Traditional Rumah Gadang of West Sumatra
Rumah Gadang, or literally, “Big House” are the traditional homes of the Minangkabau people, an ethnic group of indigenous in the highlands of West Sumatra, Indonesia. The term rumah gadang usually refers to larger communal homes which are in the form of a long house with a rectangular plan and upsweeping ridges forming a buffalo horn-like ends. These horns come from a legend about a battle between two water buffaloes from which the name Minangkabau was derived. The wooden walls, pillars, and ceilings of the rumah gadang is traditionally embellished with bas-relief carved wooden motifs that reflect and symbolize Minangkabau adat. The motifs consist of floral designs similar to those of the Minangkabau woven songket textiles.
The function of rumah gadang is as a hall for family meetings and ceremonial activities. The architectural design symbolizes the Minangkabau adat (customary belief and law). The Minangkabau society is matrilineal with property and land being passed down from mother to daughter. The arrangement of rooms in the house is said to reflect a woman’s life pattern.
It is not clear when the rumah gadang was first built. Some sources said it originated in Pariangan, Batusangkar, an early Minangkabau village. Pagaruyung Palace in Batusangkar dates back to the thirteenth century. Rumah gadang were traditionally inhabited by a single family group of three of four generations descended from one ancestor. Each of the Minangkabau identifies completely with his or her own rumah gadang. In addition to being used as family residences, rumah gadang were also used to hold weddings and adat ceremonies. Today, rumah gadang are no longer used as family residences, however they can still be found in West Sumatra and efforts are being made to preserve them.
History of Sawahlunto
Sawahlunto is a town where rumah gadang can still be found, although they are not used for residence. Sawahlunto is located in West Sumatra, Indonesia, approximately a 2-hour drive from Padang. Sawahlunto was a mining town first established in 1882 by the Dutch. In 1894 train tracks were opened and in 1898 the first coal mining tunnel was built at Air Dingin, Lembah Segar. Because it was a residential area for coal miners from other islands in Indonesia, Sawahlunto became a multiethnic region, making it historically different form other Minang ethnic populated cities in West Sumatra. The 1930s marked Sawahlunto’s golden period of mining.
After the independence, mining was still the town’s main economic source. However, after mining activities declined, Sawahlunto became a ghost town and the population declined. In 2004, the local government of Sawahlunto set a new policy focusing on tourism to rebuild Sawahlunto’s economy. In 2014 Sawahlunto has a population of 59,821, the town itself covers 5.9 km² with a population of approximately 12,000.
Areas which were used for mining are now used for recreational activities, such as that found in the Kandi zoo and the Puncak Polan hill which is now a tourist spot for paragliding. Traditional dance festivals, makan bajamba and music concerts take place not far from the vacation home every year on the 1st of December to celebrate the establishment of Kotamadya Sawahlunto.
SAGE II Vacation Home
In order to uphold the unique culture and history of Sawahlunto as well as to attract tourism, SAGE II vacation home was built in 2012. It is a modern rumah gadang, but rich with traditional architectural designs built to provide a comfortable stay and cultural rich experience for the visitors of Sawahlunto.
SAGE II is a three-bedroom rumah gadang style vacation home. Other facilities include two living rooms, a lesehan dining room and two bathrooms. Modern facilities such as electricity and gas stove are available to ensure modern comforts are met for those who stay at the rumah gadang. Cool mountain spring water provides water supply for this home. This vacation home is located at Bukit Puncak Sugar or better known as Puncak Polan. The location is about 800 meters above Kotamadya Sawahlunto and 1,000 meters above sea level.
SAGE II has a ten-hectare plantation. Inside this big plantation there are various smaller plantations, such as rubber, cocoa, and many kind of fruits (manggoes, oranges, durians, and rambutan). The plantation is located close to the vacation home. Also, there are five deers inhabiting the plantation. Near the vacation home there are other plantations, such as pinery, rubber and palm oil plantations.
Visitors can learn the unique history of Sawahlunto from the Gudang Ransoem museum also located near the vacation home. Other places to visit include Lubang Mbah Soero, KA Mak Item. Activities that you can do near the vacation home are paragliding and wild boar hunting. If you feel like swimming you can go to Sawahlunto’s famous waterboom at Muara Kelaban.
If you want to enjoy nature, peace and quite, and a beautiful view of the natural surroundings of Sawahlunto, SAGE II offers all this, in addition to many exciting activities to do and see.
Visit the Sage II Vacation Home of Sawahlunto.
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