Toraja, Rantepao, South Sulawesi [unpublished]

I was scrolling images on my Instagram @grace_njio was liking and admiring images from a friend of mine that is now in Toraja, South Sulawesi; in the same time I am reminiscing on my own trip, how the trip was one of the highlight in my life. My father didn't allow me to visit one year before my trip to Toraja because of the ethnic feud in villages near Toraja, but then as it has been resolved, I spent a week there, track the land of Toraja for 3 days, stays in the village Tongkonan house (with a balm corps stored in the same house different room), visit the most beautiful rice fields, went to visit coffee plantation of which the coffee is my fave (yes, Toraja coffee!), given the honor to join funeral (in Toraja it is considered important festival).

I picked some images from plenty that I have to sum up the trip, brace yourself its going to be a huge post! Enjoy!

Londa Cemetery

The Toraja are an ethnic group indigenous to a mountainous region of South Sulawesi, in Indonesia.  Their population is approximately 1,100,000, of whom 450,000 live in the regency of Tana Toraja ("Land of Toraja"). Most of the population is Christian, and others are Moslem or have local animist beliefs known as aluk ("the way"). The Indonesian government has recognized this animist belief as Aluk To Dolo ("Way of the Ancestors"). Torajans are renowned for their elaborate funeral rites, burial sites carved into rocky cliffs, massive peaked-roof traditional houses known as Tongkonan, and colorful wood carvings. Toraja funeral rites are important social events, usually attended by hundreds of people and lasting for several days.

Before the 20th century, Torajans lived in autonomous villages, where they practised animism and were relatively untouched by the outside world. In the early 1900s, Dutch missionaries first worked to convert Torajan highlanders to Christianity.

There are three methods of burial: the coffin may be laid in a cave or in a carved stone grave, or hung on the cliff. It contains any possessions that the deceased will need in the afterlife. The wealthy are often buried in a stone grave carved out of a rocky cliff. The grave is usually expensive and takes a few months to complete.

Bori stone graves


Each person belongs to both the mother's and the father's families, the only bilateral family line in Indonesia. Children, therefore, inherit household affiliation from both mother and father, including land and even family debts.
Kete Kesu Village


In Toraja society, the funeral ritual is the most elaborate and expensive event. The richer and more powerful the individual, the more expensive is the funeral. In thealuk religion, only nobles have the right to have an extensive death feast. The death feast of a nobleman is usually attended by thousands and lasts for several days. A ceremonial site, called rante, is usually prepared in a large, grassy field where shelters for audiences, rice barns, and other ceremonial funeral structures are specially made by the deceased family. Flute music, funeral chants, songs and poems, and crying and wailing are traditional Toraja expressions of grief with the exceptions of funerals for young children, and poor, low-status adults.

The ceremony is often held weeks, months, or years after the death so that the deceased's family can raise the significant funds needed to cover funeral expenses. Torajans traditionally believe that death is not a sudden, abrupt event, but a gradual process toward Puya (the land of souls, or afterlife). During the waiting period, the body of the deceased is wrapped in several layers of cloth and kept under the tongkonan. The soul of the deceased is thought to linger around the village until the funeral ceremony is completed, after which it begins its journey to Puya.
La 'Bo village (the wake reception)

Another component of the ritual is the slaughter of  water buffalo. The more powerful the person who died, the more buffalo are slaughtered at the death feast. Buffalo carcasses, including their heads, are usually lined up on a field waiting for their owner, who is in the "sleeping stage". Torajans believe that the deceased will need the buffalo to make the journey and that they will be quicker to arrive at Puya if they have many buffalo. Slaughtering tens of water buffalo and hundreds of pigs using amachete is the climax of the elaborate death feast, with dancing and music and young boys who catch spurting blood in long bamboo tubes. Some of the slaughtered animals are given by guests as "gifts", which are carefully noted because they will be considered debts of the deceased's family.



Start trekking from Makele terminal & market -- up hill 

Batutumongga hill top

Tongkonan house where I stayed the night in the mid of tracking across the island, 
Ampe Amos family house at Piongan village

thank you all for stopping by and viewing the post...

my tour operator Sella Tours


  1. Wow very informational post Grace. Great culture too. Blown away by this post for real.

  2. Such breathtaking pictures, and really interesting post!! I´ve learned a lot!!
    thanks for sharing!
    xx, Natali

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  3. Wow, it's so beautiful there,the skulls are great ;)

    The Flower Duet

  4. Beautiful photos!

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  5. Interesting post! So great to learn about other peoples cultures.


  6. Wow, this is an interesting place. Great shots!


  7. thank you all for the lovely comments...