Religion and Architecture in Premodern Indonesia

Studies in Spatial Anthropology

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In his richly illustrated Religion and Architecture in Premodern Indonesia Gaudenz Domenig investigates the nature of Indonesian ethnic religions by focusing on land opening rituals, sacred groves, and architectural responses to the custom of presenting offerings. Since deities and spirits were supposed to taste offerings on the spot, it was a task of architecture to attract them and to guide them into houses where offerings were presented.
Domenig quotes numerous sources to show that certain material elements of the house were viewed as spirit attractors, spirit ladders or spirit pathways. Various ‘exotic’ features of Indonesian vernacular architecture thus become understandable as relics from times when architecture was still responding to indigenous religions practised in the archipelago.

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Gaudenz Domenig, architect, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich, 1960), is a pioneer of Indonesian vernacular architecture studies. Domenig has published numerous articles and a monograph; he also co-edited and co-authored Indonesian Houses (two volumes, KITLV Press, 2003, 2008).
'...this monograph is remarkable both for its thoroughness and the distinctive perspective its author brings to the topic.'
Webb Keane in Asian Ethnology 75.2 (2016), 489-493.

'...this study is an invaluable contribution to the history of architecture, especially concerning the communities of Western and Eastern Indonesia, and by extension, other parts of Southeast Asia with related cultural linkages.'
Hélène Njoto in Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 172 (2016), 384-386.
All interested in the evolution of religions and in architectural responses to indigenous religious practices and beliefs, particularly in the context of vernacular architecture in Indonesia.