Selamat datang! My name is Toni and I am a real albino buffalo from Tana Toraja, the cultural epicenter of Sulawesi.
Life at home revolves around 2 things. No. 1: DEATH.
Did you know that Toraja families keep the deceased at home until his funeral?
You might find it even more surprising that there are plenty of tourists who put up with endless bus rides all the way to the middle of Indonesia´s second largest island to trek around the hills and ricefields of Batutumonga or to take their selfies in front of our traditional graves.
Our people believe that you can take possessions with you in the afterlife. so in order to avoid grave plundering they used to hide the dead in elaborate caves. Not so their toddlers.
The remains of babies were actually buried in trees so that they would continue to grow. And then there are the Tau Tau.
That´s what we call the wooden effigies of the dead that used to be put on balconies in front of the graves. Many Tau Tau were stolen, so people just keep them at home nowadays.
Highlight no. 2 of Toraja: ME! And my fellow buffaloes, I guess.
In your country you guys might fill your garages with fancy cars and bikes, but here buffaloes are the status symbol of every family!
Just look at the Tongkonan, our traditional house. Even the shape of the house roof looks like my horns.
People here treat me with respect!
The same can´t be said about other animals, like the roosters. Wanna know what´s their (last) highlight? A fight in somebody´s backyard where they can call themselves lucky if someone bets on them.
Cock fight near Makale
Not to mention the pigs, just listen to their whining. These fellas even get sacrificed wedding.
Yeah, I am different!
Buffaloes don´t do weddings; we are the heroes of the true Torajan highlight, the funeral (told ya that death is a big thing here).
10 years have gone by since that lady died and her family has saved up ever since to afford the elaborate ceremony. Her son died in the meantime, and they invited a thousand people to their joint funeral ceremony which lasted a full week.
Even tourists are welcome – just bring a stack of cigarette pack and you will be invited to join the party.
Yeah, lot´s of eating & much else going on at a Toraja funeral. Traditional dances, parades, bull fights,…