General Information

Toraja land, as one of the tourist destination in South - Sulawesi and Indonesia as well. From a distances ones see the jagged ridges of the hills, ones can also find beautiful valley in which bamboos and sugar palms growth up, and the traditional house with curved roof among the paddy fields that are a beautifully and naturally carved and colored by the skillful people of Tana Toraja. Toraja region is the land of surprise waiting Your visit  


Religion

Before the Dutch come to power in this high land in the 17th Century, there was no even a single word given for the name of their religion instead of the word " aluk " which refers that ritual ways and daily live activities that are to be controlled, without special instruction of how build a house, to plant rice, to greet boys and the head of the village, and the numbers of the buffaloes and pigs that must be slaughtered in every ritual ceremony.

One of the principal of this teaching is to apply ' give and take' tradition among them. Blesses and curse used to come between the one who still a life and the spirits of his or her ancestry. The most prestigious ceremony in Tana Toraja is the death ceremonial. More than half the people of Tana Toraja are Christian. we still up hold and proud of Our culture heritage and welcoming the guest ritually. 
 

Architecture

One of the most noticeable aspect about Tana Toraja is the size and the grandeur of Tonkonan ( The Traditional Houses of Tana Toraja ), raised on piles and topped with massive roof. The house are closely bound up with Torajan Traditional, one of their function is as a constant reminder of the authority of original noble families whose descendents alone have a right to build such house. The state of the Tongkonan also symbolizes the unity of the clan. It is the meeting place for family gatherings, and may not be bought or sold. Tana Toraja is one of the few places in Indonesia where traditional houses are still being built. and the skill to make them survive. The owners often live in the modern houses, keeping Tongkonan for ceremony and as symbol of the family status.

After Bali and Java, the third most popular destination in Indonesia is Sulawesi. Sulawesi island contains a great variety of exotic people, culture and natural wonders. It is another unspoilt paradise. A journey into the strange world of mysterious Toraja People is truly a rare adventure, made especially eerie by their hauting tombs - holes carved out of sheer rock faces guarded by wooden effigies that stare out across the jungle.

Toraja Land, is known for its unique culture and ancient traditions. The center of tourism is Rantepao, 328 km from Makassar by road (about 8 hours).

The entry to Tana Toraja is marked by a gate built in traditional boat-shaped architecture. The road passes through the mountains of Kandora and Gandang on which, according to Toraja mythology, the first ancestors of celestial beings descended from heaven. The majority of the people still follows an ancestral cult called "Aluk Todolo" which governs all traditional ceremonies.

Torajan culture is a complex blend of ancestor worship and animistic beliefs where rituals for the dead are colorful festivals to pave the way for the soul's entry into the hereafter. This unique culture, the scenic beauty, cool climate and gentle people are the main reason that Toraja is gaining popularity as a tourist destination. For many visitors, Toraja will linger in their mind as a land steeped in mystery, magic and ancient traditions. It is one of the world's rare cultural treasures.

toraja-house Symbolized in mythology as the land of heavenly kings, its boat-shaped houses face north in honor of the deities. Their traditional house called Tongkonan are related to the settlers who converted their boats into houses, and set the pattern of present-day community life. There is a belief that early settlers came by boats and converted the boats into houses. The houses are beautifully decorated with carvings and geometric designs. The number of buffalo horns hanging in front of the house indicate the status and wealth of the owner. Though Christianity and Islam have found converts here and modern trends have made inroads, traditional rituals remain strong, especially that of funeral rites.

The most spectacular of Torajan rituals are the funerals. For Torajan, a funeral is the single most important ceremony in the life cycle. It is based on a strong belief that the soul of the deceased travels to the land of the south and in this land of eternity, he will need all the requisites of everyday life in the hereafter just like when he was alive in this world. Funeral ceremonies are festival lasting as long as ten days with much feasting and entertainment. Animal sacrifices are made to ensure eternal life in the afterlife and to safeguard the descendants.

A funeral is a festive event for every member of the society. When the funeral is held by noble families then the ceremony will usually involve great fanfare. Buffaloes and pigs are sacrificed as an indication of status and as repayment for gifts received. This ceremony may take days, weeks or months after the actual death and the decreased is referred to as a sick man until he is buried.

Various types of graves are located in Cliffside caves, mountain ledges or in special houses reserved for the dead. The graves in Tana Toraja are made in huge rocks because of their strength and relative safety from animals and thieves. There are many of these graves in the different mountains. And some are well guarded by life-size wooden statues of the persons buried.

