Indonesian Houses: Tradition and Transformation in Vernacular Architecture

The traditional houses and settlements of the several hundred ethnic groups of Indonesia are extremely varied and all have their own unique history. Underlying this rich diversity are fundamental similarities rooted in the ancient heritage that is shared by all the peoples in the Indonesian field of study. The multiplicity of ways in which this heritage is given shape in each local situation bears witness to an amazing creativity in adapting to regional circumstances and social changes.

Inter-ethnic comparison of the architectural structures is a way to arrive at a better understanding of both the shared traditions and the diverging developments. In many cases, the variety of house forms will reflect successful attempts at distinguishing one group’s buildings from those of neighboring groups in an ongoing ethnic process of what could be called ‘mutual contrasting’, albeit sometimes by means of pseudo-traditions which have little to do with indigenous customs of the past.

The contributions to this volume describe approaches to the transformation and variation of houses, present applications of these approaches in case studies of specific Sumatran cultures, widen the perspective through the inclusion of a number of cultures from outside Sumatra (namely from Flores, Sulawesi, Kalimantan, Palu’e, and Roti), and consider settlements. In pursuit of the cultural dimension of houses, the contributions focus on villages and towns, exploring their cosmological and symbolic organization.

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The traditional houses and settlements of the several hundred ethnic groups of Indonesia are extremely varied and all have their own unique history. Underlying this rich diversity are fundamental similarities rooted in the ancient heritage that is shared by all the peoples in the Indonesian field of study. The multiplicity of ways in which this heritage is given shape in each local situation bears witness to an amazing creativity in adapting to regional circumstances and social changes.

Inter-ethnic comparison of the architectural structures is a way to arrive at a better understanding of both the shared traditions and the diverging developments. In many cases, the variety of house forms will reflect successful attempts at distinguishing one group’s buildings from those of neighboring groups in an ongoing ethnic process of what could be called ‘mutual contrasting’, albeit sometimes by means of pseudo-traditions which have little to do with indigenous customs of the past.

The contributions to this volume describe approaches to the transformation and variation of houses, present applications of these approaches in case studies of specific Sumatran cultures, widen the perspective through the inclusion of a number of cultures from outside Sumatra (namely from Flores, Sulawesi, Kalimantan, Palu’e, and Roti), and consider settlements. In pursuit of the cultural dimension of houses, the contributions focus on villages and towns, exploring their cosmological and symbolic organization.

 

Publisher: Singapore University Press

Paperback

2004

ISBN: 9789971692926