A Comparative Study of Vernacular Settlement and Dwelling Culture: A Case Study in Kerala, South India, and Minangkabau in Sumatra, Indonesia

By Indah Widiastuti and Ranee Vedamuthu.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper discusses several aspects of vernacular settlements in Kerala and Minangkabau. The framework for the study is architecture as part of holistic system of landscape. The inquiry is directed to explore simultaneous
correlation between social organization, settlement configuration and the architecture of ancestral house in both regions of Kerala and Minangkabau. The comparative study is directed to elaborate the aspects of agreement
and difference by which contextual conditions underlining the design could be identified. In general both vernacular settlement organization in Kerala and Minangkabau acknowledge the concept of network
of villages, called Nagari in Minangkabau and Tara in Kerala. The activities of settlement are generated by the corporate house-hold unit managed under matrilineal descent-group, or Saparauik in Minangkabau and Taravad in
Kerala, which is institutionalized architecturally in ancestral maternal house, or Rumah Gadang in Minangkabau and courtyard house in Kerala (naluketttu, ettukettu or Patinjarukettu). Several maternal-ancestral houses were
traditionally organized in communal assembly of male-head care-takers in settlement level which is called kuttam in Kerala and Ninik- mamak in Minangkabau. Originally the organization was clan-based but following the length of a historical process, it underwent contextual transformations, and therefore made distinctions.
The topic is expected to raise a discourse about a subtle transitional difference between Indian and
Indonesian culture. The discourse would provide base for a critical review on geopolitical-based scholarly
classification in the traditional and vernacular architecture studies in general, such as Southeast Asian
architecture and Indian architecture, and on discourse of cultural diffusion such as “Indianized Southeast Asia”.
This topic of this paper would emphasize the importance of settlements formation as factors that define architecture
and its theoretical classifications. Theme 2: Interdisciplinary Social Science Practices Of human life-ways: anthropology in its contexts.

Keywords: Settlement, Architecture, Tara, Nagari, Dwelling-culture, Vernacular, Minangkabau, Kerala, Matriliny

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp.15-30. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.527MB).

Indah Widiastuti

PhD Scholar (Student), Department of Architecture, School of Architecture and Planning, Anna University, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Indah Widiastuti was born in Bandung Indonesia. She finished her Under Graduate in Architectural Engineering study in 1995 and Master degree in 1997 both in ITB, Indonesia. Her special interest is dwelling culture, anthropology-architecture vernacular architecture, public space, urban-vernacular environment and Behavior in architecture of Asia on which subject she does researches corresponding to the interest and write many papers for various and world wise conference. She has been teaching staff in Department of Architecture-ITB since 1997. Gaining Asia Fellow Award in 2004 for 9 month research in Kerala. Currently she is taking PhD study in Anna University, Chennai under supervision pf Prof. Ranee Vedamutu who is the co-Author of this paper.

Dr. Ranee Vedamuthu

Professor of Architecture, Department of Architecture, School of Architecture and Planning, Anna University, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Dr. Ranee Vedamuthu is the chairman, Faculty of Architecture and Planning, Anna University, Chennai, India. Her areas of specialization are traditional studies and vernacular architecture in Indian context.

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