Iban Longhouse Architecture

Trace back my posting history, the very last were written back to the end of last year. So this is my 1st posting for the year 2011. I’m sorry for being such a lazy butt but half of the 2011 have been a busy months for me. But anyway, thanks to those who came and stop by my blog though there haven’t been any updates for last 7 months.

Today, I’d like to answer the questions that have been popped in my email for several times, –  Longhouse Archutecture

I’m sorry to keep you waiting (those who asked) – Thus, I recommend that if you have questions that need a quicker response, please ask me via twitter at http://www.twitter.com/AllenCharlie ( @AllenCharlie ).

        One of the common social-cultural characterisrics shared by the indigenous communities of Borneo is their dwelling structure – The longhouse architecture, where a whole village lived under one roof with each family owning individual apartment and its related space. 

I will explain the respective functions of the basic structure of every longhouse.

1. Tanju (Open Gallery):
The space used for this part is mainly for activities that require the use of outdoor and sunshine, such as drying rice, pepper, othet crops and clothes. Here it is also used for ceremonial performances during ritual festivals (Gawai) such as offering (Miring).

2. Ruai (Rofted Gallery):
This is the covered gallery for multi-purpose daily avtivities, such as mending tools, making fishing nets, weaving mats or ceremonial blankets (pua kumbu). It is also a place for meeting, entertaining visitors to the longhouse. It is a sleeping area (Pantar) for unmarried men, and male visitors. Ritual performances are also conducted here, especially for funeral ceremonies (Rabat). It can be said that the ruai is one of the most important aspects of longhouse living that provide space for interactions between residents (Randau Ruai), especially for bringing up children and their schooling in customs and cultures of the community.

3. Tempuan (Common Walkway):
The narrow space that is between the bilek and the ruai that runs lengthwise from one end of the longhouse to the other is known as tempuan. This space is in fact the proper passage-way along the longhouse. It is an accepted practice to walk along this passage rather than use of ruai when one move from one bilek to the otger. The reason for this is that the tempuan is commonly owned, whereas the ruai spaces is individually owned by the family that has the ruai facing their bilek. At the end of the tempuan are the entrances that lead to the house ladders (Tangga Rumah). In the past when rice has to be milled manually, the women folks used the tempuan as a place to husk (Nampi) and pound (Nutuk) the rice.

4. Bilek (Family Apartment)
This is the family room for members to have their meals and privacy, when they wish to be away from the rest of the household. It is the place where the family’s heirloom and properties are kept, such as tajau etc. Married men and women folks sleep in there. Here also is where cooking is done and the family has their meals. In some modern longhouse, the apartment inside is large enough to have several divisions to serve as saperated bedrooms.

5. Sadau (Loft):
The loft is mainly use for storing farm implements and the year’s rice supply of the family. It was used in the past as sleeping place for the family’s young unmarried women. Nowaday, modern longhouses use the loft as family’s bedroom. Some longhouse kept the tradition passed down enemy’s head (Antu Pala) in this area, normally at the loft spaces of the head of the longhouse (Tuai Rumah).

The above are the different sections and individual functions of an Iban longhouse. 

In general, other Borneo’s ethnic longhouses have similiar section and functions. Iban’s longhouse example does give the general outline of longhouse architecture, and a general impression of longhouse living, that are common to all ethnic groups who have adopted the longhouse system.


2 responses to “Iban Longhouse Architecture

  1. Thank for this info.. it gonna be useful for my course..

  2. Rindu bekunsi cherita, isu semasa, enti ku asai patut dikunsi, post kita engka bisi ba blog nggi ku ditu. 🙂 Juluk ati ka ngumpul pemayuh ulih bala blogger Iban =)http://dayakmediablog.blogspot.com/

Kitai Iban sigi patut bekunsika buah penemu ti manah enggau pangan diri, baka ke beduaka lampang rusa, bebagika lampang babi, ngenjuk lampang pelanduk, betetakka lampang bayak. Ngambika utai ti berat tau nyadi lempung, utai simpi tau segala, utai bingkuk tau lurus. Bekunsi kitai buah penemu ti manah enggau pangan diri ngambi ke bansa kitai tau pegari ditemu dunya, bediri sama tinggi, duduk sama pemaruh enggau bansa bukai. - Nadai salah mejah seruri, sigi endang dianti-anti. :)

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