Toraja: A celebration of death - Tourism Indonesia


Monday, August 27, 2007

Toraja: A celebration of death

WHEN a loved one dies, some of us like to think the dearly departed will then look down on us here on Earth.

On the Indonesian island of Sulawesi there's a place where the deceased literally do.

From cliff-face burial sites in the mist-shrouded valleys of central Sulawesi, life-sized wooden effigies of the dead (called Tua Tua) eerily stare down on their villages, keeping tabs on family, friends and relatives.

The effigies are one of the fascinating, if slightly bizarre, customs connected with death in Tana Toraja, the homeland of Indonesia's most traditional people.

Graveyards can be spooky at the best of times, but there's something especially unnerving about having hundreds of white-painted eyes following your every move. The damp, still air on the morning we explored the grave sites in Tana Toraja added to our trepidation.

The name Toraja translates as "men of the mountains". These former headhunters still practise the "aluk to dolo" - ways of the ancestors - focusing on giving family members and friends a mighty good send-off.


1 comment:

  1. more Toraja photos can be found here:


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