Taiwan-Indonesia Partnership: Exploring Culture Through Traditional Houses Practices

Prof. Dr Bien Chiang delivering his general lecture to Universitas Tanjungpura students

Department of Architecture in collaboration with International Affairs Office of Universitas Tanjungpura and Center of Southeast Asian Ethnicities, Cultures and Societies had successfully conducted sharing sessions and general lecture on the theme of “In House-burial and Bilateral Namesake: Paiwan House As Core of Historical Memory” on January 15 2020. The event is a continuation of Universitas Tanjungpura and National Taitung University (NTTU) partnership since last August 2018.

The purpose of this event is to strengthen both universities academic and cross cultural understanding as well as preserving indigenous culture. “Taiwan government has tremendous interests in its relation to Southeast Asia nations. As Indonesia is a huge country, I got to have the opportunities to tie a relationship with Universitas Tanjungpura. I have also worked on my research for about four years in Pontianak. This event is meant to explore both nations’ cultural understanding and as a learning platform,” says Prof. Dr. Bien Chiang from NTTU who also presented the topic’s theme in general lecture.

Previously, eight students and lecturers from Department of Architecture Universitas Tanjungpura were sent to join a workshop on October 2019 at NTTU. There, they learned about cultural heritage, community empowerment, and sustainable management of indigenous community. One of the students, Michael Vica, said “there were many similarities in the traditional practices and custom. It is because the immigration that happened many years ago.”

Traditional Houses and Culture

Culture is originated from groups of people whose pattern and lifestyle are ingrained from generation to generation. Exploration of culture, specifically on indigenous people help bridge understanding and its long practices. Prof. Chiang on his presentation shows the cultural attachment in Paiwan society as one of its material wealth which in line with the ‘House Society’ theory from Claude Lévi-Strauss. “Paiwan people may not leave any written form of its cultural practices but its culture is well reflected in the houses they built.” said prof. Chiang. Family relation, the birth and the death, and their social interaction are becoming central parts of the Paiwan society. Its houses are the place of birth and the place to bury the deceased. Indonesian cultures are no different in terms of the way its community revolve. Long houses in Kalimantan Barat, Tongkonan house in Toraja, and Gadang house in Padang are some of the typical houses which centralized on its practical usage for families and daily activities. “There are many things we can learn from the architectural design of houses, culturally and historically to benefit us,” closes Prof. Chiang in his statement.

Session group photo of the participant and Prof. Dr Bien Chiang

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