Saturday, May 25, 2019

Solved! RPPC of mystery building

I've never had success solving the mystery of an RPPC involving a person. But buildings are easier, it seems.

Last weekend I shared a postcard of an odd building with tree-trunk supports and elaborate exterior ornamentation. I had no idea what it was. Wendyvee pointed out that it shared some design similarities with the stave churches of Scandinavia. And then the UK-based Twitter account @BooksnMagic pointed me in the right direction: Search "Torogan Philippines"


It's a torogan. We still don't know the exact identity or location of the building shown in the postcard, but now we know its type, purpose and the general area where these were built.

A torogan, according to Wikipedia, "is a traditional house built by the Maranao people of Lanao, Mindanao, Philippines." The dwellings are a symbol of status. Here is a bit on their construction:
"A torogan is elevated above the ground by columns cut from trees of huge girth. Its walls are covered with plywood sticks and the roof thatched with dried coconut leaves. There is no interior partition, so it appears as a huge hall. Apart from the basic elements of this structure, it is intricately engraved with the flowing geometries of the Maranaw design system called okir. A torogan is not complete without the legendary bird Sarimanok being displayed inside."
Torogans have not aged well, though some remain from a century ago. Many are in need of preservation.

While torogan means "sleeping place," the structures could also serve an important purpose during natural disasters. On Postprandial Musings, 2.0, Jamal Ashley Abbas writes:
"In a country with active volcanoes like Mt. Mayon and Taal volcano and 'dormant' ones like Mt. Pinatubo, perhaps the architecture of the torogan, the Maranao royal house, is the answer. The structure rests on whole tree trunks, which in turn rest on small boulders. This is based on the concept of flexible foundation, which is supposed to insure that the house will merely sway during an earthquake and not be destroyed. Indeed, during the devastating Lanao earthquake of 1955, this torogan survived unscathed."

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