The dying art of top spinning in Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: Children have played with spinning tops for hundreds of years – they are probably the oldest recorded toy – but in East Malaysia they have made spinning tops into an art form.

In Sabah, particularly in the district of Sipitang, which is located about three hours on land from Kota Kinabalu, the locals used to play the top or gasing in order to improve stamina prior to doing work in the rice fields. It is also a form of entertainment for the community.

Nowadays, top-spinning the gasing serves as a sport that brings the people together to enhance community spirit.

Although the rapid onslaught of information and communication technology looks set to render local cultures obsolete, one such person strives to make sure the gasing does not disappear with time.

Haji Hamit Sadan, 71, has been making the gasing since he was seven years old and learned it from his father.

His idea came when one day while making his way to the jungle at his hometown in Kampung Pantai Lama, Sipitang, he came across a fruit which resembled the shape of a gasing. The Kedayans called it “langguai ambuk”.

As he was curious about the unique shape of the fruit, he tried to spin it and was attracted by how it spun and thought that there had to be a way to make the gasing made out of the langguai ambuk spin perfectly.

He put a stick on the top of the fruit and it really stayed and spun for a longer time. That was how the local Sabah gasing was born.

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