Thursday, January 17

the traditional sumbanese house

While bricks, concrete and tin are the aspiration of most villagers in our region of Indonesia, a traditional house within a family complex is still revered in western Sumba.  It is estimated that over a third of the population adhere to the ancient animist Marapu beliefs, while the remainder claim to be Christian (however often weave traditional practices into their life).  The social structure is organised around the ancestral home and the patrilineal family that descends from it. The houses are raised on stilts with a high pitched grass roof that acts as a chimney stack for the central hearth. The projecting wooden beams on the roof pitch are believed to be the entrance point for ancestors to enter and bless the inhabitants. The simple interior is dark and stained black with soot. Bamboo platforms around the perimeter serve as beds and altars where sacred objects of the Marapu, and scant personal belongings are kept. Beneath the floor is a shady space for weaving ikat cloth, winnowing grain and keeping animals. The house is not simple a dwelling place, but a "symbol of the cosmos linking the divine world to that of man."  You don't get that with your average spec home.

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