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BOOK REVIEW

17 Mei 2009

Rumah Melayu: Memangku Adat, Menjemput Zaman

Rumah Melayu: Memangku Adat, Menjemput Zaman

Title
:
Rumah Melayu: Memangku Adat, Menjemput Zaman
Writer
:
Mahyudin Al Mudra
Publisher
:
BKPBM dan Adicita, Yogyakarta
Edition
:
Juni 2004
Pages
:
xxvii + 165 pages
Size
:
21 x 24 cm

As in other cultures, Malay architecture art features unique and discrete buildings associated with their essential functions, physical types, varied ornaments, and symbolical meanings encompassed within every fragment of buildings. Those features are reflected in meaningful emblems of the Malay buildings. Recently, one can find some of the buildings with Malay architecture in several areas of Nusantara, Malay Peninsula, Brunei Darussalam, and other Malay countries. However, maintenance of Malay architecture can be found merely in religious places and several palaces such as Sultan Riau Mosque in Penyengat Island, Riau Islands; Syekh Abdurrahman Siddiq al Banjari mosque in Indragiri Hilir, Riau; and Kraton Melayu Sambas old mosque in West Kalimantan. Those buildings have become synonymous with the existence of Malay culture. Unlike those mosques which still enjoy their share of Malay fame, recent modern houses for living are rarely designed on the traditional Malay architecture.

The globalization era in which culturally different people interact is unavoidable, the aforementioned situation then, to certain extent, can be understood in that context. The advancement of scientific knowledge, the rapid discovery of sophisticated technology, and fast growing of science have significant influence on culture development, including the Malay culture. As the consequences, the traditional Malay architectures clearly receive less attention from Malay society and overtaken gradually by modern Malay architectures which feature distinctive styles and austere building materials.   

Despite the alteration of Malay architecture and the materials, both the symbolical meanings and values of the traditional Malay architecture remain expressed within the recent Malay houses. That “The adat and the value are still upheld even though the time has passed”, is the pivotal statement put out by Mahyudin when he wrote his book “Rumah Melayu: Memangku Adat Menjemput Zaman”. In the book, Mahyuddin attempts to elaborate at length the cultural symbols and the incalculable values attached within the architecture art of the Malay buildings.

Amidst traditional Malay society, it is believed that house has multiple meanings, not merely as a place for taking rest but also as one of the life completion. Therefore, the Malay houses construction is carried out carefully, taking into account every symbolization aspects which expose the cultural values of Malay architecture. Applying those symbolization aspects to the houses will bring considerably physical and spiritual happiness to the owners and the surrounding neighbors.        

Since they are perceived as the buildings for taking shelter, family settling, adat meetings, discussions, the traditional Malay houses typically are spacious with 6 or 12 columns, verandas, and front porches. Some indigenous Malay houses still boast of panggung style (raised floor shored up by timber pillars and have free space underneath) that look out the sunset direction. Mainly, the Malay houses comprise of living room, hall, praying room, and storage room. The naming is adjusted with the essential function of each room.   

The interesting point from Malay architecture is the symbols attached to the elements of the house; roofs, columns, stairs, doors, windows, walls, and others. In Addition, some types of ornaments carved on certain section of the house express certain values. For example, lontik roof whose two sides (perabung) cirve upward symbolizes the chapter of human life that begins from and ends to its creator. The corrugated space between the two perabung signifies “dale of life” which is usually filled with life challenges (h.38). Those symbols which have special meanings appear in the unique ornaments, and some times in Arabic calligraphy.    

It can be said that almost all elements of the Malay houses “embrace’ cultural values. For example, dara room (room for daughter) which sits upstairs, looks out the entrance way, and has exit door in the living room is intended to control effectively the dara behaviors. This control is very essential for Malay society since the dara behaviors are associated with the family honor and respect (h.80).   

Detailed information and further elaboration on Malay houses are covered in this book. Besides, 50 attractive pictures in total are included in the book to provide visual explanation completing the narrative elaboration. This book is dedicated greatly to preserve and develop the Malay architectures full of symbolical meanings and views of life.

Another fascinating part of this book is the explanation on practical techniques to maintain the symbols of traditional Malay houses and applied them into modern Malay architectures. One of the real examples for the mixture of both traditional and modern is the Malay house built by Mahyudin in Yogyakarta. Despite its modernity, the house becomes landmark for maintaining the symbols and traditional values. The book which received the “Sagang Award” in 2003 can be a valuable guide for Malay people to design the Malay values based modern houses.    

(HQ/ter/ 49/8-07)

By Abd. Rahman Mawazi


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