Tana Toraja, Sulawesi

The island of Sulawesi, known as Celebes in colonial days, was the central part of my trip to Indonesia. After one week each in Java and Bali, I spent six weeks here. I chose it for my focus because while it had exotic cultures and wild areas with much nature to experience, it also had enough in the way of highways and buses to get around on without spending a lot of money on hired transportation.

Tana Toraja is a region in the southern highlands of the island of Sulawesi. Although nominally Christianized by Dutch settlers, they cling to some exotic aspects of the death cult religion that preceded the colonists. Central among this are their funerals in which many animals are killed and sacrificed. They are also known for their strangely-shaped homes, that mimic boats.

Mosquito netting over my hotel bed, a necessity for this tropical area. It was quite a task at each new hotel to figure out how to set this thing up.

The front of a home in Tana Toraja.

A local walking the paths.

Small dolls, about two feet tall, watch over local tombs.

Fish in the rice paddies eat the mosquitoes before they can proliferate. As such, the mosquitoes provide food for the locals main source of protein. At least until pesticides used on the rice kill the fish.

More rice paddies.

A coffin inside a tomb.

More views inside a tomb.

Rantepao, the main city in Tana Toraja.

Taking a hike on a local mountain.

Roadside tombs.

More rice paddies.

Looking down on traditional Tana Toraja homes.

Children pay in front one of the homes that I trekked to.

When of the beaten path on Sulawesi, you stay in the home of the village headman, who has extra rooms to rent to visitors.

The next series of shots are from a Torajan funeral. Westerners are welcome to visit and watch.

This animal's throat has already been cut - you can see the gash. It is bleeding, but has not collapsed yet.

This guy collects the blood as it gushes out. It is used in cooking.

The animals will be butchered and the meat will be distributed among the attendees based on some complex criteria of status and debt.

More Torajan houses.

Continue to the central highlands of Sulawesi