The Jakarta Post
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono dedicated the Istano Basa Pagaruyung, a traditional palace, in Nagari Pagaruyung in Tanah Datar, West Sumatra, late last month.
The day before the formal event, Yudhoyono and his wife, First Lady Ani, visited the building, taking the opportunity to pose from windows on its ground and second floors while waving to the crowd.
In West Sumatra, traditional rumah gadang reflect the province's Minangkabau people. Throughout the region, numerous buildings sport the design elements of rumah gadang, including genuine structures built for customary ceremonies, and more mundane government offices and public facilities. An istano basa, however, is the largest and most magnificent example of the traditional style.
The Istano Basa Pagaruyung is a palace without a king, built after the suppression of the Revolutionary Government of the Republic of Indonesia (PRRI) movement in 1958, which was based in West Sumatra.
Then-West Sumatra governor Harun Zen initiated construction of the Istano Basa Pagaruyung in 1976 as a way of reviving the flagging pride of the Minang community after the suppression.
The palace was a duplicate of the original Pagaruyung royal palace, which was set afire by the nation's Dutch colonizers in 1804. It was built using sketches and images of the rumah gadang of the Minang people in Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia.
The palace, which was an open air museum and tourism icon, was damaged by fire after it was struck by lightning in 2007. Restoration of the building has taken six years and an estimated Rp 20 billion (US$1,71 million) to complete.
Although built using concrete, the Istano Basa Pagaruyung was restored using traditional materials adorned with 60 carvings that signify Minang philosophy and culture.
The palace has three stories with 72 pillars and a roof made from 26 tons of palm fibers.
The Istano Basa Pagaruyung is also furnished with over 100 duplicates of antiquities, ensuring that the kingdom of Pagaruyung will again be revived as a favorite tourist destination in West Sumatra.
Photos by 'JP/Syofiardi Bachyul Jb