Types of Batak Traditional Houses: History, Types, Uniqueness, Characteristics, and Pictures

Batak Traditional House – North Sumatra as one of the provinces which is Indonesia’s cultural heritage. Thanks to the people who still preserve the cultural heritage, this North Sumatra traditional house can still be found today.

The traditional house of North Sumatra itself does not only consist of one type, but consists of various types. One of the causes of the diversity of North Sumatra traditional houses includes the diversity of the Batak tribes in the province, ranging from the Tapanuli or Toba Tribe, the Karo Tribe, the Simalungun Tribe, the Mandailing Tribe, and the Pakpak Tribe.

Check out a more complete explanation of the Batak Traditional House starting from the History, Types, Uniqueness and Characteristics of the Batak Traditional House below:

Types of Batak Traditional Houses

1. Karo Traditional House

The most famous traditional house of North Sumatra in Indonesia is the Karo traditional house. This traditional house is often a popular cultural tourism destination among local and international tourists.

The Karo traditional house is also the largest and highest North Sumatran traditional house in size. Its height reaches 12 meters. Uniquely, even though it is the tallest and largest traditional house in North Sumatra, this house was built without using any nails at all.

This traditional house also consists of sixteen pillars that lean on large stones which then support the building so that the building then becomes stronger. The roof is made of black palm fiber tied to a woven bamboo framework.

Meanwhile, the floors themselves are made of wood that is affordable and arranged nicely so that they stick together. The Karo traditional house also has another name, namely the Siwaluh Jabu traditional house which means that the house is then inhabited by eight families with different roles in the household.


2. Nias Traditional House

The Nias traditional house is a traditional house of North Sumatra with a smaller appearance compared to the Karo traditional house. Nias traditional houses are also divided into several types, including Omo Sebua and Omo Hada.

The Omo Hada traditional house is a Nias traditional house which is used for the ordinary people of the Nias Tribe. Meanwhile, the Omo Sebua traditional house is intended for high-ranking officials and nobles. According to its shape, the two houses are not much different.

Although in terms of size much different. In the Omo Sebua traditional house with the type of house on stilts, the height under the stilts can reach 2-5 meters. Meanwhile, in the Omo Hada traditional house, the area under the stage is only 1-2 meters wide.

This North Sumatra traditional house is made of nibung wood which is used as a roof and support and from thatch for the Omo Hada traditional house, while the Omo Sebua traditional house uses a roof made of clay as the main material.

One more uniqueness of the traditional Nias house lies in its solid foundation which makes it resistant to earthquakes. Because the foundation is then placed diagonal beams that provide stability and flexibility.

3. Bagas Gondang Traditional House

This traditional house was originally a place to live or rest for kings, although now it has become part of the cultural heritage and can be used by the Mandailing tribe community as a place for meetings and deliberations for residents.

The traditional house of North Sumatra also has various characteristics such as a rectangular shape to the back with a triangular scissor-shaped roof. This part of the roof is also known as the silengkung dolok roof or the roof of the cart.

The roof is also made of weeds and dry leaves. We can see on the front roof there are black, red and white ornaments which are its trademark. While the building materials are then made of large logs with an odd number as the main support.

4. Pak-pak traditional house

The Pakpak traditional house is the house with the brightest display color among other traditional houses in North Sumatra because of the use of red and orange colors, then dominates the roof and walls of the house.

Even though there are still Pakpak traditional houses which also still use brown and black on the roof area as well as white on the walls. The Pakpak traditional house itself has a function as a deliberation in reaching resolution of problems in the community.

The uniqueness of the Pak-Pak traditional house lies in the roof that looks like a buffalo horn. The philosophy of Pak-Pak’s own traditional house on the roof of his house symbolizes the spirit of heroism so that the owner has a strong hero’s soul.

5. Simalungun Traditional House

When you see the Simalungun traditional house, what you imagine is that in terms of its enormous size. Compared to other traditional houses of North Sumatra, the shape of the Simalungun traditional house is indeed larger.

