Unusual funeral rituals in Indonesia

Unusual funeral rituals in Indonesia

Categories: Asia | Nations

In the picturesque mountainous region of South Sulawesi in Indonesia, there is an ethnic group called the Toraji. These simple people, who profess animism (the belief that all beings, including animals, plants and even inanimate objects or phenomena, have a spiritual essence), practice some of the strangest funeral rituals in the world. This includes the ritual of burying babies in trees, as well as exposing the mummies of people who died a long time ago. Toraja's funeral rituals are an important social event that gathers numerous relatives. Such events last for several days.

Unusual funeral rituals in Indonesia

Unusual funeral rituals in Indonesia

When one of the torajas dies, his relatives have to hold a series of funeral ceremonies called Rambu Solok, which lasts for several days. But the ceremonies do not take place immediately after the death, because usually the toraja family does not have enough funds to cover all the funeral expenses. As a result, they wait-weeks, months, and sometimes years, slowly collecting money. At this time, the deceased is not buried, but embalmed and stored in a house under the same roof with living relatives. Before the funeral, this person is not considered dead, everyone pretends that he is suffering from an illness.

Unusual funeral rituals in Indonesia

When enough funds are collected, ceremonies begin, during which buffaloes and pigs are slaughtered. The sacrifice is accompanied by dancing and music, and the young guys must catch the trickles of blood in long bamboo tubes. The more important the deceased, the more buffaloes are slaughtered. Often dozens of buffaloes and hundreds of pigs are sacrificed. After that, the meat is distributed to the guests who came to the funeral.

Unusual funeral rituals in Indonesia

Then comes the burial ceremony itself, but people from the Toraji tribe are rarely buried in the ground. The deceased are placed either in caves in a rocky mountain, or in wooden coffins that are hung from cliffs. The usual burial is too expensive, and it takes several months to prepare everything. A wooden figure of Tau-tau, which represents the deceased, is placed in the cave with the coffin. She is placed facing out of the cave. In the photo: graves hollowed out in a rocky mountain and decorated with wooden idols of Tau-tau.

Unusual funeral rituals in Indonesia

Coffins are very beautifully decorated, but over time the tree begins to rot, and white bones often fall on the plot of land over which the coffin is suspended.

Unusual funeral rituals in Indonesia

Children are not buried in caves, nor are they hung from rocks. They are buried... in the empty trunks of living trees. If the child died before his teeth began to erupt, he is wrapped in a cloth and placed in an empty place in the trunk of a growing tree, and then closed with a door made of palm fiber. After that, the hole is sealed. It is believed that when the tree begins to heal, it absorbs the child. There can be dozens of children in one tree. In the photo: a tree of children's graves in the village of Tana Toraja.

Unusual funeral rituals in Indonesia

The funeral is over, the guests are fed and returning home, but the rituals are not finished yet. Every few years, in August, a Ma'nene ritual takes place, during which the deceased is exhumed, washed, combed and dressed in everything new. Then these mummies are driven around the village like zombies.

Unusual funeral rituals in Indonesia

The unusual funeral rituals of Tana Toraja attract thousands of tourists and anthropologists every year.

Unusual funeral rituals in Indonesia

Indeed, since 1984, Tana Toraja has been called the second most important tourist destination in Indonesia after Bali.

Unusual funeral rituals in Indonesia

The villagers prepare a mummy for the celebration of Ma'nene.

Unusual funeral rituals in Indonesia

The dead body of a woman is painted.

Unusual funeral rituals in Indonesia

A mummy, fully dressed and ready for the parade.

Keywords: Death | Indonesia | Asia | Peoples | Funeral | Ritual

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