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On this page you can see a selection of photos of the following places:

Tanah Toraja region (a.o. Rantepao) 


  A view over Tanah Toraja (South Sulawesi)  





Sulawesi (1)

  From Ujung Pandang, where we arrived from Bali by plane, we took a bus to Rantepao, a city in the region of Tanah Toraja. This bus trip, about 8 hours, took us through south Sulawesi;  from the city centre of Ujung Pandang, through its suburbs, and slowly through more and more beautiful area to the stunningly beautiful area of Tanah Toraja. Its typical houses, the Tonkonans, the funerals with pig- and buffalo slaughtering as the biggest tourist attraction from the region, and the fresh and green nature, make this region to a place more than worth a look.






The Tongkonans of Tanah Toraja

    In Rantepao, at Wisma Maria, we booked a full day excursion, which would bring us to a funeral, tongkonan villages, different types of graves and more. First, the price of this tour seemed too expensive to us, but later after bargaining, we agreed on it. Afterwards, it was more than worth it. We could never have done this ourselves in one day. On the first hand, because the sites were far apart, and on the other hand because some of them were hard to find.

This photo shows us in front of some Tongkonans, together with our guide Arie.


Some children in Rantepao, Tanah Toraja

  Some kids and their dog we met on the way. 

A view over South Sulawesi

  Sulawesi is a beautiful island, with spectacular nature. The south-western part of Sulawesi, the region of Ujung Pandang, is not very special, but the further you leave this city behind you, the more beautiful it gets. From far, one can already see the beautiful and  typically shaped  mountains. They make a clear border between Tanah Toraja and the rest of South Sulawesi. 

A bizar funeral in Rantepao, with buffaloes and wild pigs killed as an offer to the deceased. First the guests come in.....

    At the site of the funeral. We were invited to attend this funeral by an Indonesian man. The family feels honoured when ´buleh´ (or : tourists ) come, but you cannot come uninvited and you need to bring a gift with you. A common gift is a big pack of cigarettes. Smoking is a luxury, a sign of wealth. During the ceremony, we saw our cigarettes distributed and everyone started smoking.

On this photo you can see one of the important guests arriving. An important guest is a family member. Since Indonesia is such a large country and many Indonesians have emigrated, some of the family members have travelled for many days to attend this funeral. 




Wild pigs, still alive, are lying here to be offered later



The villagers, friends and acquaintances  are gathered together in kind of wooden cabins, built around the main site. They drink tea and coffee, eat cakes and more delicious things, chat, laugh and watch everything which happens in front of them.....

Family members all bring a gift as well: buffaloes or pigs, which you can see here lying on the ground, still alive, bound to bamboo sticks, waiting for their fate....





One wild pig is taken away........



Which is to be offered, to be slaughtered. To me, it seemed so cruel and I couln´t get used to the screaming of all the pigs, which were carrying around from here to there, until they were thrown on the offering site. 

It was very difficult for me to see this with Torajan eyes, and not with my Dutch, animal loving ones. Many many pigs were killed and blood was seen everywhere, not to forget the heart breaking screaming.......





A buffalo, just killed. The meat will be divided among the guests



But even more traditional is the offering of a big fat buffalo. It´s supposed to be an honour for the animals, since their soul is going to accompany the soul of the deceased to heaven. Lucky for me, that had already been done when we arrived there. But the big dead animal, covered with blood, was still lying there on the ground, with the butchers, children and dogs, running around it, and flies trying to get their share of it..........


Traditional clothing on the funeral

    On the next two photos you can see some children with traditional Torajan clothing, who are sitting at the entrance to the ´VIP´ lounge. On the background with the white shirt, our nice guide Johannes from Wisma Maria, who spoke very reasonable dutch  besides very good english. 

To me it was not so important to actually witness the offering itself. So when we were invited to come to the same funeral the next day as well (funerals last about 4 to 5 days here) because we just missed the buffalo slaughtering, I told them thanks but no thanks. 




My friends did go and they were in shock the rest of the day because of all the killing (sorry:´offering´), all the blood, the screaming, the big butchers knives and the fresh meat they saw there. I really wanted to learn more about this culture, but didn´t feel like I would miss such an important deal if I didn´t watch this offering. There was more to the whole funeral than only this killing, and I did enjoy that. Likethe cremation in Bali, this funeral was not a sad happening.


A typical sight in Indonesia, squatting men

      A good excuse to me was that most of the family, friends and all the others, weren´t looking either. Not because they are disgusted, but just because it´s so normal to them.

This photo is taken outside the place of the funeral, where many family members were waiting in a long line for the tax administration (of the pigs and buffaloes) before they are allowed to enter the site.

Aren´t these squatting men just amazingly beautiful?!


The famous rock graves in Tanah Toraja with the Tau Tau Puppets, which represent the deceased

    This photo is taken in Lemo, near Rantepao. It shows a huge rocky hill, where the famous rock graves are made in. Making one grave takes a year. When a person dies, the body is put in here, and a Tao Tao (a ´look-a-like´ puppet) is placed near the grave, as you can see on the photo. The reason for putting the deceased so high up into these rocks, was because often possesions (valuables of the deceased, which were put into the coffin) were stolen from the normal graves. Now they are highly inaccesible.

A market in Makale

      A market in Makale, a town as big as Rantepao, also in Tanah Toraja.

Like most markets in Indonesia, the Makale market is very colourful and vivid, and many many products are sold, like all kinds of fruits which grow in the region, vegetables, spices, rice, beans, but also meat, living animals you can slaughter yourself, shoes, sarongs, umbrellas, boxes, spoons, plates, etc. etc. There is really little you can imagine which isn´t sold on Indonesian markets......

Every saturday.


Fish, ´freshly´ prepared in a warung on the seaside of  Ujung Pandang

  Back in Ujung Pandang, to the south of Tanah Toraja. We went looking for some food in the evening, and ended up, by becak, at these seaside warungs, close to Fort Rotterdam. I felt very brave eating fish here, after all the ´Bali bellies´ I already experienced during my time in Indonesia, since it wasn´t looking as a top restaurtant; but the fish was very fresh, prepared in front of us, and very very tasteful!!


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