The Funeral Rites of Torajaland – Rantepao, Indonesia - Atlas Obscura

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The Funeral Rites of Torajaland

Where cemeteries are carved into the side of cliffs and infants are buried in the hollows of trees. 


Carved in the cliffs of Torarjaland are the eerie cliff cemeteries of the Toraja. The funeral rites of the Toraja are some of the most elaborate in the world. After a death in the Toraja Society, an enormous feast is held, in which water buffalo and pigs are ritually slaughtered and served. The deceased are then put into a stone grave carved out of the cliffside or in coffins hanging from the rocks. A wooden effigy or tau-tau is put up near the grave to look out over the land. The effigies are tightly packed together, with generations of wooden replicas of deceased villagers standing shoulder to shoulder looking down upon trespassers for all eternity. Babies are not buried in rocks but in a tree so they will grow while the tree is growing, too.

Know Before You Go

Tana Toraja has two types of popular traditional ceremonies namely Rambu Solo and Rambu Tuka. Rambu Solo is a funeral ceremony. Rambu Tuka is a ceremony over a newly renovated traditional house.

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