Tantalising Toraja Land – Tana Toraja

Tana Toraja Title Pic

20th November 2010

Woke early…anxious to see the view from my verandah – it was trully spectacular!! Oh, how I LOVE Toraja Land…Tana Toraja! I had a full day of adventures planned!

Headed off with my hire car and a local guide at 9am…firstly we went to the local market in Makale, which is held only once a week {every Sunday}, so all the locals go here to buy their everyday goods for the week and also to buy pigs and buffaloes for any upcoming family funeral ceremonies. The animal section was huge – I have never seen so many pigs and buffaloes in my life!

The white buffaloes are the most expensive and can be sold for up to 200 million Rupiah! There was a huge selection of buffaloes, some big and old, some still young and small, some black, some white and some multi-coloured, all sprawled across a huge field!!

Tana Toraja buffalos at market pic collage

The pigs were what affected me the most, I didn’t like hearing their squeals as they were bundled into sacks or tied up with thick rope on bamboo planks or in wheelbarrows being carried off by their new owners. Then the pigs were bundled into a bemo or thrown on the back of a motorbike. The pig section of the market, showed hundreds or thousands of pigs, which were lined up in rows for viewing before buying.

Tana Toraja pigs at market pic collage

After walking around the whole animal section of the market, we moved to the undercover section, which sold different varieties of rice {white, red, black etc}, chillies…soooo many chillies, spices {including the famous Tana Toraja black spice}, coffee {another famed produce of Tana Toraja}, snacks, fruits and vegetables, clothes – they even had a fish and meat section {which didn’t leave much to the imagine!}. It was a huge market and totally packed with locals, at times it was difficult to walk!

Tana Toraja Market Pic Collage 1

Tana Toraja Market Pic Collage 2

I enjoyed looking at the traditionally hand-crafted goods such as; ikat {woven cloth}, the small black velvet bags that the local people use to store their betel nut and the well-known orange beads, which the local women traditionally wear {and I couldn’t resist…I had to buy some!}. And the weaving stalls were amazing….tempting to buy a hat but I knew it would be just too awkward to carry around with me for the rest of my trip.

Tana Toraja Mareket woven goods

Tana Toraja snapshot of my souvenirs

After wandering around the market for hours, we headed to one of the traditional villages, we drove along the Sa’dan River to get to the village of Sa’dan where the local weaving {ikat} is made, where of course I did lots of shopping of the traditional ikat to add to my already huge collection of ikat and batik from across Indonesia.

Tana Toraja Ibu weaving

Past all the ikat stalls and the beautiful array of various colours, sizes, motifs and styles… I came across a cluster of traditional houses. The traditional houses are called ‘Tongkonan‘. Opposite the Tongkonan is another similar looking traditional house, which is used as a granary, to store the family’s rice.

The Tongkonan is a most important aspect of traditional life in Tana Toraja, their houses are the place for family gatherings and their houses may not be bought or sold. The roof towers up high above the body of the house and peaks up higher on each end. There is controversy over what the roof of the Tongkonan actually derives from. Some believe that the roof represents the horns of a buffalo and others believe the roof represents the bow and the stern of a boat. The design is very similar to the Batak traditional houses of North Sumatra. Another aspect that the Tongkonan share with the Batak houses {and some traditional houses in Flores too} is the buffalo horns that hang on the pole out the front of the house. The amount of horns represents the wealth and status of the family.

Tana Toraja Tongkonan Village Pic Collage

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