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Land of Living Dead

Tana Toraja

November 29, 2015 , , Franky Gosal

I’ve heard Tana Toraja since I was in elementary school. What I’ve known is that Tana Toraja is the place where human corpse could walking around there. I have never seen that by myself, I just heard from some people. So that, I can’t prove whether it’s true or not.

In March 2011, I’ve got the opportunity to visit Tana Toraja. Hopefully I could know more about the urban legend that I always hear about Tana Toraja.

Tana Toraja is one of the most unique place in Indonesia, it is located in the highlands at South Sulawesi province. I finally arrived at Tana Toraja after approximately 8 hours driving from Makassar (the capital city of South Sulawesi) to Tana Toraja district.



The first thing I noticed when I wander around into a village in Tana Toraja is the unique structure with the roof that looks like boat shape called Tongkonan.


If you want to see the wealth of the family, just look at the buffalo horns that are piled high in front of the Tongkonan. Higher = wealthier…



The most unique things about Tana Toraja is the funeral ceremonial called Rambu Solo. The funeral ceremony in Toraja can cost more than hundred Millions or even Billions Rupiah. Usually, the family member would saving money until they have enough money for the funeral. Sometimes it can take months, or even years for them to carry out the funeral ceremony. There is some sacrificial animals during the ceremony, usually pigs and buffaloes. For some nobleman family or wealthy family, they would sacrifice one buffalo called Tedong Bungo, the albino buffalo. Tedong Bungo is very very expensive buffalo, it can cost 200-500 Millions rupiahs for one Tedong Bungo.

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One of the most popular tourist attraction is Ke’te Kesu village. This village is still characterized by traditional lives of Toraja people.


Most of the people of this village have a good mastery in painting and carving. This can be seen among them who are doing carves and paints.



There is also a cemetery at this village. The cemetery is not like the general cemetery, because the corpse doesn’t buried under soil, but on the caves.




There are so many coffins and skulls all around the cave. I’m too afraid to going deeper on the cave, because it is very dark and cold inside the cave. I just take some photos nearer the entrance and then run exit as fast as I can when the tour guide told me that there is a new corpse right on the left of my standing place…

There are also some coffins and skulls in front of the caves.


I have goosebumps now while write this and remember it…


Actually, there are some more beautiful sites at Tana Toraja that I couldn’t visit because of my limited time. Hopefully someday I could come back and visit the other beautiful places at Tana Toraja. Maybe, the next time I visit Tana Toraja, I could see the Rambu Solo ceremony…