Sompoton or Sumpotan, is a mouth organ made from a gourd with bamboo pipes in northern Borneo.[1] It originated in the state of Sabah and is played by both male and female indigenous people in Sabah, especially by the Kadazan-Dusun and Murut.[2][3][4]

An example of a Murut sompoton, exhibited in Wisma Warisan Sandakan, 1st floor, in the former British North Borneo Museum.
Classification Mouth organ
DevelopedNorthern Borneo: Sabah, Malaysia


A sompoton consists of eight pieces of bamboo pipe inserted into a dried gourd sealed with bees wax, which serves as a wind chamber. Unlike a bamboo flute, which is a straight pipe, the sompoton is a 'mouth organ' as it contains vibrating reeds. Curiously, also unlike a flute which is played only by expelled air; a sompoton can be played by both inhalation and exhalation. In Kota Kinabalu, capital of Sabah, at the Filipino crafts market one is likely to find 'ornamental sompotons' with only two reeds; but at the Sabah Cultural Centre one finds completely functional/playable sompotons with the full complement of 7 reeds. Traditionally, the individual pipes have their own names, such as lombohon, monongkol, suruk, baranat, randawi, tuntuduk and tinangga.[5]

See also


  1. D. Ohrnberger (29 January 1999). The Bamboos of the World: Annotated Nomenclature and Literature of the Species and the Higher and Lower Taxa. Elsevier. pp. 304–. ISBN 978-0-08-054238-6.
  2. Sabah: history and society. Malaysian Historical Society. 1981.
  3. "Sompoton". New Sabah Times. p. 14. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  4. Elaine Lee (2006). Ethnic musical instruments of Malaysia. Win Publication.
  5. Ong Chen Wei and Jedol Dayou (25 September 2009). "Frequency Characteristics of Sound from Sompoton Musical Instrument" (PDF). School of Science and Technology. Universiti Malaysia Sabah. pp. 71–72. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
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