If you observe it from the air, Sulawesi can be seen as a puzzle, consisting of four major peninsulas growing from the mother island, combined with numerous tiny islets which are beautifully ornamenting turquoise seas. The closer you approach the land, the more spectacular landscape is, with its intensive shades of green accenting the beauty of the rice terraces.
Island Time Machine
At this segment, we will step into our time machine in order to track the history of this fascinating Mother Nature’s artwork, so, firstly, we’ll travel to 1512, when Portuguese people found this beautiful island and named it Celebes.
Moving on through different intervals of history, you will notice that the timeline there, is mostly marked by the lifestyles of native ethnic groups, but also by the pirates’ adventures and rich iron ore deposits surrounding the lake of Matano.
Explore amazing Tana Toraja
Once you find yourself in the Torajaland, a beautiful area between wonderful mountains and fertile valleys of the southern Sulawesi island, you will be enchanted by the Toraja, one of the most distinctive indigenous groups in Indonesia.
Their culture and tradition, ancient animistic beliefs, and rituals revolving around death celebration remained intact through centuries. You may find them pretty confusing, but everything they do has the real meaning.
Buffalo Houses of Tana Toraja
All you have to do is to step into their village, and you will be able to give the answer by yourself. The first thing which will blow your mind is the way their traditional houses named tongkonan were built, with their striking rooftops which resemble the shape and the look of the buffalo horns. In front of every house, there is a rice barn, which symbolizes family’s wealth.
Wooden and narrow, with tiny windows, they are based on the stilts, in order to reduce chances of being flooded when heavy rain results with torrents. Every family in the village has different hierarchical position in the village, and it is easily noticed by:
- The number of the steps at the entrance of the houses (which are always facing north)
- The amount of hanging buffalo horns.
In contrast with massive houses’ exterior, you will be surprised by the reduced space inside them. When entering the house, you will notice that it is divided into three levels.
- Furnishings and the most precious family belongings are kept on the highest level.
- The middle level is reserved for family gathering and it is used as housing.
- Animals are kept on the lowest level.
This manner of house division is related to Toraja beliefs. According to them, the world is divided into three levels. Occupied land, where people are inhabited, is the intermediate level. On the top level are gods and ancestors, and the lowest, darkest level is reserved for animals.