lima, peru
Traditional Tana Toraja
December 9, 2015

Selamat datang! My name is Toni and I am a real albino buffalo from Tana Toraja, the cultural epicenter of Sulawesi.

Albino buffalo in Tana Toraja
Albino buffaloes are worth up to US10.000,-

Life at home revolves around 2 things. No. 1: DEATH.

Did you know that Toraja families keep the deceased at home until his funeral?

Coffins & skulls at Kete Kesu
Coffins & skulls at Kete Kesu

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.

Traditional hanging graves in Pana
Village trek past the graves in Pana

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.

Baby graves in trees
Baby graves in trees near Suaya

The remains of babies were actually buried in trees so that they would continue to grow. And then there are the Tau Tau.

Tau tau in Lemo
Tau tau in Lemo

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.

Buffaloes sold at the market in Bolu
Hundreds of buffaloes sold at the weekly market in Bolu

In your country you guys might fill your garages with fancy cars and bikes, but here buffaloes are the status symbol of every family!

A buffalo in every Torajan backyard
A buffalo in every Torajan backyard

Just look at the Tongkonan, our traditional house. Even the shape of the house roof looks like my horns.

Tongkonan, the traditional house in Toraja
Tongkonan. Traditional house in Tana Toraja

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.

Bolu market

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).

Traditional Toraja funeral ceremony
Traditional Torajan funeral ceremony near Rantepao

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.

Toraja funeral near Rantepao
Toraja dress in black, just like Western funerals

Even tourists are welcome – just bring a stack of cigarette pack and you will be invited to join the party.

Selfie at the funeral ceremony near Rantepao
Selfie at the funeral ceremony in Batan

Yeah, lot´s of eating & much else going on at a Toraja funeral. Traditional dances, parades, bull fights,…

Busy funeral ceremony

…animal sacrifices…

Animal sacrifices at Torajan funerals