the linangkit craft is historically produced and transmitted as a methodology to trace its origins and evolution.

The project is important as craft documentation, and for understanding the origins of linangkit and the role of material culture in identity creation. By tracing the changing values, functions and meanings of linangkit over time and space, this project will examine the intricate relationship between craft production and social change in Indigenous societies in Sabah.


Yunci Cai

Judeth John Baptist
Patricia Regis
Jacqueline Pugh-Kitingan

Location of Research:
Sabah, Malaysia

Host Institution:
University of Leicester, United Kingdom


Top Banner Image: The Lotud gonob (skirt) featuring bininting (vertical seam panel) of linodi offerings, piniutu (offering tray), nabur-abur (star) and small alternative olinsong sadur (watermelon seed) motifs. (Photo: Judeth John Baptist)