Honai Houses

Traditional House of Honai , construction of typical houses originating in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, in the Oceania region. This type of house is known as the Honai Traditional House

The Honai house villages were first discovered in 1938, on an expedition by American explorer Richard Archbold.

What is a Honai House?

The Honai Houses are typical wooden cabins, where indigenous Papuan tribes live, on the island shared by Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

traditional house honai papua new guinea
Honai Houses

Shaped like a cylinder (on the walls) and cone (on the roof), the traditional Honai huts (rumah adat Honai) are built from wood, reeds and dry straw, organic materials that are readily available in their natural environment.

Location of Honai Houses

However, the traditional Honai house has only one shape, although different tribes, languages ​​and lifestyles coexist within it. 

Papua New Guinea and Indonesia share a common land border strip, both countries having similar characteristics and cultures.

Indonesia, in Oceania
Location of houses Honai, Indonesia and Papau New Guinea
Location of houses Honai, Indonesia and Papau New Guinea.

For centuries, this type of traditional housing has been built in the valleys and mountains of central Papua, specifically in the Baliem Valley, Wamena Valley and Toli Mountains.

In this region, which is made up of two bordering countries, there are more than 300 indigenous tribes, with more than 100,000 original inhabitants. However, not all areas of Papua have the richness of this traditional construction.

Indonesia and Papua New Guinea
Indonesia and Papau New Guinea share a common border.

Some villages where Honai houses have been built are located almost 2000 meters above mean sea level, so strong winds and cold temperatures at night (10 to 15 degrees Celcius) have greatly influenced the original design of the house. honai.

Culture Characteristics

The culture that gave rise to the Honai huts has a variety of distinctive and unique characteristics, depending on its region or province.

Characteristics of Honai houses
Dani tribe village

Among the tribes that build these traditional huts are the Dani tribe and the Lani tribe, which are indigenous Papuan tribes. All of them have their own traditional songs and customs. When entering and leaving the house, it is customary to bow.

Several Honai houses were used to preserve mummies. This activity can be found in areas of Keluru Village and Aikima Village, the most famous mummy sites in the Baliem Valley.

indigenous Papuans in Honai houses

The Rumah Honai are a cultural symbol of the personality and self-esteem of the Dani people. This type of traditional construction is maintained and preserved by their descendants.

The government of Papua New Guinea contributes every year, a percent of the state budget for the conservation and autonomy of these original peoples.

Forms and Architecture of the Honai Cabins

The architecture of the Honai houses can be seen from the outside, like a large mushroom. 

The layout of a traditional Honai house is usually on two levels, with a height of 2 to 2.5 meters. Four wooden logs act as main pillars and support the upper floor. The ground floor and the first floor are connected by stairs made of bamboo.

rumah honai traditional honai house
typical Honai house

The ground floor is used as a place to relax, eat and do crafts. The second level is used as a bed.

In order to protect themselves from animal attacks and low temperatures at night, they are built with a small door and no windows. A Honai house can be inhabited by 5 to 10 people.

The interior design is very rudimentary and is made up of 2 spaces, the ground floor and the second level. Towards the center of the ground floor there is an oven that is used for cooking and space heating. At the same time, it is a meeting place for families.

Honai houses, of the indigenous Paues
Huts Honai, Papua New Guinea.

Honai houses are also made of natural materials that can be renovated, from wooden frames, woven walls to roofs made of eco-friendly materials. The floor of a Honai house is usually covered with straw and dry leaves.

Types of Traditional Honai Houses

Honai traditional house has three types of buildings. The three traditional houses have differences in terms of use. 

  1. Traditional hut for men, called Honai.

The Honai house is the first type of house and the most common. It is the home of men, so it is inhabited and built only by men.

  1. Traditional house for women and children, which is named Ebei.
Ebei Traditional House

The traditional Ebei house is specifically for women. The Ebei house is also known to the Papuans as the huma house.

It is in the Ebei house, where the women carry out the educational process of their children, teaching them the values ​​of life. Mothers hope that their daughters will become wise people.

  1. Wamai cabin to protect food and animals.
Wamai Customs

Wamai houses are usually different in shape and larger than Honai houses. It is a traditional construction that adapts to the number of animals you have. The design of the Wamai building has similarities with the Honai house.

The best time to visit and tour the Honai houses is during the Baliem Valley Festival, a cultural and performing arts festival in the Papuan Midlands. The festival takes place from 1989, in the months of August, coinciding with the celebration of the independence of the Republic of Indonesia.

Honai Resort, reinterpretation of Honai architecture
Honai Resort, reinterpretation of Honai architecture
Honai Resort, hotel in Bali, Indonesia
Honai Resort, hotel in Bali, Indonesia

Although the world has changed a lot, the traditional architecture of this TYPE OF HOUSE: Honai houses, has survived, and they remain true world heritage jewels.

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