Londa – Tana Toraja, Sulawesi
One of the most famous and accessible cave burial site in Tana Toraja is in Londa. Against the walls of a steep hill, coffins hang from cracks in the rocky face. These coffins, or Erong, indicate the level of honour or nobility of the person buried here. The higher the coffin is located on the cliff walls, the higher the degree or status of the deceased.
Lifelike wooden sculptures or effigies complete with clothes, stand in neat rows in cracks hollowed out in the cliff faces, very much like the windows and balconies of a house. These effigies, called Tau-tau, represent the dead who are buried there.
Not far from the hanging graves hides a burial cave many hundreds of years old. The caves may be up to 1000 meters and are filled with hundreds of coffins, while skulls and bones lay round scattered on the cave’s floor. The coffins are arranged according to lineage or family ancestry and relatives regular visit the caves to place the deceased’s favourite clothing or cigarettes next to the coffins.
Locals rent out lanterns and can guide you through the cave’s tunnels, explaining the rituals, meaning and history of Toraja culture.