Toraja House

Toraja House

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E-37-2-TORAJA-HOSITS–The traditional house of the Toraja tribe, who live on the island of Sulawesi, is called Tongkonan. It is the local word for “sit” or “gather together to hear ancient tradition and to dis­cuss matters relating to the family”.

Looking like a boat from the distance, the house is decorat­ed with carvings which have symbolic significance and indicate the social status of the people dwelling there. In general only the homes of the very important families are highly decorated. The Kabongo (buffalo head) and the Katik (chicken head or dragon) motifs signify the homes of teachers of adat (mores). While the placement of a decorated pole, TulakS omba, at the front and the back of the house indicates a community leader.

Whether the structure is to house a person of great importance or another of a more humble status, there areceremonies which must be performed before the Tongkonan can be inhabited.

These rituals are called Mangrara Banua and vary slightly according to the status of the person whose home is being dedicated.

The rituals are held when the construction is near completion and can last as long as three days and include the sacrificing of buffaloes, pigs, and chickens.

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