|[Original Dutch] Sumatra. Kantoor te Taroetoen. [end]
During the Dutch colonial era - a period of almost 350 years across different parts of the Indonesian island archipelago - the administration in Indonesia was divided into two sections: native administration and European administration. Native or local administrators were usually Indonesian feudal nobles whose allegiance to the Dutch was negotiated and practical for both sides.
Like most colonial regimes, European administrators came from the home country, in this case the Netherlands. They held the most power, over other Europeans and of course the local inhabitants. This image seems to neatly encompass both the higher status of the almost godlike colonial official over the people in the lower background, with the darkness of the trees adding the appropriate atmosphere. The house on the left was probably the residence of the official, and the building on the right the offices where people came to petition him.