The traditional Savunese house
Savunese house is built on poles and is perceived
of as both a living being and a ship. As
described by Nicodemus Lulu Kana (Dunia Orang
Sawu, 1980) designations such as head, tail,
neck, cheeks, chest and ribs reveal the parallel
with a living being. As well as this
anthropomorphism the front beams are also formed
into the shape of the bow of a perahu
(Indonesian: sailing ship) and the terminology
includes concepts referring to the masts and the
The house comprises three levels,
namely the platform at ground level, the floor
platform, and the loft platform. The floor
platform especially is associated with the perahu
because of the joined curved pieces of wood which
form a half circle. The roof on either side is
characterized by the traditional leaf-neck
associated with the buffalo head.
Kana presents the ship metaphor as the main
ordering principle of the Savunese house, the
buffalo metaphor is also inherent, which makes
this a case of mixed character.
The House in Indonesia
Between Globalization and Localization
By Peter J.M. Nas
Published in Bijdragen voor de Taal-, Land- en
Volkenkunde, vol 154, no 2, pp. 335-360, 1998.
University of Leiden, The
Savunese oral history, when their first Indian
ancestors arrived on the the island, they turned
their sailing ships upside down to shelter
themselves along the coast. Therefor Savunese
named all parts of their traditional houses after
parts of their traditional sailing ships.
Copyright © 2006 Ina
Tali/Francesca Von Reinhaart
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