West Papua offers expansive and majestic beauty, and it is shown on its traditional houses. The people build their house based upon particular philosophical purposes. Besides, these houses are commonly made of natural materials and built traditionally.
One of them is well-built by Arfak tribe. They live approximately 2,940 meters above the sea level and have their uniqueness as part of Papuan culture to preserve. There are also other fascinating traditional houses in West Papua. Dig deep into our list below.
Mod Aki Aksa or Lgkojei
In the local language, Mod Aki Aksa or Lgkojei means centipede or an animal with a thousand legs. Get more informed about the house below.
Mod Aki Aksa is built high from the ground level. The stilts and its relatively indoor design are used to protect the people from wild animals and extreme weather, like storms and too low mountain temperature. The house also protects the family members from local quarrels and attacks from enemies as it eases them to monitor with highly-built location and two-door access for entrance and exit. It is also said that Mod Aki Aksa is built high with many stilts to protect the people from dark magic.
Design and Building Structure
Mod Aki Aksa is called as a centipede house or a house with a thousand legs because it is built with many stilts. Strong big logs are twisted and well-built for its basic foundation. The other cylinder logs as the walls are put together horizontally and vertically by using wood fiber and rattan to strengthen the building. Each stilt is 30 cm in diameter and only spares 30 cm apart from each other. The floor is made of woven rattan or widened wood skin, while the roof is made of straw or sago leaf.
The traditional house is 4-5 meters high and 8×6 meters wide, with the floor approximately one meter above the ground level. The deeper the location of the house in the mountains, the higher the house. It can even reach 4 meters high.
The house only has two doors, the front and back doors, without any windows. It is generally divided into two parts, ngimsi for women and ngimdi for men.
The world has changed today. Transmigration happens a lot, and Mod Aki Aksa becomes hard to find. The traditional house is still familiar for several indigenous tribes in central Arfak Mountains, Manokwari, West Papua. These tribes include Hatam, Moille, Meyakh, and Sough.
Tree House of Korowai
Another unique traditional house comes from the Korowai tribe. Here is the overview.
Korowai tribe builds their house high above the ground level to protect themselves from mosquitos, wild animals, and dark spirit called Laleo. Some sources note that Laleo is stranger or outsider who doesn’t belong to the tribe. The higher the house is, the safer the people will be. Besides, the tree house is built high as it is a heritage from their ancestors, and it also gives them particular convenience.
Design and Building Structure
Unlike Mod Aki Aksa which reaches approximately 4 meters above the ground level, Korowai Tree House can be 15 to 50 meters above. The people carefully choose the logs as they only pick the big and strong ones. The edge of the logs is removed and then shaped to be the roof made of sago leaf. The materials used for the walls and floor are small logs for the structure. The house is 7×10 meter wide, and it has room dividers and pointed doors—one for men and another for women.
The process of the building only requires the available materials without any modern tool needed, and it may take up to seven days. Before starting, Korowai people usually hold special tribe ceremony to protect them from the dark spirit or Laleo. The clean space has two to three tree houses with ladders made of branches and rope. The house can survive for only three years due to its natural materials.
Although placed high above the ground, the house is also completed with clay fireplace hanged over open space to make an easy cut for being thrown outside if the flame grows too big.
The people who live in the high tree house are from the Korowai tribe, West Papua. They are unique because of their distinctive rituals and beliefs. Unfortunately, the Korowais now are only about three thousand people, so their unique traditional tree house is rare, too.
Wamai is generally a cage house for animals, like roosters, hens, dogs, pigs, etc. It is placed a bit far from their main house, but there can be many Wamai around the same area. The design is flexible, depending on the animals to breed and the number of animals they have.
Those are several traditional houses in West Papua. These houses are made of natural materials, and it philosophically symbolizes how close the people live with nature. Modernization can’t really be avoided, but the culture must remain existing to preserve.