Discover the Highlands Wisdom of Toraja

15 May 2019 Tana Toraja Regency, South Sulawesi, Indonesia

Torajan Tongkonan
Toraja is one of four ethnics in South Sulawesi Indonesia. This ethnic is very unique due to its value and culture. Most parts of its territory are rocks which makes it to be limited in land. Based on that circumtances, ancient Torajans are relying on a very restricted resources. 

According to Torajans living condition, this tribe turns to be self-fulfilling ecosystem. Torajan ancestors select the older and most captivating survival art particularly in terms of harmony as they have a very limited resources.   They believe that human, animals and plants have mark that attaches on them as one system. They believe that each living thing need to take care each other in order to survive. There is a philosophy that they call as Tallu Lolona which refers to the dependency among them (human, animals and plants). Those three elements will suffer the consequences once each of them is harmed. It is therefore, all living things have no choice but to protect each other for surviving. 

In Toraja, they have a religious ancestor back to their mythical past called Aluk Todolo. This is where Tallu Lolona was born. Aluk Todolo taught the Torajans to build respect to all living things in order to keep the balance in life. The living things in his teaching include the parents, elders, and others (animals and plants). 

Interestingly, Tojarans are able to keep this philosophy lives on despite the modernization in making them no longer dependent on harmony to survive. 

They, Torajans, believe that they are able to keep and will strive the balance of the living things, in this case human, animals and plants. Take the prized water buffalo as an example, this water is often used for bathing and relaxation. This instance clearly shows that people in Toraja are very gentle towards their surrounding nature, not only to human being venturing into their land but also to  animals. Also, they keep maintaing the plants in their environment using both usable sources of nutrients and as life circle path. 

The teaching of Tallu Lolona represents the ancestral spirit among Torajans in mythical highland. This teaching has created an ultimate bonding between each other (all living things). It becomes the solemn guard that can watch over them both in silence and in crowd. This bonding exists through inside the veins of every breathing organism and spread through the society. 

For Torajans, a house is not only a place to take shelter but also as a place where all existing matter and space considered as a whole which they call as their own universe. A house as well as home for Torajans is called Tongkonan. This Tongkonan architecture is derivied from Torajan civilization and it becomes their own traditional house ever since. This house symbolizes a very detail relation among generations that refers to upholding value and peace among them. 

Back to Torajan history, there was a related blood clan called Ma’rapu. In this clan they had an elder who was responsible for teaching about their ancestral ways of life within his Tongkonan, the elder was called Parengnge’. His teaching explained that a Tongkonan is like a set of laws and values for each family that required seven ethnic dance to be executed. Until then, this seven ethnic dance passed through generation in order to keep their culture alive. 

To be informed that building Tongkonan is not as simple as we might think. It, on the other hand, requires at least five confidential stages that perform in a ceremony. This type of ritual surely demands a complicated requirements as well as high expenses to be done. For that reason each family member needs to share the cost and work hand in hand  to perform the ritual successfully. Prior to that, a Tongkonan cannot be built without having a traditional council approval. It is therefore, this Tongkonan becomes a sacred house for Torajan family. 

Fascinatingly, as Tongkonan has become a sacred house for Torajans, it becomes a place for them to give birth, to bold love and to return to as their final resting place. As a result, Torajans will always have a circle back to their sacred house no matter how far they travel.  

To sum up, Toraja ethnic has confidence in respecting among living things (human, animals and plants) and live under Tongkonan, a sacred house that requires seven ethnic dance to be built. Furthermore, The bond of love between Torajans not only refers to related blood circle but also through affection and respect in their daily life. 

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