Beautiful Minang House, on the road to Solok, Sumatra
I doubt anyone could travel through Sumatra and not be totally taken by the beauty of the spired roof houses (the “Rumah Bagonjong”) typical of Minangkabau culture. These iconic looking long house dwellings have become a well known symbol of Indonesian heritage and are often mimicked in the architecture of Indonesian government and embassy buildings around the globe.
Miang Long Houses ooze with tradition. Forged by the capable hands of experienced carpenters, many of these buildings are painstakingly decorated with brightly painted floral carvings and looked after obsessively by their owners.
Prominent upswept gables are easy on the eye and make the buildings appear as if reaching for the sky or suspended in air by virtue of invisible threads. The effect is completely captivating, stunning, beautiful.
Solok is close to Padang on the centra western coast of Sumatra ( licensed, Creative Commons )
The village of Solok, not far from the port town of Padang (west coast of Sumatra), is well known for the abundance of Minang long house home it has. Some of these are well over sixty years of age, appear plain with no adornment and perhaps in need of a little attention but others are cherished and beautifully well kept.
Minang Long House
Riding past these homes on my motorbike I couldn’t help feeling as though I were in some kind wonderland, a fairy tale.
It got to the point that I could no longer contain my curiosity, I simply had to find out what these homes looked like inside. I pulled up and parked my bike in front of a large long house with an elderly looking woman sitting outside. In my best half broken Bahasa I asked if I could take a quick peep inside her home. To my astonishment, I was invited inside.
Creecking floor boards, and dim lighting accompanied me through the entrance. As I lifted my gaze inside I found a beutifully kept “log cabin” style home with leather armchairs, pictures, hanging on walls, mats and rugs on the floor. A kitchen was at on end of the open plan interior and there were individual sleeping compartments behind the lounge area. Everything seemed meticulously well kept and gleaming clean.
I was amazed to be invited inside…
Three kids rushed towards me beaming from the kitchen to say hello. The elderly lady from outside smiled and watched me as I strolled around with my camera. It felt homely, warm and cosy, lovely.
Surprisingly local society in western Sumatra is matriarchal meaning that the long houses are passed from mother to daughter, from one generation to the next. The upkeep is phenomenal though with constant maintenance required to keep the timber protected from the elements.
Beautiful Minang House on the outskirts to Solok
The costs involved in building a “Rumah Bagonjong” over the years have become prohibitive as has the price and availability of quality timber. Today a new Minang style homes are no longer affordable for the masses in a rapidly developing Sumatra but there are many old style homes to restore. Some have been transformed into guest houses that offer inviting accommodation for tourists.
Of course I absolutely recommend a trip to Solok if you’re ever travelling through Sumatra. Keep camera in hand and prepare to be dumbstruck by the place.
Minang grand house in Solok
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