March 28, 2015

1504 INDONESIA (Sumatra) - Bawomataluo Site (UNESCO WHS - Tentative List)

Nias is a rugged island, the largest of the 131 chain parallel to the Sumatran coast. The native ethnic group which lives on the island bear the same name. The Nias people are a community that still actively living within the norms and practices of the indigenous culture. Their customary law is generally referred to as fondrakö, which regulates all aspects of life from birth to death. The caste system is also recognized in their society, whereby the highest level out of the 12 levels in the Nias caste system is Balugu. Niassan society is highly stratified and chiefs, particularly in the south of island, had access to a wealth of material resources and human labor. It was with this wealth that the early 20th century saw the chiefs of the isolated island build themselves the grand omo sebua.

Villages in the island's south are laid out either in a single long cobblestone street or to a cruciform plan with the chief's house at one overlooking the street, and can be large with up to 5,000 residents. Omo sebua (chief's houses) are situated in the centre of the village and are built on massive ironwood piles and have towering roofs, which reach heights of 16m. The piles rest on large stone slabs and diagonal beams of the similar dimension and material providing longitudinal and lateral bracing, enhancing stability in earthquakes. The warring culture built them to intimidate with size and the houses are virtually impregnable to attack with only a small trap door above a narrow staircase for access.

The interiors are built from planed and polished hardwood boards - often ebony - that are slotted into each other using tongue and groove joinery. The internal timbers often feature bas-relief carvings of ancestors, jewelry, animals, fish and boats with a balance of male and female elements that is essential for Niassan concepts of cosmic harmony. The more opulent houses are further decorated with freestanding wooden carvings and the internally exposed rafters are adorned with jaw bones from pigs that were sacrificed for the workers' feast at the time of the houses' completion.

About the stamp
The stamp is part of the series issued on May 2, 2009 to celebrate the International Year of Astronomy:
1/3 Galileo Telescope
2/3 IYA Logo
3/3 Galilio Galilei - It's on the postcard 1504

Nias - Wikipedia
Omo sebua - Wikipedia
Bawomataluo Site - UNESCO official website

Sender: Edwin (direct swap)
Sent from ??? (??? / Indonesia), on 06.11.2012

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