The inaccessible highlands of Southern Sulawesi have been home to the Torajan people for centuries, if not millennia. These distinctive people have now been spread far and wide throughout Indonesia and beyond, but they still regard Tana Toraja (the land of the Torajan’s) as their cultural heartland.
The Torajan culture is a unique and interesting one, characterised by their distinctive horn-shaped houses, various adaptations to what must have been a hospitable and inaccessible land to live and farm traditionally and of course, their famous funeral culture.
But needless to say, the spectacles are incredible and represent an interesting and unique take on life and death as well as community and family. During the months of June through to August, it is generally possible to locate a funeral taking place, which your guide will take you to visit. In December, during the Christmas season when many ex-pats return home, being able to visit a local funeral is a near certainty. Your guide will show you how to behave in order to pay respects and so long as you stay out of the way and be respectful, you will be very welcome; visitors are welcome and can only add to the prestige of the recently deceased.
Aside from the funerals, the distinctive set-up of the villages, the way they store their dead and the fascinating, and often beautiful, cemeteries are also a reason for the curious traveller to visit. They all give a different perspective to that of our own cultures.
There is much more to Tana Toraja however. It is a beautiful region, with any possible area given to productive use among the sharp crags and hills. The villages too, with their stilts, horned roofs and buffalo skulls, are gorgeous and give the whole area a kind of fairytale quality.
The Torajans are fiercely proud of their culture and delight in showing visitors further and more. There are plenty of opportunities for eating in a traditional setting with a family or even staying in a traditional compound with the rest of the village. As well, there are many spectacular walks, kayaking and overnight treks and camping options, too.
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