PHOTOS OF TORAJA COMMUNITIES
with background music
ARTISTIC IMPRESSIONS OF TANA TORAJA
TORAJA DANCES &
MATERIAL SYMBOLS IN THE TORAJA SOCIETY
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The mysterious mummy
As you go from Rantepao to Makale, and from there on to the Pongtiku Airport at Rantetayo, you turn right and gradually climb up a road that takes you through a myriad of the most spectacular panoramic views. Ask the villagers for the village of Dende, and they will direct you. You need good transport for this track, since the road turns into a gravel and stone dirt road after you have progressed a few kilometers from Rantetayo. Especially during the wet monsoon, make sure you take a four-wheel drive jeep or a trail motorcycle and a guide.
The road that leads up to Dende takes you through the glowing hills near Makale and Madandan, which turn into rugged mountain ranges, with steep terraced rice fields and breathtaking views. The vegetation gradually changes from luscious green in the valleys to softer and more modest green in the mountains where mostly pine trees (buangin) and mountainous ferns grow. Nature, as anywhere in Toraja, is abundant and you will have a good chance of spotting some of the many species of raptures common to Toraja, such as the Brahminy Kite or the Crested Serpent Eagle.
In the village of Dende, you ask to see the Village Head (Kepala Desa) and
he will show you the mummy which is kept in his house. The mummy (they call
her Susan) is said
to be over a hundred years old, and the villagers claim it is a child. The
head, though, is surprisingly small for the body, and it looks more like
a tiny adult rather than a child. It is a neatly dressed human being of about
90 cm whose skin in still intact, with perfect and slightly protruding teeth
and somewhat thinned hair. Its bent fingers pop out from under the sleeves
and the villagers keep putting coins in its hands as a sign of reverence
or hope for good fortune and blessing. The people who gathered around us
as we were taking photographs, said that the mummy used to be 10 cm taller
and that it used to fit perfectly into its little red 'cradle'.