The Surprising Benefits of Traditional West Papua Architecture and Design

west papua

There are so many interesting things about West Papua. Not only the heart-stopping natural beauty and biodiversity, but West Papua is also rich in its cultures.

West Papua is home to so many indigenous tribes; some remain untouchable due to the remote area.

Each of the tribes’ cultures offers its own uniqueness and beauty. Some of them are their traditional architecture and designs.

West Papua has numerous traditional houses with surprising benefits like climate adaption, cultural identity, sustainable design, to community cohesion.

Keep reading this article to learn more about the astonishing advantages of traditional West Papua architecture and design.

The Uniqueness and Philosophy of the West Papua Traditional House

The uniqueness of West Papua culture can’t only be seen in their traditional clothes but also their traditional houses.

One of the most appealing features of West Papua’s traditional architecture and designs is the use of natural materials. That is why almost all these houses are environmentally friendly.

Besides that, another signature of the traditional West Papua houses is that each design carries its own philosophy, impression, and benefits. Let’s find out together.

Benefits of Traditional West Papua Architecture and Design

The diversity and uniqueness of West Papua have become a special attraction and characteristic of this Island. The followings are some of the traditional Papuan houses and their uniqueness.

1. Honai

Who hasn’t heard about Honai? Honai is probably the most popular traditional house in West Papua.

Viewed in language terms, Honai is taken from two words, Hun and Ai. Hun means adult male, and Ai means House.

Honai is limited to adult men only. Honai has circular walls made of sturdy wood. The woods are sharpened and plugged into the ground so it stands tall.

The blunt conical roof is meant to decrease the cold and prevent rainwater from falling directly into the walls.

2. Ebei

Ebei has the same design as Honai. If Honai is used for adult males, Ebei is for adult females and infant boys. Ebei consists of two words, Ebe and Ai.

Ebe means body, and Ai means woman. The name means that women are the body for life as they give birth to a new life.

Ebei has a deep philosophy for the Dani tribes (who occupy Honai and Ebei).

The circle shape of this house represents oneness and solid unity. In Ebei, mothers also teach their children important things about life before they marry and the boys grow up.

3. Hunila

Hunila has a longer and wider size than Honai or Ebei. This West Papua house stores many kinds of food and cooking utensils.

It is because Hunila’s function is as a public kitchen. Several Honai and Ebei usually share one Hunila.

In Hunila, women will cook sago or sweet potato. They later deliver the dishes to Pilamo and the rest of their family.

4. Wamai

Wamai is use as a livestock barn. From the outside, Wamai almost looks like Honai. Yet, Wamai’s walls are not circular.

Sometimes, the walls of Wamai are rectangular, and some are square. The shape and size also vary, suiting the number of livestock to put in this house.

5. Kariwari

Kariwari is the traditional house of the Tobati-Enggros tribes. What makes Kariwari unique is its roof. It has an octagonal pyramid-shaped roof up to three levels.

The octagonal shape has several meanings. First, it can strengthen the construction from all kinds of weather.

The octagon shape with a sharp edge also symbolizes the connection between humans and God or their ancestors who have already passed away.

This house was build for West Papua educational and religious purposes.

6. Rumsram

Rumsram is the traditional house of the Biak Numfor tribe on the north coast of West Papua.

Rumsram’s roof looks like an overturned boat because most of the people in the Biak Numfor tribe are sailors.

This house is only use to educate boys who are consider to be stepping into adulthood.

Looking at the construction, Rumsram’s height reaches six to eight meters, and it has two floors. The walls are made of water bamboo and sago fronds, while the floors are covered with bark.

Those are the uniqueness, function, and philosophy of some of West Papua architecture and design.

Each of the traditional houses has its own benefits and uniqueness adapted to how the people live.