A LITTLE ABOUT TORAJA (part 2)

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What makes Toraja unique is the traditional house of the Toraja people called Tongkonan. Tongkonan is a traditional house where the roof is curved like a boat. At the front there are rows of buffalo horns. The inside of the room used as a bed and kitchen. Tongkonan is taken from the word of “tongkon” (sitting together). Tongkonan is divided into social status of the Toraja people.  The tongkonan house also illustrates the social strata of the people in Sillanan, the people who are the holders of government power. If someone dies and 2 buffaloes are cut off, one buffalo head is brought to the Tongkonan to be distributed to their offspring.

The interior of this traditional house is divided into three parts, they are southern, central and northern parts which have their respective functions. The southern part is for the head of the family, the middle part is for family gatherings, the kitchen, a place to eat and a place to put dead people, and the northern part is for the living room, a place to put offerings and also the children’s beds. They believe that the philosophy of the division of space must not be violated, because it is believed to cause disaster.

Buffalo head statue at the top of the Tongkonan house, not just a decoration. Buffalo head consisting of three colors (white, black and striped or commonly called Caucasians) has the economic ability of the owner of the house. Every traditional ceremony in Tana Toraja must use buffalo as its sacrificial animal. Just imagine, the price of one black buffalo is estimated at Rp. 60 million per head, while buffalo striped or Caucasians start from Rp. 600 million to Rp. 1 billion per head. So, the more buffalo horns and pig teeth that line neatly above the house, the higher the degree of the family. In addition to buffalo horns, in some houses there are also some additional statues in the form of chicken heads that indicate if the owner of the house is the elder in that place.

Buffalo is very identical to Toraja. Every traditional ceremony in Tana Toraja must use buffalo as its sacrificial animal. At the funeral ceremony, the more buffaloes are sacrificed, the faster a spirit will be escorted to puya (the realm of death). A person from a middle class family usually sacrifices up to 10 buffaloes while a wealthy family or a noble family can sacrifice up to hundreds of them. So, the more buffalo horns that line neatly above the house, the higher social status of the family.

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