The Karo Rumah, once hidden away in the highlands of Sumatra


The Karo people live in the highlands north east of Lake Toba in North Sumatra, Indonesia. The highlands were conquered by the Dutch who later built roads, like it or not, ending the isolation of the highland Karo. This is one of the Karo traditional homes, a 'rumah'. The rumah is a large house built on wooden piles in which a group of families, usually eight, live communally.


During the day the interior is a shared living space and at night cloth or matting drapes provide families with privacy. The gable of the rumah (see some examples below) are elaborately decorated giving an indication of the wealth and status of the families.