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The distinctive feature of this traditional house is in its pyramid-shaped building with a stilt house type. The underside is made two meters high with the aim of avoiding attacks by wild boars and various other wild animals.

In the foot area of ​​the Simalungun traditional house, there are supporting woods that are carved and given many colors. While the door is deliberately made short, so that guests respect the owner of the house because they will bow when entering the house. The Simalungun traditional house was originally built by King Simalungun in 1939.

6. Angolan traditional house

The last North Sumatra traditional house is the Angkola traditional house belonging to the Angkola Batak tribe. Angolan traditional house buildings are made of wooden planks for floors and walls, while the roof area consists of palm fiber and uses clay.

Many equate the traditional house of North Sumatra with the traditional house of Bagas Godang, even though the two are different. Starting from the shape, ethnicity to the selection of building colors. The traditional Angolan house has a square shape and the roof area is larger, while the smaller roof area is no less unique, namely a triangle. The Angkola traditional house is also dominated by white, dark brown and orange.


The uniqueness of the Batak Traditional House

Each Batak tribe has its own traditional house. Even though they are both Batak tribes, the unique design and architecture of Batak house buildings is not the same between one and the other. If you pay attention, the biggest difference from the architectural design of the North Sumatran traditional house building is in terms of the roof design.

The roofs of the traditional houses of North Sumatra are diverse, some are shaped like boats, some are shaped like scissors and some are shaped like sharp triangles. In addition to the roof of the traditional North Sumatra house, the front and the whole house also appear different.

Some traditional North Sumatra houses are included in the type of stilt house and some are not. The height itself requires about five steps before finally getting to the front of the main door and requires up to ten steps.

But of course there is one characteristic that we can find from this North Sumatra traditional house, namely in terms of the use of color both in the area, walls, floor, roof and stairs. The average colors used in traditional Batak houses are brick red, light brown, black, white and orange.

These colors then symbolize a separate meaning. White color which means purity, red symbolizes strength, black which means the supernatural, and so on.


Typical Characteristics of Batak Traditional Houses

The characteristics of the traditional Batak house include the rectangular bolon house with the style of a stilt house. This house usually has a height of 1.75 meters from the plains or land. The door is about 1.5 meters high and 80 cm wide with a shape that juts into the inner area.

Because bolon-shaped houses are usually equipped with stairs to make it easier for someone to enter this house. The location of the stairs is in the middle of the room. And when entering this house in particular, you have to look down while climbing the stairs.

Inside the bolon house there is also an empty room that has no rooms and is quite large in size. In supporting the bolon house, it can then stand firmly using support pillars at each corner.

While at the top it has a shape similar to a horse saddle, namely on the front and back which are curved. For the Batak people themselves, the roof is a place that they consider sacred, so they keep something valuable in the roof area of ​​their house, such as heirlooms.


The bolon house itself has its own characteristics and uniqueness starting from the shape of the walls of the house which are deliberately tilted, also seen from the material used, namely palm fiber or thatch leaves.

Even though the inside is a large room, there is no bedroom area. Although inside the bolon house there is no other room. Usually this house has 3 parts namely:

  • Jabu bona at the right corner is the back room, functioned as the head of the household
  • Jabu soding is facing the back room in the left corner area (especially for the daughter of the owner of this house, the guest’s wife, where the traditional ceremony is held).
  • Jabu Suhat is located on the left side which is specially functioned for the eldest son who is married, where next to it is a plate slapping room which is often used as a living room. The Tongatonga Jabu Bona jabu room also functions specifically for the entire extended family.

It is said that Rumah Bolon is made only from selected wood, namely wood with a loud sound when tapped. Even though Bolon houses are mostly made of wood, the unique thing about Bolon houses is that they don’t use nails, but use another alternative, namely rope.

The rope made of palm fiber or rattan is then tied tightly to the wood so that the house remains sturdy or is called a retreat. There are pictures or carvings made on the body of this house.

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The carving has a meaning about the life story of the Batak people. Examples of such carvings are the Gorga ornaments which are symbolized by lizards, snakes and buffaloes which mean to repel disaster, disease and so on.


