Levels of Toraja House

There are different types of tongkonans depending on the status or class of the group, as well as the area where it is located.

The tongkonan is built on three levels each serving a separate function. The 'sulluk' is underside of house where the buffaloes are kept. On the second level is where the family live and the third is said to be 'where the cat sleeps'.

Toraja House [Tongkonan]

The second level is divided into three parts.

The " tangdo' " is the northern room which is higher and reserved for the older people, like the grandparents and guests.

The " sali " or centre room is lower and is divided into the eastern and western parts. The eastern part serves as a kitchen with rocks placed to serve as a fireplace and a hanging tray used to store wood for burning.

The western part of this centre room is the sphere of the dead, where the dead bodies are laid out during the funeral ceremony. It functions as a dining room at other times.

The southern room or "sumbung" is the sphere of the dead and is used for some rituals. Otherwise it serves as a bedroom for the father, mother and children.

Toraja House - Levels of Toraja House
Toraja House

The exterior carvings on the wooden planks symbolise different aspects of the social life of the people. Only four colours are used in the decorations. Black which is associated with death, yellow for God's blessing, white means purity and red represents human life.
The buffalo and chicken-head carvings symbolise leadership and are found only on these tongkonan belonging to adat leaders.

As the tongkonan is costly to build, only a small percentage of the people can afford them. Others live in more modern-style houses.

Rice barns or "alang" are part of the tongkonan and are a proof of the wealth of the owner. It position be faced with tongkonan.
The lower floor is open and is used for family meetings and to entertain guests. The upper floor is to store rice and is made of bamboo matting. To prevent rats and mice entering this floor, the posts used to erect them are smooth round palm tree trunks, too slippery to climb.

Toraja Rice Barns - Levels of Toraja House
Toraja Rice Barns

The completion of a Tongkonan is celebrated with ceremonies and feasting, with the participation of the ramage who help contribute to the costs. No nails are used in the construction of a tongkonan, and the roof is mainly thatch.


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History of Toraja House

The traditional house of Toraja is called 'TONGKONAN'.

The Tongkonan of the Torajans is a kinship house belonging to a family unit. Made of wood, it is raised on piles with the roof rising on each end, like the bow and stern of a ship. High gables project in front and poles support the gable peak. The walls consist of panels, decorated with painted engravings of a geometrical design, the most prominent of which are stylized buffalo heads and bird's heads. Rows, of bufallo horns are attached to the front pole. Each house has a rice barn facing it.

There are several versions of the origin of the tongkonan house and its shape. According to some it resembles the boats in which the Torajan ancestors sailed up the Sa'dan river. As they had no houses they turned their boats into dwelling places, therefore the shape of a boat.

Toraja House
Toraja House
Toraja Rice Barns
Toraja Rice Barns

Another version is that the tongkonan represents the cosmos and the roof symbolises the sky. In keeping with ancient traditions, the front is on the northern side, as northeast is the sphere of life.

North and east are the realm of gods, and the front door faces this direction so gods can enter through the front door. According to Toraja cosmology, the earth has a head which is in the north and the tail in the opposite direction. It is taboo to build a house in any other direction.

A Tongkonan founded by an ancestor is where his or her descendants belong and form a kin group or ramage. Because of the ramage system, the Tongkonan is ordered hierarchically and a person's status is defined by the tongkonan to which he or she belongs.

The tongkonan is the centre of rituals and the social centre of the ramage. The name itself is derived from 'tongkon' which means to sit or participate in a funeral ceremony.


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"Where Toraja People Located ?"

category  : History and Culture

Toraja people inhabit Celebes Island-Indonesia, to be exact located at north side South Celebes Province that constitute large area mountain up to the midle of the island. 

Toraja People

In 19 century the Toraja ethnic group cover up 4 big culturated in group, they are :
1. West Toraja: Kulawi, Kaeli, Sagie, to Napu, to Besaa, to Bada, Rampi and Leboni.
2. East Toraja is called Toraja Bare'e at Poso.
3. Toraja Bungku-Mori at Luwuk, to Laki at Kendari and Kolaka, to Mangkoka.
4. South Toraja is called Toraja Sa'dan or Toraja Tae' it's covered region: Makale-Rantepao, Mamasa, Duri, 1st Noling river (Jenne Maeja), RFA-Lamasi and at onderafdeling Masamba.

Toraja Panoramic

Majority of  Toraja people located in mountain range, while inhabitants Luwu and Malili reside at through out beach area.
Even so, they have an equal language, custom or culture and taboo.

Nowadays, that recognize as Torajanese are ethnic group of South Toraja.

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