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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.