Preserving the culture of one’s country is very hard, especially with the advent of the modern era where technology rules much of the economy. This is why the regency of the Toraja Land, situated in the highland region of Sulawesi garners much interest. Many of the locals have not only preserved much of their cultural heritage but are still practicing many of the traditions to this day.
The Toraja Land, or Tana Toraja is a place where the culture of one of Indonesia’s ethnic communities can be seen. The people in the villages live in traditional houses called tongkonan, which has a distinctive peaked roof. These people are usually of the same family. Their culture and beliefs are seen through the various woodcarvings. But amongst these things, apart from seeing the people and their homes, this place is famous for its funeral rites. The funeral rites may last for several days, or even weeks. The burial of the dead is unique to this ethnic group. For deceased adults, the coffin may be hung from a cliff or placed inside a cave or a carved stone grave. The tombs are man-made caves that are cut into the cliff faces. Balconies overlooking the planes are made for effigies of the dead, which are called tau tau. Carved stone graves are usually for nobles of the village. Those hung from the cliffs are left until the ropes rot and the coffin falls to the ground. For dead babies, the coffins are either hung from or buried inside a tree. This is practiced because of the belief that the babies will continue to grow as the tree grows.
The Toraja Land is also known for other things. Indonesian coffee, an Arabica coffee, originates from this island. Balok, a traditional Indonesian drink that is also known as tuak, can also be purchased here. This is palm wine and is said to be stronger if it has a darker color.