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PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2012 8:59 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2008 7:33 am
Posts: 155
Location: Beijing
A few brief notes on this part of central Sulawesi...

Sulawesi is mainly known amongst those interested in textiles for its ikat, of which the main weaving centers for the Torajan people were Rongkong and Kalumpang (Galumpang). These notes are about the Rantepao area, which does not seem to have been a major ikat weaving center, though plenty of old cloths were found here in the past that were probably woven elsewhere.

There are 3 main reasons for visiting Rantepao:
Tongkonan: perhaps the best kept traditional houses and rice barns in Indonesia, with fine carved decoration
Torajan culture: strong and active festival culture, especially funerals, at which some traditional costume can be seen
Landscape: very pretty rice terrace scenery

From a textile point of view this is not really the place to see ikat weaving in action, though the Todi' store in town (which is well worth a visit) usually has a weaving demonstration running. Todi' has some nice ikat for sale, mainly from the Kalumpang area (which is also where Threads of Life's Sulawesi ikat comes from, which can be seen at their store in Ubud, Bali). Todi' has more examples than Threads of Life, but the quality is more variable and you need to take time to look at pieces carefully.

We attended a traditional funeral ceremony (which most visitors do, plenty of guides in town who will take you to one). These ceremonies take place many months after the death of the person in question and are lavish affairs. Having a few foreign visitors along seems quite acceptable to Torajans, in fact is welcomed since having guests from overseas honors the deceased person, but you need to go with a guide and follow the protocol. Mourners arrive in groups and look suitably mournful at first, but after the formalities (exchange of gifts, mainly betel and tobacco) are dispensed with the funeral is surprisingly festive. Not quite jolly but not far off.

The mourners (from local families) bring pigs and buffalo, which are slaughtered at the funeral. I will spare forum members photos of farm animals meeting a gory end, instead post some photos of children in traditional outfits who are charged with greeting the groups of mourners and leading them to their seats.

Visitor numbers peak in July and August, which is when most funerals take place and is supposedly the dry season, but weather patterns are erratic and don't always follow the script. Also there are funerals taking place from time to time all year round. We visited in the "wet" season and had good weather and found plenty to look at.


Attachments:
File comment: two attendants (male and female) lead a group of mourners to their seats. The mourners are bringing small gifts of sugar, tobacco and betel to share with the family, and several pigs and one buffalo per family
Toraja-240.jpg
Toraja-240.jpg [ 85 KiB | Viewed 4176 times ]
File comment: the girls wear a kind of cape made of beads, with a large hook design similar to that which was formerly woven in ceremonial ikat hangings
Toraja-227.jpg
Toraja-227.jpg [ 124.56 KiB | Viewed 4176 times ]
File comment: a closer view of the cape made of glass beads. I also saw similar pieces for sale in the local market.
Toraja-214.jpg
Toraja-214.jpg [ 145.68 KiB | Viewed 4176 times ]
Toraja-204.jpg
Toraja-204.jpg [ 83.42 KiB | Viewed 4176 times ]
File comment: is this cute or what...
Toraja-198.jpg
Toraja-198.jpg [ 97.92 KiB | Viewed 4176 times ]

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2012 10:34 am 
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Joined: Sun Jun 29, 2003 1:42 pm
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Location: Canterbury, UK
Hi Chris

Very many thanks for sharing info and lovely pics from your Sulawesi trip both on this thread and on the Sulawesi Ikat thread.

In the way of things I happened to be thinking of Sualwesi last night when I received an email from Thomas Murray alerting me to some new photo galleries on his website and I wondered if I should share with the forum. Two of the new photo galleries are of Sulawesi and one features Tana Toraja and funerals and costumes similar to those shown in your images albeit on slightly older girls http://www.tmurrayarts.com/index.php?cID=1028 (see his link to the photo gallery just under the heading image). For those interested in more images of Sulawesi he has another intro and set of photos at http://www.tmurrayarts.com/journeys/my- ... wesi-2011/ - again see link to photos under the intro photo on his explanatory page.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2012 2:25 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2008 7:33 am
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Location: Beijing
A few photos from Torajan burial sites in the Rantepao area from the same trip. An interesting mix of Catholicism and indigenous custom:
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150730122637588.461859.696067587&type=1

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