Visual Research: Tamparuli Tamu

Another interesting illustrated book written and illustrated by Tina Rimmer called The Tamparuli Tamu. This book is a good source of visual research as I am able to see the art style and the way how Rimmer portrays the Tamu in Tamparuli. (Tamparuli is a small town and a sub-district of Tuaran on the west coast of Sabah, Malaysia)

Rimmer puts he focus on illustrating the local native people through observing them while they were doing their weekly trading and what’s fascinating about this book is I am also able to get a better understanding on the lifestyles of the native people by studying their poses, movements and actions. It is also a very straight to the point way to show readers on how a scene in a Tamu looked like.


The Tamparuli Tamu by Tina Rimmer


Fig 1. Medicine, music and massage


Fig 2. Different type of fruits and also the traditional sacks carried by the native people.


Fig 3. Squatting poses by the native women. This is also a typical scene in Tamu.


Fig 4. Native women


Fig 4. Portraits of native women


Rimmer, T. (1999) The Tamparuli Tamu: A Sabah Market. The Sabah Society

Available at:


FAT1 Project

For my FAT1 project, I have selected my keyword ‘Authentic’ as a start of point in this project. I plan to create a mini booklet to promote the local open market in my hometown, Sabah Borneo. In this open market, there are quite a number of authentic goods that are being sold there. While the indigenous people are familiar with the goods, there are still some (especially tourist and non-local people) who are still unaware of these unique authentic goods. These authentic goods truly represent the Kadazandusun people in my hometown and since these goods are not mass produced to the big markets, it can only be found in the open market, which the locals fondly called it ‘Tamu’.

I’ve created 3 possible spreads for this booklet, with the idea of making the spreads to have a raw-like feel to it hence the technique that I’ve used is more traditional (ie. drawing, painting & handlettering). The colour mood for this booklet is also vibrant as to represent the people and the environment of the open market. I personally feel my concept and the linkage of my keyword still seem a little bit ‘loose’ although my tutor Kerry mentioned that the whole idea is workable. I am planning to continue this project in FAT2, but probably will go into a different direction in terms of the art style.



Tamu Day

I am back in my hometown for a couple of days not exactly for a holiday but to attend an old primary school friend’s wedding reception. My hometown in in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah (North Borneo) and since I am currently staying and working in Petaling Jaya, it takes 2 and a half hours to reach my hometown by flight. SInce I am back here, I thought it would be a great chance for me to make a visit to the public library and take some spare time to continue on with my R&E assignment there. But before I went to the library, I made a short detour and visited the ‘Tamu’ (pronounced “Tah-moo”) which is a weekly open air market where the local people here (mostly from the indegenious group) come to sell and buy goods.

According to this info that I got from

As many distant parts of the world, the exotic island of Borneo and especially the Malaysian state of Sabah has its own distinct cultural traditions and customs, most of them extremely enticing for foreign visitors. Part of the heritage of Sabah, the tamu is an old practice dating back from colonial times, when the British allowed the locals to exchange produce in open markets throughout North Borneo.

A custom regulated by the British during the times North Borneo was a colony, the tamu is also a social gathering, importance announcement and special celebration are held at Tamu as it is a most effective tool for distributing news to the distant interior, and to receiving reports from those far outposts. While the Tamu markets in Kota Kinabalu and other major cities have become tourist attractions and lost some of their authenticity, for the real experience, visitors should visits the ones in smaller towns and distant villages.

Today, the tamu is a fascinating experience, a veritable immersion into the local culture of Sabah, discovering part of the charm that the old world must have had. Walking among people from various tribes, farmers, fishers and hunters, craftsmen and artisans, one can see the real everyday life of Sabah, meet the authentic people and their traditions. It is also a great place to buy authentic products and exotic food ingredients, a place to socialize with the locals and explore the colorful culture of the destination.

My mother, who used to a be librarian, has now retired and became a part of the ‘tamu’ community where she also sell goods that are produced from our own home. She told me that it is always nice to observe all these local people come from different towns and be in this market every week, to see what goods do they have to sell, to observe their living lifestyle. As I get older, I believe my appreciation towards this tradition is much bigger compared to the days when I was still in my teenage years. It is always great to see how the community still enjoy visiting the ‘tamu’ and buy their goods from there instead of only going to the supermarket. I can see that we still can be a community that will support the local people and at the same time to preserve this beautiful heritage. Although the world is leaning towards commercialism, I believe there is so much we can do to continue this tradition and still make it one of a kind. Younger generations should be aware that traditions can eventually evolve or change hence preserving it is important. We can always find fresh and new idea to do it…which is the reason why I am interested in looking through this in my research as well.











All photos are taken by me using Iphone 5

I Love Sabah (
visited on 23/10/2014