In Acehnese tradition, the house is oriented North-South. It has been suggested that this is a pre-Islamic Hindu practice, to avoid facing the setting sun and death. Acehnese now interpret that the gable of their houses face Mecca (west).
The Acehnese traditional house is built on stilts, providing shelter for people working or walking underneath it. Family heirlooms are stored in the roof of the house, considered the most sacred part of the building. The house is divided into a front and back, plus a middle section, slightly elevated above the front and back. The middle section contains the bedroom and storage space, the front is where guests and special meals are served, and the back section, containing the kitchen, is where children sleep and where women meet their female guests. In some Rumah Aceh, there are female stairs to the back section in addition to the main stairs at the front of the house.
The meunasah (mosque) is a communal gathering place in Acehense villages, derived from the Arabic madrasah. The meunasah serves as a religious building, for fulfilling the Islamic obligation of salat and for studying the Koran, also as an elementary school for children. It is also a meeting house and a place for single people to sleep.
- Islam in the Indonesian world: an account of institutional formation - Azyumardi Azra
- Aceh - History, Politics and Culture. Pub. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. ISBN 978-981-4279-12-3