Duniart – Photography and Blog by Toine IJsseldijk

Rambu Solo – Tana Toraja, Sulawesi

September 2020

The Torajans believe that the dead can take their wealth with them into the afterlife, Nirvana. Funerals, called Rambu Solo, are an elaborate and expensive sequence of rituals and ceremonies.
Relatives of the deceased sacrifice up to 100 buffaloes for the nobles, or up to 8 buffaloes and 50 pigs for the middle class. It is not unusual for the surviving relatives to save months or even years for this. They also need months to gather enough of all that is needed in order to carry out the funeral rituals. While waiting for this ceremony to take place, the corpse is not considered completely dead yet, but merely “sick”. Therefore, they embalm the body and store it in a traditional house (tongkonan). Relatives treat the deceased as a living person and give his or her favorite foods, cigarettes, and more. They also place other objects and offerings beside the coffin.
When there’s finally enough money saved, the family goes ahead with the funeral. Eventually they lay the deceased to rest in a decorated coffin and place this in a traditional tomb. these grave tombs are usually chiseled out in a large boulder or a steep rocky cliff nearby.


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