Traditional Batak Housing, Tomok, Samosir Island/Lake Toba

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Comments (18)

Elemér on August 12, 2010

Interesting building, beautiful photo!


jeff_msn123 on August 12, 2010


Beautiful shot of traditional house.

Cheers from Hong Kong, Jeff

H. A. on August 12, 2010

Interesting architectural style. The way looks very clean.

Greeting, Hera

Emerson R. Zamprogno on August 12, 2010

beautiful architecture!

M.Kranenborg-Torn on August 12, 2010

Good to see that they are still there. nice shot.

Warm wishes from Greetje

Nick Weall on August 12, 2010

Such graceful shapes Ian ~ they look almost ready to sail ~ friendly greetings to you ~ nick

Amelia Royan on August 13, 2010

There was a crooked man and he walked a crooked mile,

He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile.

He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse.

And they all lived together in a little crooked house.

An amazing photo of this interesting architecture dear Ian. Rather different from the traditional log houses in Norway. Beautiful timbers, and construction. Do I detect a Dutch influence here? The washing and free range poultry outside number 10 (?) shows that these homes are not merely museum pieces :)

Warm wishes go with you on your travels, Amelia

ƤōƝƓ on August 14, 2010

Hi Ian, I remember seeing similar tribal houses from a Thai travel documentary. I've heard that before they adopted Christianity, they once had some sort of "sacrifice" ritual or something.


brezza on August 14, 2010

An interesting set of shots about this particular traditional architecture Ian Stehbens. Greetings from Italy,brezza

bdeh on August 15, 2010

Very nice picture of this traditional village Ian. Greetings Berend

matsljungberg on August 15, 2010

Nice photo of those traditional houses. Greetings, Mats.

Ian Stehbens on August 16, 2010

Greetings Elemér, Jeff, Brezza, Emerson, Mats, Berend and Herta,

This is style is traditional among Batak communities that surround Lake Toba. I believe that the style is a mixture of practicality, traditional animistic belief and defensive reasons. The three levels represent the three levels of existence, the practicality is revealed in the fact that the raised floors are not flooded during torrential equatorial rains, the large animals are stabled beneath, and the treasures of the family in the space above the living area. The high pitch of the originally thatched roof works very well in the deluges. The pointed roof line keeps the evil spirits from coming to rest on the home. The homes are clustered for defence reasons and many traditional villages are located on raised sites.

The building in this style is no longer common, except for a period a few decades ago, when local tourist hotels adopted the style.

A similar and related style is to be found among the Torajan culture of Sulawesi, photos of which maybe found in my gallery also.

Thank you for your appreciative comments and interest.

Warm regards,


Ian Stehbens on August 16, 2010

Dear Greetje*,

Thanks for the warm wishes. Yes, I am still here, though my work and travelling has interrupted the flow of things a lot lately. I returned from Indonesia, but for only 4 days before I was off to Tonga. I am settling in well, though our internet is intermittent for various reasons here. I hope to catch up with everyone's uploads eventually.

Warm regards,


Ian Stehbens on August 16, 2010

Greetings Nick,

Many commentators remark on the boat appearance. I don't think there is meant to be any association, but they are distinctive. You will see in one of my comments above some explanation of the design as I understand it.

All the best,


Ian Stehbens on August 16, 2010

Dear Amelia,

I too can recite such a ditty, half a world away! Love it, and sang it often. It was so beautifully illustrated in one of my childhood books. If there is any Dutch influence here it is only in the use of the galvanised iron roof to replace the thatch. I am sure some of the Dutch missionaries and some of the German ones too would have loved to have removed the points from the rooves!

And they sure are lived in residences! Warmest regards from Tonga.


Ian Stehbens on August 16, 2010

Dear Ah-Pong,

I do not know about the Thai version but I am aware of the Toraja version of this architecture, and they are renowned for the sacrificial ceremonies when buffalo are slaughtered.

You might want to check out Toraja tag in my gallery and see if the photos there remind you of your travel documentary.

Thanks for your interest,


Talavan on November 23, 2010

Bonito lugar. Saludos desde España

Ian Stehbens on December 1, 2010

Thanks Talavan. It is good to share a little of Indonesia with you, especially this little piece of North Sumatra.


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Photo taken in Garoga, Simanindo, Samosir Regency, North Sumatra, Indonesia

Photo details

  • Uploaded on August 11, 2010
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by Ian Stehbens