Sulawesi: Toraja funeral ceremony (1972)

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The Torajas are one of the main ethnic groups in Sulawesi. They live in the highlands round Rantepao and Mamasa, and until recently have been mostly rice cultivators. They have complex rituals, among which the most famous to outsiders is their funeral ceremony. This ceremony is an expensive event held over several days and attended by many people. During the ceremony, several dozens of water buffalo and many pigs are slaughtered below the coffin of the deceased. I attended one such ceremony during my 1972 trip and much later a smaller one in 2009.

 

Coffin of the deceased.

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Slaughter of water buffalo.

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Boys catch spurting blood in bamboo tubes.

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Buffalo carcasses are gathered under the deceased and eventually put into pieces.

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On another day, the coffin is eventually taken down and carried to the burial site (a long way ago).

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On the way to the burial site, people play some complex combination of dance and simulated fight.

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Finally the deceased is put to rest into a hole carved in a big rock.

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There are many burial sites around Rantepao. The most famous are those of Londa and Lemo. In those two sites the statues (called Tau Tau) are the effigies of the deceased. Unfortunately, in recent years, many Tau-Taus have been stolen and sold away to tourists and collectors.

 

Burial site of Londa.

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Burial site of Lemo

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Links to:

- Main Sulawesi 1972 page

- Ujung Pandang and Polewali

- Polewali to Mamasa

- Mamasa to Palopo via Rantepao

 

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