Examples of Batak Traditional House Pictures

Batak people will work together when building traditional houses. With a rectangular shape with sturdy wooden pillars used as a foundation, it means that they support each other when facing heavy loads.

The foundation pillar with its height and straight shape and made of ninggor means honesty. Arop-aropan is found on the front of Bolon’s house, which means hope for a better life.

The support on the roof area, namely songsong boltak, means that when the occupants have evil traits, they should not be talked about to the crowd or in other words, they should be kept in each other’s hearts.

This traditional house is cleaned using a broom and the dirt is then disposed of through a hole in the kitchen or also known as a lake, which means that all mistakes and ugliness in the house must be eliminated.

The stage in this bolon traditional house is then used to store agricultural products = rice. It means hope in terms of smoothness in everything that is lived. This stage is also shaped like a balcony but has a strong meaning for the people.

The roof itself is shaped like a horse’s saddle, namely on the front and back which are curved which means participating in praying that the children and descendants of the home owner will get greater success in their future lives compared to the life they are currently living.

Books Related to Batak Traditional Houses that you must have:

Mini encyclopedia: Traditional houses of the archipelago

Traditional houses for the Indonesian people are the hallmark of each regional tribe. This is one proof that our culture is very diverse. However, even though we are different, it does not mean that we are divided, but rather are united in a solid unity with the diversity of ethnic and cultural traditions of Indonesian society, or we are also familiar with Bhineka Tunggal Ika.

Traditional house buildings themselves are often studied for the value of benefits for present and future generations. However, now the traditional houses of the archipelago are almost forgotten because people tend to make houses with new, more modern models.

The government then built miniature traditional houses in the beautiful Indonesian mini garden, Jakarta.


My Concept of Building Bangso Batak

It should be noted indeed, since around the 1980s, especially HKBP, his achievements in evangelism are no longer shining. They seem to be weakening in their evangelism, for various reasons, ranging from fragile leadership, incomplete togetherness, uneven and nervous service focus.

Elim HKBP’s social services are universal humanists. It means helping humans to live as human beings with dignity. As a human being created by God to participate in living to enliven this world.

As an institution founded by a church based on the Batak ethnicity, of course, its cultural foundation is very strong, namely Batak culture. In Batak culture in general there is a strong philosophy of helping one another.

One of those philosophies is helping each other, mutual cooperation. The strong expression of the Batak people, especially Toba, is si sada anak, si sada boru. Si sada las, sada las ni roha. It means collective ownership. Read more, click here


The Meaning and Function of Land for the Batak Toba, Karo, Simalungun People (Renewal Edition)

Today’s customary lands, which have use value or function for the wider community, tend to be managed by the government by making them into nature reserves, conservation forests, or industrial plantation forests (HTI). An example is the Bukit Barisan Community Forest land in Tanah Karo.

Production space is the allotment of agricultural land in the form of rice fields and fields that produce food needs and ceremonial needs throughout the life cycle as well as places for expansion and expansion of settlements. Certain agricultural lands which are customary lands can only be managed and cultivated by villagers.

Coastal Malay and Mountain Batak (Cultural Value Orientation)

In his book The Measurement of Modernism (1968), Kahl said 14 elements of cultural values ​​that must be believed, even must be followed by everyone who claims to be a modern person. These elements of cultural values ​​are called the Core of Modernism. If studied in depth too, then Kajl’s view will rule out views of slowness, complacency, competitors, and even apathy in human life as what is thought to be found in many societies. Kahl concludes that modern people are people who view life as actively creative and do not want to depend (again) on fate.

His life attitude is that he actively plans every job and future, looking at that future as one that must be faced with courage and perseverance by using one’s own abilities, both physical and spiritual and knowledge.

The fourteen cores mentioned above are the views of modern people that must be owned and implemented in life. including the Coastal Malay and Mountain Batak ethnic groups which are the object of this study. Read more, own this ebook now, click here.

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Source: from various sources