The Partying Dead

Torajan architecture looks as crazy as Sulawesi island shape on the map. Pretty and absolutely non-functional, not for Bauhaus fans. Same can be said about their life style, they spent their life saving for the ostentatious funeral ceremonies.

When someone dies they have a small party and then they keep the body till the parties season to the big one that will last for 5 days which involves a lot of buffaloes and pigs slaughtered, buffalo fighting, chanting in circles, tongkonan (traditional boat shaped houses) shaped coffins, wooden statues of the deceased and many more colorful festive rituals… Around the area there are stone-carver burial sites (takes 2 months for coffin), cliff hanging coffins, cave graves, baby grave trees. Strongly recommended to Google for Torajan culture and pics.


During m;y time there I attended 1 wedding and 3 funeral parties. This time I refused to see the animal slaughtering. One of the families holding a funeral was quite wealthy so they killed more than 100 buffaloes. And that’s not small affair, a buffalo cost around $3000 and an albino one can be more expensive than a car.

Chained buffalo… she likes it from behind… oh yes
Albino buff

I checked the buffalo fighting and I was glad to see that is not a really violent thing. They just push each other till one admits defeat and runs away. Usually it takes a few seconds tough I saw a couple of them lasting 15 min. A funny moment was when another two run away down a king of cliff and people have to run to find them, luckily they didn’t get injured. To get the picture of a buffalo fighting think about two fat chicks mud wrestling.


Around Tana Toraja the evenings are full of tuak fueled happiness. No need to look for the white drink, tuak will find you. Even when you don’t want tuak will chase you down and force its way to your mouth, so merciless tuak is.

Drinking tuak with a batak toba guy! Yes, I found one there... Horas
Drinking tuak with a batak toba dude! Yes, I found one there, amazing!… Horas!

A lot of people around were willing to marry me to their relatives/friends. I should have tried to see how many buffaloes I could get for my wedding

To escape the parties and the tuak and check what people are up to there I went for a 2 days trek to the mountains. Beautiful landscapes. I got to sleep in a tongkonan with a friendly family.

The tongkonan I slept in
The tongkonan I slept in

More pics here


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