Cultures of Indonesia: Tongkonan and Traditions Toraja

Tongkonan and Traditions Toraja –  Indonesia is a country that has a variety of ethnic groups, from the west end to the east end. Each ethnic group in Indonesia has a different life pattern.

The pattern of life is what makes Indonesia become rich in culture and diversity. Included in the diversity include ethnicity, social systems, kinship systems, customs, culture and beliefs held by each tribe.

When viewed from western Indonesia you can find Malay, Kubu, Batak, Mentawai ethnic groups that have cultural characteristics. Meanwhile, when crossing the western part, it can be found Bedouin, Javanese, Dayak tribes with a diversity of local wisdom. Whereas in the eastern part of Indonesia, you can find Bugis, Bima, Papua, Tana Toraja tribes which also have cultural authenticity.

Of the many tribes in Indonesia, there are tribes that have unique life patterns, and are different from the others, namely the Tana Toraja tribe.

The Toraja tribe is the result of an acculturation process between local (native) inhabitants who inhabit the mainland of South Sulawesi and migrants, the majority of whom are migrants or immigrants from Tongkin Bay (mainland China).

The acculturation process between the two communities began with the anchoring of a large number of Indo-Chinese immigrants around the headwaters located in the Enrekang area.

Then the immigrants built their settlements in this area. Tana Toraja tribe who settled in the mountains in the northern part of South Sulawesi, Indonesia.

The population of the tribe is estimated to be around 650,000 people, with 450,000 of the population still residing in Tana Toraja district.

The majority of the religions of the Toraja tribe are Christian, while the majority adheres to the Islamic religion and animistic beliefs, known as Aluk To Dolo.

From the government of the State of Indonesia itself has recognized that the belief is part of the Hindu Dharma religion.

A. Tongkonan Traditional House of Toraja

Tana Toraja, Makassar, Indonesia
Tana Toraja, Makassar, Indonesia

Buildings or architecture, ranging from building traditional houses called Tongkonan to the cemetery building.

Tongkonan traditional house is a typical traditional house of South Sulawesi which has a unique shape similar to the shape of a boat from the kingdom of China in ancient times. Tongkonan traditional house has another function besides being a house.

In their culture, the tongkonan house is considered a mother, while alang sura (rice barn) is her father. So do not be surprised if you visit Tana Toraja will see a row of traditional tongkonan houses facing each other with Alang Sura. This is because the community considers Alang Sura and the tongkonan house to be their husband.

In addition, the tongkonan house is divided into three types, namely the laying tongkonan which is the highest place of authority generally used as a place of government. Second, the tongkonan pekamberan which is a house belonging to family members who have authority in local customs and traditions. While the third, tongkonan batu which is a traditional house that is specifically owned by ordinary people. The architecture or characteristics of the tongkonan house itself is adjusted or follows the model of the village where the house was built.

B. Unique traditions in Tana Toraja

Local wisdom of the Toraja tribe and other unique traditions of Tana Toraja and included in the uniqueness of this tribe is that the culture is so thick and still survives today, especially in terms of the ritual of death and burial of people who have died. There are various types of graves in Tana Toraja, including:

1. Kuburan Batu Liang, Toraja Traditions and Customs

Burrows are graves that require special expertise in making them. A very large stone will be made holes to store the bodies of their relatives who have died.

2. Kuburan Pohon (passilliran)

Used to bury a baby who died when he was under 6 months old, which was buried in a Tarra tree. This is so that the baby can drink tree sap instead of breast milk.

3. Kuburan Gantung, Traditions and Customs of Toraja Adat

The type of grave that is also the most unique thing in Tana Toraja is the hanging grave which is a burial by inserting a body in erong (a typical Toraja coffin) which is then hung on rock cliffs. This type of grave is usually coupled with a grave cave.

4. Kuburan patane

The next grave is the common patane grave in this community so that it can be found everywhere. The grave has various forms of models, ranging from houses, tongkonan forms, to shaped like a big chest.

5. Kuburan Goa, traditions of Toraja Adat Istiadat

Kuburan terakhir yang juga unik dari Tana Toraja adalah kuburan goa. Mayat-mayat yang telah mati akan mereka tempatkan di dalam gua dan hingga kini masih tetap dilestarikan.

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C. Toraja Culture and Tradition

Not only local wisdom is seen in terms of the building alone, but also from the traditions and customs in Tana Toraja this is unique because no one likes it. Some of the traditional ceremonies include:

1 Thanksgiving ceremony (Rambu Tuka)

This traditional ceremony is a ceremony related to the celebration of a wedding, a celebration of harvest, and the inauguration of a new or completed traditional house. In this event will bring all family families, and is usually accompanied by sacrificing chicken, pigs, buffalo as gratitude to God.

2 Funeral services (Rambu Solo)

This traditional ceremony is the biggest ceremony in Tana Toraja held by the grieving family. The family gave up or offered many large buffaloes, pigs, and other animals during the ceremony, adjusted to the social status of the bereaved family.

3. Ma’pasilaga Tedong, Toraja Traditions and Customs

The tradition of ma’pasilaga tedong is a water buffalo race which is one of the entertainments at a funeral. This buffalo fight is only done by two buffaloes.

4 Sisemba, Traditions and Customs of Toraja Adat Istiadat

Sisemba is a performance program of a group of men or boys who try to hit and kick an accomplice using only their feet. This show is the same as boxing, but it has become a tradition in Tana Toraja.

5. Rituals for changing body clothes (Ma’nene)

This ceremony is one of the other unique things that is characteristic of the Tana Toraja tribe, namely a ritual or habit in a funeral procession that is unique but also feels scary. A corpse that has died for years and is buried in a high cliff, or a cave grave, or a patani grave will be ransacked by changing all clothes and dressing it like a living person

Today the tone can still be witnessed at the ceremony in Tana Toraja, but the corpse is no longer running as it used to. However, only limited to changing clothes the body and then move as people walk.

6. Ma’tinggoro Tedong (buffalo slaughter)

This tradition is a cultural tradition from Tana Toraja in which a man will cut the buffalo’s neck which has been tethered to a large rock by using a sharp machete. The tradition is the final procession of the solo sign ceremony.

D. Final Words and Closing Tongkonan and Traditions Toraja

Well, that is the description of the Local Wisdom, Traditions and Customs of the Toraja Istadadat which from the past until now we can still meet in Tana Toraja, South Sulawesi. Hopefully this explanation can add insight and useful for us all.

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