Tana Toraja, Indonesia. Tana Toraja beholds a unique and fascinating culture, a place where strong Christian faith mixes with ancient traditions. The season for funerals lasts three months in a year (June-August) and those people who decide to die another time must wait. The preseved body is kept at home in a coffin or just in a bed. Sometimes the waiting time can extend to years. This all depends on the family's ability to collect a sufficient amount of money for a ceremony. Another important factor is to be sure most of the deceased's relatives can attend the funeral. Sometimes hundreds of them attend and then one day might not be enough to carry out the 'inviting guests ceremony'. The funeral consist of a number of different events and may last even two weeks. The statues portraying the deceased withesses it all 'sitting and watching'. During the processions both the deceased and the statues are carried around the village or to the church (although most of Torajans are Catholics or Protestants they still cultivate old traditions). The processions are cheerful. People scream wildly, the coffin is tossed frequently. Boys or even older men kick themselves and splash each other with water. An important part of a funeral ceremony is the day of sacrifying pigs and water buffalos. The more powerful the person who died was seen to be and the more wealthy the family, the more buffalos are slaughtered at the death feast. The act of slaughtering is in one way a manifestation of a human rule over this strong animal. The meat is chopped and distributed among the funeral guests and neighbouring villages. The last day of the funeral is the burial day. Coffins with bodies, as well as the statues, are carried to a burial place where they are finally lain to rest.
Tana Toraja region, Sulawesi, Indonesia. The road junction close to Rantepao town. The monument shows a water buffalo as a significant animal in Torajan culture.
The statue portraying a deceased woman is carried to the funeral ceremony site. During incoming week she will be a witness of the following parts of the ceremony.
The statue portraying a deceased man is prepared for the procession. The statue as well as the coffin will be carried during the walk in the village and return to the ceremony place at the end.
The woman looks at the body of her late husband died few days before of a heart attack. It's very common in Tana Toraja to wait months or even years for the ceremony (the funeral season is a period from June to August).
The young woman mourns over her dead father.
Feeding a buffalo before the funeral. This animal will be publicly slaughtered on one of the following days. The sacrifice of buffalos is the most important part of the funeral events.
The most important part of a funeral ceremony in Tana Toraja region is sacrificing water buffalos. The more powerful the person who died and the more wealthy the family, the more buffalos are slaughtered at the death feast.
Watching the buffalos' slaughtering ceremony.
Chopping and distributing the meat of slaugtered buffalos.
Boys in traditional Torajan clothes.
The procession of the funeral guests around pigs prepared to be slaugtered.
A meal time - distribution of food among the guests.
Posing for a photograph in front of the coffin.
The old photo of the deceased man.
On one of the days of the funeral men carry the coffin in a cheerful procession around the village.
Singing religious songs.
A performer hired for the funeral to entertain people.
A funeral service before the burial.
The final ceremony of placing a coffin in a tomb.
Inside the tomb. The statue of the deceased is placed among the other members of a family burried there previously.
There are several types of graves used in Toraja culture. One of them is digged in a rock. The statues representing the deceased are put in the grave together with a coffin or placed on a balcony nearby.
An old coffin placed in a cave many years ago.
The end of a day. A Torajan villager in front of his house.