Sabtu, 12 Januari 2013

Tana Toraja - Land of The Heavenly Kings (2)

Famous Burial Sites Not To Miss At Toraja

Toraja unique tradition in funeral procession and selecting burial sites has attracted people from outside its area, and from all over the world, to come and explore this land. Other than that, Toraja with its cool weather also has fabulous landscape with green padi field, and Toraja coffee is considered one of the best in the world. Also, it's specialty food Pa'piong and Pamarasan is one of the must-do's while you're at Toraja.
Some of the most famous burial sites are listed below. Each site belongs to a certain family clan. You can visit them all in 1 day, and the best way is to rent a car from a local rental (IDR 350,000 - IDR 500,000 depending on type or car and your bargaining skill) - I just didn't remember seeing any taxi at Rantepao. Motorcycle rent (with driver) is less preferable because it rains a lot for the whole year at Toraja. Entrance fare ranges IDR 5000 - IDR 15,000 per site.

Kete Kesu

Kete Kesu is a traditional village located near the city center. There, people still lives in traditional houses and traditional way. This village is famous for its hanging grave. 

Coffins are placed on a wooden palette hung up high on a cliff.

After years, the palette will decay and break down, so will the coffins.

When this happens, the bones inside the coffins will be thrown apart on the ground. 


Suaya is the burial place for Kings of Sangalla. Tombs are made by making holes high on a cliff. Corpses are buried in those holes. You won't see skulls scatter around there.

The effigies (in local term : Tau-tau) of the deceased are placed in rows - in a long rectangular hole (like a balcony) carved on the cliff


Lemo is a Unesco World Heritage Site. Almost similar to one at Suaya, tombs are made by carving  the vertical cliff. What makes Lemo stand distinct from others, is the wonderful landscape around : valley, green padi rice, karst mountain in the distance.
Here's a (nearly) 360-degree scene captured by camera of my smart Galaxy S2 phone :)

Standing in front of it makes me imagine how the Torajans climb up the cliff to bury the deceased. Balconies with Tau-tau add a magnificent view to it.


Natural caves are also used as burial sites, like the one we see here, 5 km southern of Rantepao. Site belongs to To'lengke' family clan. This natural cave has 2 entrances, and is interconnected inside via low tunnel - you'd better not crawl inside it, since you can easily access it from the 2 entrance. 

It's dark inside the cave, and local guys will offer you 'guided tour with lantern'. The guides are friendly and will explain anything you want to know.
Inside the dark cave, coffins are placed according to the family tree. The relatives then will pay a visit at regular time and put money, cigarettes and drinks as gift for the departed spirit of their loved ones.

 When the coffins aged and decayed, then the family should perform a Ma'nene' ceremony to change the clothes and replace the remains into new coffins. 
Because of high cost in performing such ceremony, then the majority will just put them some place in the cave:
on a ceiling neck..

or just any place fits for them..

One important thing is that this unique tradition is still strongly held by the Torajans, even the young generation. They have a belief that no matter where on the earth they wander, they'll be sure to be buried at their beloved Toraja Land, the land where their spirit will join the spirit of their ancestors.