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West Sumatra Traditional House & Characteristics + Explanation (Complete)

West Sumatra is one of the provinces in Indonesia located between 0 ° 54 'NU and 3 ° 30' S and between 98 ° 36 'E and 101 ° 53' E.

West Sumatra Province is bordered by North Sumatra Province and Riau in the North; Indian Ocean in the West; Jambi Province and South Sumatra Province in the South, and Jambi and Bengkulu Provinces in the East.

West Sumatra Province is home to the Minangkabau ethnic group. However, it should also be understood that the West Sumatra region includes the Mentawai Islands.

Therefore, various cultural arts including music, traditional dance, traditional weapons, food, sports, and traditional houses in West Sumatra are not only very thick with the Minangkabau but also its Mentawai.

Traditional House of West Sumatra

The Province of West Sumatra actually has two kinds of traditional houses namely the Minangkabau traditional house and the Mentawai traditional house. This is due to the West Sumatra region which also includes the Mentawai Islands located in the Indian Ocean. Thus, West Sumatra is not only a home for ethnic Minangkabau but also ethnic Mentawai and other ethnic groups.

Minangkabau traditional houses are known as gadang houses or bagonjang houses or baanjung houses. Meanwhile, the Mentawai traditional house is called uma or longhouse. The forms of the two traditional houses are designed in accordance with local climatic conditions and topographic conditions.

Each custom house has its own characteristics and uniqueness related to the architectural form and function.

A. Distinctive Features and Uniqueness

Both Minangkabau traditional house or gadang house or Mentawai traditional house or uma has its own characteristics related to the architectural form and function of the house. The following is a brief review.

1. Rumah gadang

 Traditional House of West Sumatra (Rumah Gadang)

The architectural form of the gadang house is as follows.

Built on family-owned land

Gadang houses are generally built in on land owned by the parent family in the tribe or kaun from generation to generation.

Shaped rectangular and stage-like

The gadang house is generally rectangular in shape and divided into two parts, the front and the back. The length of the gadang house is between 12.5 meters to 59.5 meters. The width of the gadang house is 10 to 14 meters.

The gadang house also has a floor height of around 2.5 to 3.5 meters and a ceiling height of about 5 to 7 meters from the ground. Like Traditional House of Lamin the gadang house is also shaped like a stage. This Minangkabau traditional house was built using wooden pegs. Even so, these pegs have a strong tie.

Made of wood and bamboo

Minangkabau traditional gadang or traditional houses are generally made of wood. The wood made by the house is adapted to the condition of the wood. For example, curved wood for the ridge of traditional houses and small wood for the stake. To tie the wood into a house, pegs are also made of wood and not nails. Even so, this peg has a strong tie. Meanwhile, long bamboo is used for water vessels and short bamboo for perian.


Gadang's roof is made of palm fiber. The shape of the roof of a gadang house resembles a buffalo horn called the gonjong. The roof of the gadang house also consists of curved lines which means how friendly the Minangkabau people are. However, over time, the roof of the gadang house was slowly replaced by zinc.


A good gadang house must have columns made of trees collected only by members of one large family course, also must be cut and brought if possible without the help of other family members. The head of the family installs or installs the first column and he must be the first to bring the stairs into the house.


Gadang's floor is made of wooden or bamboo boards. From the floor to the left and right ends of the floor are usually elevated one to two levels. The two-storey raised floor is called anjung and has several functions, among others, as a place for women to do their weaving, used to receive guests at traditional ceremonies or parties, where people sit and sleep, and for the sick. Pails are usually shorter than the width of the house and number no more than six pieces.


Walls and beams of wall-makers are installed by not using nails but by using pegs and pinning techniques. The walls of the gadang house are usually filled with carvings. Maintenance of the walls of the house is done by using "sasak bugih" which is woven bamboo lining the outside walls and the backs of buildings that are not carved.


Windows in gadang houses are usually found at the ends and sides of the front. . In other parts of the house such as the back wall of buildings and rooms with no windows.


The entrance to the gadang house is located on the axle which divides the two buildings symmetrically. Door openings are similar to window openings, namely in.


Around the gadang house complex, a surau is usually built as a place of worship and a residence for unmarried adult males. [19659002] Basic motives

Some opinions state that the basic motive of the gadang house is a boat. Four gongs are four headlines on the bow and stern of the boat. The headline in the middle is the boat display. Another opinion states that the basic motif of the roof of a traditional house is from the Minang history itself. With the word "kabau", the traditional house gonjong is taken from the basic form of buffalo horn. The curved lines of buffalo horns are pieces of the roof line of Minang houses.

Building patterns

Based on the customary or harmony system adopted, in West Sumatra, especially in Minangkabau there are two types of gadang building styles namely Koto Piliang Harmony. and Chaniago's Bodily Harmony. The harmony of the Koto Piliang has aristocratic, flattering, and flocking characteristics. Meanwhile, the Chaniago Bodi Alignment has a democratic, unambiguous, and swirling sound.

Based on the region, namely the inland and coastal areas, there are two types of buildings. In rural areas the shape and construction of buildings is more complicated than in coastal areas. This is influenced by the character of the people in each region.

2. Mentawai traditional house or Uma

 West Sumatra Traditional House of Mentawai

Uma architectural forms are as follows.

Shaped stage

Mentawai traditional house or uma shaped house a wooden platform with a floor height of one meter from the ground. The uma house is 30 meters long, 10 meters wide and 7 meters high. Under the house or under the house functioned as a stable for livestock, especially pigs.

Built without nails

Like a gadang house, this uma house was built using no nails but wooden pegs and notched cross-linking systems.


Uma roof is made of sago palm which is a roof covering material derived from sago palm leaves. This tree usually grows in swamps or on the beach.

Shared together

Uma houses are usually shared by five to ten families of the same descendant.

Consists of several parts

The uma house consists of several parts, namely the main room and ribs. The main room or Lalep is a room that functions as a residence for a husband and wife whose marriage is legalized by adat. This main room is usually located inside the uma house. While ribs are a room specifically intended for young children, widows for shelter, and those who are exiled because they violate the Mentawai tribal rules.


Ornaments or uma decorations are heavily influenced by Indian culture in the form of tendrils in the form of plants with leaves and flowers.


Ornaments commonly found in uma are the skulls of monkeys and deer that are hung along with wooden decorations. The main decoration that must be in the uma is a bird statue made of wood and hung in the middle of the house. The bird statue is a toy for spirits who come to visit uma.

B. Function of the house

The main function of the gadang house is as a family residence. The other function of the gadang house is as a symbol of the presence of one people in a nagari and as a center of life and harmony such as a place for agreeing with the families of the people and carrying out ceremonies and a place to care for sick family members.

Meanwhile, as a Mentawai traditional house, the uma functions as a place to live, hold meetings, carry out traditional ceremonies, and as a place to heal sick family members.

A brief discussion of the traditional house of West Sumatra. May be useful. Thank you.


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