Journal of Arts & Ideas, no. 7 (April-June 1984) p. 53.

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Identity in Diversity

A Study of Traditional Indonesian Architecture

Robi Sularto Sastrowardoyo

Identity In Diversity Within Unity i


HE Indonesian archipelago consists of 13,000 islands and around 300 distict ethnic groups. Needless to say cultural boundaries do not coincide with administrative borders.

As is the case with the Nusa Tenggara chain of islands (Fig 1), Indonesia, which is an archipelago between two continents and between two occeans, has a "uniformity" and unity of culture despite the varying characteristics of its many parts. Within its diversity its many parts are tied together. Understandably enough, these ties in common point to the uniformity of these diverse subcultures. But on the other hand if this current of uniformity becomes too strong, it is only natural that a counter-current appears moving in the direction of diversity. It is because of this that the foundation of the unity of Indonesia isBhinneka Tunggdl Ika the unified diversity and the diversified unity.

Interaction amongst these ethnic groups or sub-cultures with their separate identities formed a national identity. It is clear that the cultural identity of the Indonesian people consists of the values and creative knowledge bom of the interaction of its sub-cultures, and not merely the separate indentities of each of its sub-cultures. Thus also the indentity of Indonesian architecture.

During the colonial period this interaction of sub-cultures was cut short. Thus also on a regional scale the sub-cultural interaction was broken and replaced by the centralisation ofkraton (palace) culture which was closely guarded by the colonial government.

Architecture during this-period was influenced by various things:

a. Colonial fortresses (Jakarta Old Town. Ujung Pandang, Banda). b. The central setting of a city and its social-psychological influence. A

manipulation of traditional pattern. Adapted without demur by all

cities (Fig.14). c. The colonial house which was gradually changed to "landhuis".

Journal of Arts and Ideas 53

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