The Architecture of Life and Death in Borneo

The Architecture of Life and Death in Borneo

ROBERT L. WINZELER
Copyright Date: 2004
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt6wqs0v
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  • Book Info
    The Architecture of Life and Death in Borneo
    Book Description:

    Among Borneo's spectacular indigenous buildings, the longhouses, mortuary monuments, and other architectural forms of the interior are some of the most outstanding, and much of the renewed interest in indigenous architecture has focused on the rapidly vanishing or now extinct traditional forms of a small number of surviving examples or recreations. Drawing on the author's extensive research and travel in Borneo, this impressive and original study offers a more comprehensive account of this architecture than any previous work. Organized into two sections, the book first documents and explains traditional built forms in terms of tools and materials, the environmental context, village organization, and social arrangements. This section includes a full discussion of architecture designs and symbolism, especially those dealing with life and death. The author next looks at the destruction or transformation of traditional architecture based on a number of interrelated developments, including religious conversion, Western influence, internal migration, and logging, as well as governmental attitudes and efforts. The book concludes with a discussion of recent efforts to document and preserve traditional structures and turn indigenous as well as colonial architecture into history and heritage.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6459-0
    Subjects: History, Architecture and Architectural History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. V-VI)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-16)

    OVER THE LAST SEVERAL DECADES the indigenous architecture of Southeast Asia has drawn a degree of interest not present in Borneo at least since the latter half of the nineteenth century, when the great longhouses, mausoleums, and other built forms of the interior attracted the attention of many outsiders.¹ Much of the renewed interest in these architectural forms has been focused on the rapidly vanishing or now extinct traditional versions known mainly from photos and illustrations of earlier periods or from a small number of surviving examples or re-creations. The present-day traveler who visits Borneo and sets out to see...

  5. PART ONE: TRADITIONAL FORMS
    • CHAPTER ONE THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT OF THE INTERIOR: AN OVERVIEW
      (pp. 19-48)

      THE TRADITIONAL ARCHITECTURE of the interior peoples of Borneo includes longhouses and other multifamily dwellings, single-family houses, granaries, storage sheds, farmhouses, bridges and walkways, river docks, and platforms. Among some groups there is also a widespread and often elaborate mortuary architecture of burial posts and mausoleums, as well as of statuary, ceremonial poles and various other ritual structures, and (in some areas) men’s houses.

      With the partial exception of mortuary architecture, the main location of buildings and other structures in Borneo is the clustered village; the dispersed and ribbon settlement patterns found in some rural areas today appear to be...

    • CHAPTER TWO THE LONGHOUSE
      (pp. 49-78)

      IN HIS JOURNAL ENTRY of September 1, 1839, James Brooke described a Sea Dayak (Iban) longhouse at a place he called Tunggang on the Lundu River, about two days’ travel by boat to the west of Kuching. Brooke had been taken to visit the village after asking his Malay hosts in Kuching to see some of the Dayak towns in the area. The inhabitants were said to be “Sibnowan” Dayaks—that is, Sebuyau Iban who had migrated to the Kuching and Lundu areas from the Sebuyau River (a tributary of the lower Batang Lupar to the northeast of Kuching, in...

    • CHAPTER THREE THE ARCHITECTURAL SYMBOLISM OF LIFE AND DEATH
      (pp. 79-106)

      INTERIOR BORNEAN PEOPLES make use of carving or painting in the construction of longhouses, mausoleums and mortuary posts, storehouses, and other buildings, although there is a great deal of variation in the extent to which this is done. The building traditions of some groups involve considerable purposeful embellishment, while those of many others include a minimal amount of carving and little or no painting. In northern Borneo the most common forms of architectural carving appear to be the sculpting of guarding figures on the notched-log ladders used to enter longhouses and on the slab doors of longhouse apartments. The tops...

  6. PART TWO: MODERN TRANSFORMATIONS
    • CHAPTER FOUR THE DEVELOPMENT OF BIDAYUH ARCHITECTURE
      (pp. 109-127)

      BEFORE WE CONSIDER ARCHITECTURAL CHANGE in more general terms in the next chapter, it is worth examining what has occurred among the Bidayuh in some detail. The built forms of the various Bidayuh peoples have by now undergone a great deal of change. In most areas many of the older buildings are gone as a result of shifts away from previous village sites and the adoption of modern building types and materials. The more traditional forms are still evident, however, in a few places, especially in the more rugged and remote regions along the border in the Bau and Padawan...

    • CHAPTER FIVE TWO PATTERNS OF CHANGE
      (pp. 128-153)

      THE ARCHITECTURAL CHANGES that are taking place among the interior peoples of Borneo are similar in some respects to those occurring among tribal or small-scale societies throughout the world. Such peoples are generally modifying their traditional house forms in the direction of those of influential surrounding or outside groups or toward forms that reflect urban, regional, national, or broader styles. In many places people are of course severely affected by restrictions on access to traditional building materials, as well as by poverty. Many have no houses at all or must do with whatever forms of shelter they can find or...

    • CHAPTER SIX MODERN USES AND THE FUTURE OF INDIGENOUS ARCHITECTURE
      (pp. 154-182)

      THE FIRST—AND FOR MANY THE ONLY—view that visitors get of what passes for indigenous Bornean architecture is of various model houses and other buildings that are constructed as part of museums or cultural centers in or near the main urban centers. Visitors may also in some places see government buildings that (as they may or may not realize) have incorporated various indigenous designs into their basic form or into their embellishment. For those who venture somewhat beyond the larger towns there are other opportunities, including tourist longhouses, with all the modern comforts and conveniences, and in some areas,...

  7. NOTES
    (pp. 183-191)
  8. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 192-198)
  9. LIST OF SOURCES AND CREDITS
    (pp. 199-200)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 201-208)