Consultations in Heaven: The Symbolism of Council Houses in South Nias and Sāmoa

Jerome Feldman
Professor für Kunstgeschichte, Hawaii Pacific University, Hawaii

31. Okt. 06 um 19:30 Uhr
Technische Universität Wien
Hörsaal 14a, Stg. 3, 3. Stock
Karlsplatz 13
1040 Wien

It is well known that many of the tribal peoples of island Southeast Asia are archaeologically and linguistically related to the indigenous inhabitants of other regions of the Pacific. However scholars rarely look closer to examine parallels in ideas and structures that span these great distances. The council houses of Nias and Sāmoa are important symbolic structures with impressive architectural forms that have some very interesting parallels and relationships. The Nias Bale, as seen in Bawömataluo village, is a gathering place that is structured within a specific larger cosmological context. This context, and its architectural manifestations reveal distinct analogues with the oldest form of council house in Sāmoa; the fale tele. This examination could serve as a prototype for future comparisons of other council houses in other areas of Southeast Asia and the Pacific.