Toraja's Social Life and Ritual Cycle

According to myth, the original ancestor of the Toraja came down from heaven by way of a star-lit stairway to live in this beautiful part of earth.  This myth, told from generation to generation continues until today where the people of Toraja believe that the star- lit stairway down from heaven is a  media for people on earth to communicate with Puang Matua (The Only One True God).

The name Toraja was first given by the Bugis Sidenreng tribe who called them  the“Riaja” ("The people inhabiting the upper part of the mountains").While  the people of Luwu called them,“Riajang” (or "people inhabiting the west"). Another version says that ‘Toraya’ is coined from the word To (Tau= meaning people), and Raya (comes from the word Maraya = great). The two words together mean “great people”, or the nobility. Eventually, the term morphed into Toraja. The word “Tana” means land. Therefore Tana Toraja means the Land of the Nobility.  

In social life, the Toraja adhere to “aluk”, - elsewhere known as “adat” which are traditional beliefs, rules and rituals prescribed by the ancestors. Although today most Torajans are either Protestants or Catholics, the ancestral traditions rites and ceremonies continue to be practiced.

The Torajans make a clear separation between ceremonies and rites associated with life and those in connection with death, since these are closely linked to the agricultural rice planting and harvesting seasons.  

Funeral ceremonies may begin only when the last harvest is cleared and stored, which is normally in July, and is brought to a close before the sowing of the new rice seeds for the next harvest, usually starting September.  With the planting season come the ceremonies requesting for life, health and prosperity. The Toraja call these the cycle of smoke rising (rambu tuka) – associated with life, and smoke descending (rambu solo), associated with death.    

The Toraja live in small communities where married children leave the parental home and start a new community elsewhere. Children belong to both the mother’s and father’s lines. Nonetheless they all ascribe to one ancestral home, which is known as the “Tongkonan” from both father and mother’s line.  The Tongkonan is the home of the don or patriarch of aristocratic families. As Don or patriarch his main duty it is to maintain unity among families, villages and communities, and ensure that ancestral beliefs and traditions are adhered to.

At his death, therefore, an elaborate funeral ceremony must be held by the family, which has become the distinguished event marking the Toraja culture. However, since such ceremonies require quite a fortune, funerals do not take place immediately, but only months or years after the person’s death. Meanwhile the body is wrapped in cloths and kept in the ancestral home.  
The Tongkonan itself is an impressive large house topped with a saddle-shaped roof resembling the horns of the water buffalo - with its horns up at the front. This is unlike the Minangkabau house in West Sumatra, that has a similar saddle-shaped roof but is placed lengthwise. Roofs are made of palm or coconut leafs and the house’s wooden sides are beautifully decorated with distinct Toraja abstract and geometric designs in rich natural red, white and black. On its front supporting pillar are often placed a number of buffalo horns.  

The Tongkonan are often rebuilt and redecorated, not necessarily because they are in need of repair, but more to maintain prestige and influence of the ruling nobility in the area. The rebuilding of the Tongkonan will of course be accompanied by elaborate ceremonies that involve entire communities – not unlike funeral ceremonies, where relatives bring gifts of pigs and buffaloes   One requirement is the building of a tower, similar to the one made for funerals, but here the bamboo pillars point upward to the sky, while for funerals, the pointed bamboos are planted in the ground.

Following small ceremonies in the homes, rice seeds are taken from the granary, then pounded, not by hand, but for this first ceremony, women loosen their hair and pound the grain with their bare feet. Baskets of seeds are then brought to the flooded fields where they are sowed in nurseries. When the rice plants have grown sufficiently, a ceremony called maro is held, to implore for a good harvest, but moreover, also to request for fertility, for health and prosperity of the family and the village community.

 

Buntu Burake

Buntu Burake located in Makale on the Hill of Burake, it's the tallest Jesus effigy in the world, the view from the hill is very impresive where you can see all Toraja with rounded by mountain sorrounding and rice field terraces.

Buntu Burake also use for Religy Tour

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Toraja Trekking

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Village upon the clouds

Lolai is one of the new tourist site in Toraja, it's located in North of Toraja and can be reach from Rantepao by car for 01 hours drive

it's also nice trails for trekking. with tipycal mountain area and on the top you will feel like on the sky where you will see the clouds in the valley and mountains sorrounded.

from this place also you will see rice field terraces and sunrise

Nice to visit early in the morning around 5.30 till 07.00 am

lolai