Toraja, also known as Tana Toraja, is located in two districts in South Sulawesi province, Toraja District, and North Toraja District. In Toraja, there is a tribe known as Toraja tribe who live in the mountains with the original Austronesian culture similar to the existing culture in Nias, North Sumatra.
The uniqueness of Toraja cultural tradition and belief that is still holding firm that one of the attractions of Tana Toraja and make Tana Toraja as one tourist destination in South Sulawesi.
Prior to the 19th century, Toraja tribe still adheres to animism, in the 1900’s came Christian missionaries from the Netherlands who spread Christianity in Toraja where Christianity is now the majority religion in Toraja marked by the statue of Jesus as high as about 40 meters. The statue is similar to that in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil so that Tana Toraja also dubbed as Rio De Janeiro Van Celebes (Celebes is the name of Sulawesi Island before). And in the 1970s Torajans were increasingly open to the outside world.
One of the traditions that exist in Tana Toraja is to store or precisely bury the corpse in caves, cliffs or large tree trunks. Before being stored or buried in caves, cliffs or large tree trunks, sometimes the corpse is buried in advance with a period of months can be months or even years. The body was treated like a sick person. The corpse is buried in advance preserved with leaves and special spices that are smeared throughout the body from the corpse. Now, in addition to the use of leaves and spices, some also use Formalin material to preserve the corpse.
Another tradition that is still associated with death is the tradition of “Tau-Tau”, the tradition of making a statue of the deceased person. This statue is made according to the social standing of the deceased. For Torajans, death is not a farewell to the living. The relationship between the living and the dead is done through a ritual called “Ma’neneini” or the purification of the corpse. In the ritual, the corpses were paraded around the village, but since many Toraja people have embraced Christianity and some parts of Islam, the tradition of parading the corpse has gradually begun to disappear and be abandoned slowly.
Remnants of the traditions and beliefs of animism ever embraced by the Toraja community can be seen from the tombs on the cliffs called Londa, where the statue of Tau-Tau is also placed. In Toraja, you can also see large stones prehistoric relics of the Neolithic era that still stands firmly.