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The traditional Savunese house

The 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 hull.

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.

Although 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 Netherlands



Ordinary houses

According to 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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