HomeBlogs Omo Sebua The Omo sebua is a traditional house style from Nias island, Indonesia.
They are built only for the houses of village’s chiefs. Situated in the
centre of a village, omo sebua are built on massive ironwood piles and
have towering roofs. Nias culture, with former frequent inter-village
warfare, has made the design of omo sebua impregnable to attack. The
houses’ sole access is through a narrow staircase with a small trap door
above. The steeply pitched roofs can reach 16 metres (50 feet) in
height. Apart from a strong defense against enemies, omo sebua have
proven earthquake resistance.
Buildings Omo sebua, or chief’s
houses, are situated in the centre of the village and are built on
massive ironwood piles and have towering roofs. The piles rest on large
stone slabs and diagonal beams of the similar dimension and material
providing longitudinal and lateral bracing, enhancing flexibility and
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 steeply
pitched roofs reach heights of 16 metres (50 feet); gables project
dramatically at both the front and rear, providing both shade and
shelter from tropical rains, and giving the building a hooded, towering
appearance. With structural members slotted together rather than nailed
or bound, the structures have a proven earthquake resistance.
the omo sebua, commoners’ homes are rectangular in plan. As a defensive
measure, interconnecting doors link each house, allowing villagers to
walk the full length of the terrace without setting foot on the street
below. Both the commoners’ houses and the aristocracy’s omo sebua have
bowed galleries underneath the large overhanging eaves. Presumed to have
been inspired by the bulbous sterns of Dutch Galleons, they provided a
defensive vantage point, and in times of peace, a ventilated and
comfortable place from which to observe the street below.
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.