Cliff burial effigies in Tana Toraja, Sulawesi
Tana Toraja, Sulawesi Island
Housing and grain storage decorated with buffalo horns, Tana Toraja, Sulawesi
Tana Toraja is a region in Sulawesi Island that looks like a picture postcard of Nature’s Ideal Home.
Terraced rice fields carpet the ground, limestone cliffs form the walls, and extraordinary winged, thatched buildings on stilts provide the exotic decor. But the environment is not the only picturesque part of Torajah. Death is also colourful, curious and exquisitely arranged during Tana Toraja funerals.
The buffalo is Torajah’s number one status symbol, and some think that the curious shape of the houses mimics buffalo horns, though others believe that it is related to the shape of the ships that brought the original settlers to Indonesia’s Sulawesi island. Whatever the reason, the final resting place of the buffalo horns is on front pillars that support local houses.
Death is a Picture in Tana Toraja
Apart from eating, drinking, and chatting, guests chant and dance hand-in-hand for hours in a circle around the two biers, a dance that symbolises the human life cycle and at the same time bids farewell to the dead person.
Guests chewing tobacco at Tana Toraja funerals, Sulawesi
Smoking is popular Indonesia male pastime, and foreigners are welcome at this kind of event if they present a carton of cigarettes to the relatives.
Women, on the other hand, chew tobacco, and large amounts of it – so much so that dark brown lumps of tobacco can often be seen protruding grotesquely from their mouths. They are also fond of chewing the narcotic betel nut.