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The Architecture of Life and Death in Borneo

Robert L. Winzeler

Publication Year: 2004

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.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press


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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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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..."

Part One: Traditional Forms

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Chapter One The Built Environment of the Interior: An Overview

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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..."

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Chapter Two The Longhouse

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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."

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Chapter Three The Architectural Symbolism of Life and Death

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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..."

Part Two: Modern Transformations

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Chapter Four The Development of Bidayuh Architecture

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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..."

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Chapter Five Two Patterns of Change

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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..."

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Chapter Six Modern Uses and the Future of Indigenous Architecture

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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 inot their embellishment."


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pp. 183-191


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pp. 192-198

List of Sources and Credits

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pp. 199-200


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pp. 201-208

E-ISBN-13: 9780824864590
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824826321

Publication Year: 2004