Tana Toraja – Part 1

by hamishandkat

Tana Toraja, in the mid-south of Sulawesi, is a highland region that attracts a reasonable amount of tourist attention – mostly for its’ funeral ceremonies and traditions. Elaborate burial positions, animal sacrifices and effigies are all part of everyday life here… Literally everyday within 50kms of Rantepao there is a funeral or celebration within that is important enough to local people to warant sacrifice of buffalo or pigs, a feast and possibly even buffalo fights. We visited one funeral – we left after the first buffalo sacrifice and before they started with the pigs.

This element of sacrifice is hugely important to Torajan people, with the animals sacrificed joining the dead in the afterlife, similar to the beliefs of ancient Egyptians. To us, it wasn’t the quickest death we could of hoped for the buffalo, and the meat of pigs sacrificed before we got there wasn’t shown much butchery respect.

Regardless, we spent an enjoyable if mildly traumatic couple of days touring the countryside, with Hamish piloting a motobike (with Kat riding pillion) and led by a guide. There was also a spot of culinary instruction from the kitchen of our hotel, but that will have to wait.