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Rantepao and the Torajan People

Listed under Traditional Cultures in Indonesia.

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Rantepao is in the centre of the area inhabited by the Torajan people, whose animist religions and traditions are still thriving and the main reason most people want to visit. The Torajan are known for their houses, which are entirely unique: on stilts and with elaborate thatched rooves which turn up at both ends in a big banana shaped grin and their funerals. Torajans believe the spirits of the dead go on to another world and that when a person dies they can take their material possessions with them so a Torajan is a very big deal and people are buried in caves cut out of the cliffs and complete with big doors to stop robbers plundering them or else suspended from the cliff tops. These and the houses are what people come to see. Tau-taus, carved statues, with their arms extended line the balconies of the caves or one of the biggest grave sites at Lemo. Londa is one of the main hanging grave sites and also has natural caves which are also used as burial sites. If you’re not un-nerved by the idea of it you can go on a guided tour of the caves (beware there is a chance you will see corpses in various states of decomposition, but death is a big part of the Torajan culture so if you want to experience it this is the best way.). The Torajan know the appeal of their unique crafts and there are plenty of chances to pick up a tau-tau or other handmade traditional treasure (you’ll see lots of thing decorated with buffalo motifs - one of the main forms of Torajan wealth. If you can arrange it plan to be in Ratepao for market day which is once every six days.

Written by  World Reviewer Staff.

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