traditional Tana Toraja burial complex for the wealthy on Sulawesi island, Indonesia.
Map | Indonesia Pictures
the environment is not the only picturesque part of Toraja. Death
is also colourful, curious and exquisitely arranged...
Placing a (affluent) deceased's effigy (tau tau) into a cliff burial site overlooking Tana Toraja.
On the the last day of the funeral
select guests carry the biers for two or three kilometres to the
burial site. This will be in a hole cut high in a limestone cliff.
Workers climb a bamboo frame, put the coffin into the hole, seal
it with stone, then traditionally leave the effigy to guard the
body at the entrance to the cave, looking out over the fields
of Tana Toraja.
Massed effigies socialising below their counterparts' rocky graves.
Sadly in the last few years many effigies have been stolen,
probably for sale to foreign collectors, so these days the effigies
are usually sealed inside the cave with the body.
Nevertheless, there are still many limestone outcrops pocked with
holes and dozens of weird, worn faces staring out.
Less costly tree or cliff-hanging coffins containing the remains of babies, young children or the poor. These tend to collapse after a few years, scattering the contents.
An unusually large tau tau viewing balcony, possibly all one noble family from over the years.
Tau tau effigies close up.
Travel Guide | Indonesia
Map | West Papua Pictures | Bali Pictures