David,Sunny'and Trish's Asian Adventure 2014/15 travel blog

House tombs - coffins of families buried together

More house tombs

Tau Taus for house tombs

Cave tombs

Tau Taus for cave tombs

Overcrowding resulted in broken coffins and scattered bones

Cave tombs with a bunch of Tau Taus

Kambira tree, protector of baby coffins

Black, red and white rice or nasi

Market colours

Home of spice and sambal

Even blue duck eggs

Fresh tobacco ingredients

Dried fish

Fresh fish

Eel is a delicacy

In the background, $70K albino spotted water buffalo

Toraja dressed tourists in the buffalo corral

Water buffalo waiting to be picked

Piggies waiting to be picked

The chosen ones prepared to be taken to their new homes

One piggie goes home by motorbike

Cotton weaving in Toraja Land village

Silk weaving in Sengkang village

Floating house on Tempe Lake

Let there be light,,with the help of a generator!

Trish during one of her MANY photo ops with the locals in...

One of many Sulawesi butterflies in Bantimurung National Park

Not more had to be said about the morning actvities...Day 4 of the funeral festivities would be the procession of the coffin to its final resting place into the family's chosen location. Unfortunately for us, we would not be able to attend this part of the celebration as it would be taking place on Monday, the day we were leaving Toraja Land. (Sunday is a day of rest so nothing would be taking place until the Monday).

What kind of location? Our afternoon was spent touring around the many burial options available to the families. The location and the style are contingent on the class of the family: noble class, middle class and lower class. Obviously, the noble class would have the most elaborate final resting sites. This is because they may own the land onto which the sites are built or they can build a secure house grave like the ones in Marante. They do not cremate thier dead so every person who dies will be taken away in a coffin and placed in a stone cave or house grave; and if it is a child of less than 6 months old, it is buried into a giant tree located in Kambira. Why a tree? It is because the tree is still alive so can nurture the babies into heaven.

They do not bury their dead into the ground either as an important belief of their tradition is to help the dead ascend closer to heaven, so higher the ground, the better such as those found in the village of Lemo. These final resting spots are hundreds of years old and evidenced by the many coffins out on display and/or remaining skulls and bones where the coffins have rotted away. Where there are stone caves or house graves, Tau Tau's or wooden effigies made of the dead person are placed ourside the graves. It is believed that these tau taus house the spirits of the dead on earth.

Although these rituals may seem barbaric to most of us, the Torojan people are proud to continue to practice them from generation to generation. Some of the graves we visited were over 400 years old. Even if some of the Torojan people left their villages to find work, they still return to their villages to attend the funeral of their family/community members. This is their responsibility to their ancestors. Usually, funerals take place during the months of July and August to faciliate the return and availability of as many family and community members over the holidays. We were so fortunate to be able to attend one in January and to only get a glimpse of this very rich and complex tradition. Enough of death and dying...

Day 2 in Toraja Land - Buffalo Market

After such a full and emotionally charged day on Friday, we were still excited about encountering more adventures on day 2 in Toraja Land. The Buffalo market only takes place every 6 days so when we booked our tour timing to coincide with a market day. The market was bustling with shoppers, vendors, small and big animals, vegetables of all colours and the broad range of homewares from sacrificial knives to everyday clothes.

We were first greeted with some "coq skirmishes", a testing ground for uncovering true coq warriors for the big fights. We were told that one of the elements of the multi day funeral festivities was the high stakes betting on coq fights. We did not attend an actual coq fight, though.

Indonesia relies a great deal of their agriculture on rice production--mostly consumed domestically (nasi). Other than the common white rice variety, they also produce black and red strains. in addition, we were mesmerized by the colours from the many types of hot peppers and the variety of vegetables.

The main attraction to this market was the water buffalo trading. There were thousands of them on display for potential buyers. The most prized type were the spotted albino mix coloured ones. Some of these can fetch upwards of $70K. These buffaloes would be purchased for the sole reason of raising them for when they will be used as sacrifices at a weddings and funerals.

Right behind the buffalo corral were the pig pens. The pigs were displayed to potential buyers. Once selected, they were marked, then prepared for transport. No vehicle was too small to bring home a pig!

In the afternoon, we visited a weaving village. This village only produced cotton based fabrics. We both bought several table runners and scarves. The remainder of the afternoon was spent touring around Toraja Land and rice paddies.

We left Toraja Land the following morning to head south, 6 hour drive to Sengkang, a predominately Muslim town (liquor not easily accessible--but we were able to find a few bottles of "bir dingin" or cold beer). This town is home to another village of weaving, this time, silk. Beautiful array of coloured silk woven into scarves, sarongs or simply bolts of fabric for sale. This town also has Indonesia's 3rd largest lake, Lake Tempe. Although it's size is in decline, it is still an important lake where fish is farmed by the local villagers. They produce 50 tons of fish each year. Most of this is farmed by villagers who live 10 months of the year on floating houses. Life is VERY simple in these houses! At least they have access to electricity by using a generator.

The final day in Sulawesi involved another 5 hour drive back to Makassar. Enroute, we stopped by a national park called Bantimurung. The main attraction were a waterfall and home to some of the most spectacular and rare butterflies only found in Sulawesi.

We were told that during rainy season, Sulawesi island received the most rain compared to the other islands. However, as we stated earlier on, we brought the sun with us as it only rained once in Makassar (the first day) and never again over the remaining 5 days in Sulawesi! We boarded our 1 hour flight back to Bali, full of memories and experiences that will never be forgotten!

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