Duniart – Photography and Blog by Toine IJsseldijk

Lemo - Tana Toraja, Sulawesi

Torajans are famous for their funeral rituals, which are many and varied. Lemo is one of the oldest burial cliffs in Toraja and dates back to the 16th century.
 
A total of 75 tombs are carved by hand into the side of the 20 meter tall cliff, varying in length from two meters down to less than 50 cm. The remains of the deceased are laid inside the tombs. Placed carefully on balconies in front of the tombs are colorful carved wooden effigies of the dead, called Tau-tau. The Tau-tau are a symbol of social status and each Tau-tau is carved to closely resemble the deceased, with special attention given to details such as wrinkles on the face. Usually jackfruit wood is used for this carving as it tends to yellow with age, to a colour very much like human skin.
 
Most of the older Tau-tau only date back to the 20th century as the wood and fabric deteriorate rapidly in the tropical climate. Many older Tau-tau also have been stolen and sold to collectors around the world.
 
Click any photo for full screen view and to scroll through the Gallery.
error: This content is copyright protected.