Just like the houses in Tanah Toraja more than 2.000 km to the east, those of the Batak, the indigenous people occupying the ancestral lands centered on and around mighty Lake Toba in North Sumatra, sit high upon pillars. Just like the unique homes of the Torajan people, the saddle-shaped roof is one distinct feature, although the former will explain the reason for this quite differently. Originally these roofs were constructed with palm fibers, but sadly these days corrugated metal is far more common. All the houses have decorated wooden gables, carved into highly stylized geometric patterns, referring to a certain design of the cosmos along ancient Batak beliefs. Red, black and are the ever recurring colors on these beautiful wooden panels. Another striking example of Batak architecture is the proximity of the family graves. There is no such thing as a communal burial ground or central cemetery. The Batak people prefer to bury their loved ones in a house-like grave within the family compound or garden. There are examples of these typically styled houses all over the Batak native lands, but most of them are on Samosir, the spiritual heartland of the Batak people. This pleasant, laidback place has many other fascinating examples of Batak culture.