Tanah Toraja the land of the Toraja people - Azimuth Adventure Travel Ltd
Tanah Toraja the land of the Toraja people

Tanah Toraja the land of the Toraja people

Mar 14 2024

Tanah Toraja, the land of the Toraja people in the south of the island of Sulawesi. These people demonstrate, even today, an ability to keep intact an ancient tradition, where Man and Ox are one. The rice fields are their daily life, and that of the enormous mastodon (perhaps the largest buffalo in Indonesia) which is used for plowing. The fruit of their labor is transported to the Rantepao market, where transactions are brisk. Millions of rupiahs are exchanged for these buffaloes, for their white or brown skin, and their albino eyes.


On the day of a man's funeral, the buffalo will go to paradise with the one who was his master. This journey through the heavens will take him to his ancestors. The Men will follow the immutable ceremony from the village of the deceased. Ma’badong dances will be performed in his honor. In a circle, the men turn slowly, one step forward and one step back. A long poem is then uttered, first by a single man, whose voice is then joined by those of the villagers. Without an instrument, only the rhythm of men brings this poem to life.


“A man is dead, let those who cry come…”. A long line of men walks in the rice fields... The songs resonate, dozens of domestic animals are sacrificed to honor the party, the family and to feed the hundreds of guests. A man is dead and the party begins!


The Toraja country also has menhirs in homage to ancestors and houses with slender roofs. The latter are reminiscent of the bow of a boat with the mast which supports the solid wood structure, decorated with countless buffalo horns. Traces of the passage of ancient sailors, arriving from the Chinese coasts millennia ago, stranded on the shores of the Sulawesi sea and pushed inland by new conquerors...


The Toraja country is mountainous, a guarantee of guaranteed isolation, allowing one to hide from the gaze of others and to pursue a community life entirely dedicated to the cult of the ancestor. The place “where the sun rises” also called “the smoke that rises”, is synonymous with the rites of life, the protective houses where one will shape one's family, the adat (customary law), and the offerings towards the gods. Conversely, on the other side, the place “where the sun sets”, “the smoke which descends”, is synonymous with death, with the celebration in honor of the one who is leaving.


The Rante is a vast plain, where the rice fields are the most beautiful, where the bamboo stems are slender and where vast and beautiful houses decorated with yellow, black or red motifs (gods, demons, war) are hidden. Rante the sacred place, fields where large stones are placed: menhirs. A place dotted with aligned monoliths. They come in all sizes and shapes, square, circular, rectangular or arcuate. In some places it is impossible to distinguish a voluntary order. The Torajas readily say that no law governs their alignment and that they follow the inspiration of the moment. Each of these megaliths tells the story of a clan, it marks and inscribes its genealogy, its grandeur and its decadence. A living book that few people know how to read.


According to the text by Thierry Robinet, adventurer & guide in Indonesia since 1977.


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