Honai House, Treasure of Green Architecture from Papua

Honai House, Treasure of Green Architecture from Papua

goodmorningpapua.com – One of the local architectures that has survived to be at present is the Honai House, a traditional house of the Dani tribe living in the Baliem valley, Jayawijaya Regency, Papua. The existence of the Honai House can be found in the valleys and mountains amid the island of Papua, especially at an altitude of 1,600 – 1,700 meters. Apart from the Dani tribe, there are several other tribes staying at the next to this valley, namely the Yali and Lani tribes with a population of around 100,000.

Honai is a unique little house with a mushroom-like shape. Yes, this house is composed of a basic shape of circle with a wooden frame, walls of wicker and a conical roof made of straw. It is only 2.5 meters high which, if viewed from the air, looks like blackish brown mushrooms lining the valley. It’s no wonder that if discovered firstly by Richard Archbold’s expedition in 1938 it is called the Grand Valley.

The treasure of Honai’s architectural knowledge is very unique. The materials used in making Honai come from 100% renewable natural ingredients. Soil floors, woven walls and thatched roofs are very eco friendly materials. This is an example for the current generation of architecture that long before the knowledge of green architecture our ancestors in Indonesia had implemented it.

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The shape of the house with the closing down roof  turned out to be aimed at protecting the entire surface of the wall in order for not being exposed to rainwater as well as being able to hinder  the cold so as not to enter the house. This house also does not need a window since the temperature there can reach 10-15 degrees celsius at night. There is only one door for entry and exit with a small ventilation so as wild animal is difficult to enter.

Interestingly, even though it is small, there are in the house two floors with different functions. The first floor is for a bed and the second one is for a place to relax, eat, and other family activities. Even at night, right in the middle of the floor, there is product of the ground excavation functioned as a furnace apart from lighting, the embers of them are also useful for warming the body.

Actually, the Honai house can only be inhabited by men. Meanwhile, the house for women is called Ebei’s house and for the animal enclosures it is called Wamai. These three types of houses look exactly the same, it’s just that the house for the men are taller.

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Apart from functioning as a place to live, the Honai house also functions as a place to store war or hunting equipment, a place to train boy to become strong man when they grow up so that they can protect their tribe, a place to develop war strategy as well as a place to store all ancestral heritage symbol and equipment.

Considering from the use of the Honai house above, we can conclude that apart from having a physical function, this traditional house also has several important philosophies perpetually maintained by the people of the Baliem Valley. Honai has the value of maintaining the highest unity and integrity of fellow tribes and maintaining the culture passed down by the ancestors forever.

The right time for us to see and visit Honai is when the Baliem Valley Festival is held. This is a festival of performing arts and culture from the people of the Central Mountains of Papua. Completed with inter-tribal war attractions. This festival has been held since 1989 every August, coinciding with the month of celebrating the independence of the Republic of Indonesia.

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