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Tana Toraja Traditional Settlement


Tana Toraja Traditional Settlement is a series of 10 traditional settlements or constituents of them, such as burial or ceremonial grounds. The properties are scattered within Tana Toraja Regency in the Province of South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Tana-Toraja occupies about 3.205 km2 of a relatively hilly terrain with plateaus rising from 300 to 2,800 meters above sea level.

 The nominated Tana Toraja Traditional Settlement consists of 10 sites which are dispersed in the Tana Toraja Regency (see part I). Traditionally, a Toraja settlement consists of a compound of houses (tongkonan) and granaries (alangs), burials (liang), ceremonial grounds with menhirs (rante), rice-fields, bamboo forests, and grazing ground or pasture for buffalo and pigs. However, not all the nominated sites possess all the settlement components, on account of developmental changes in each site. A brief description of the nominated sites is provided in part I Identification of the Property. The following descriptions present some complementary information about each site.

The properties of the proposed Tana Toraja Traditional Settlement can be briefly described as follows:

1. Pallawa Site

Pallawa site is also a compound of houses and granaries. In total there are 11 houses and 15 granaries. Like many Toraja compounds, the Pallawa houses and granaries are arranged in two parallel rows aligned east-west direction. The houses face north, while the granaries face south. The entrance is situated in the western side of the compound. The ceremonial ground lies about 350 meters to the east.

2. Bori Parinding Site

The site of Bori Parinding is a combination of ceremonial grounds and burials. The ceremonial ground is an open space used for traditional ceremonies, including rituals for the dead and thanksgiving. More than a hundred menhirs stand on the ceremonial ground, each representing a feast of merit performed in the past by a person of high status. Human remains are placed in stone chambers carved out of huge stone boulders, which lies scattered around the ceremonial ground. There are five tongkonan compound spread around the area. Bamboo is now planted in some places around the ceremonial ground to replace the extinct bamboo forest of the traditional settlement.

3. Kande Api Site

The site of Kande Api consists of a compound of houses and granaries, ceremonial ground and burial places. There are 4 houses and 11 granaries within the compound. The houses and granaries stand respectively in the southeast and northwest, facing each other. An open space of about 20 meters wide runs the length of the compound, separating the houses and granaries. The ceremonial ground is an elevated piece of land lying about 75 meters southwest of the compound. A church has been built in the north-eastern corner, surrounded by a considerable number of standing menhirs. Towering limestone cliffs lie some 25-50 meters north of the compound. In the past, the foot of these hills served as a burial site for the Kande Api people.

4. Nanggala Site

Nanggala site is principally a compound of 2 houses (tongkonan) and 16 granaries (alang), arranged in rows and aligned east-west. The houses and granaries lie respectively on the southern and northern ends of the compound, facing each other. Between them, an open space is used for social interaction and family gatherings. The compound is surrounded by a low stone wall with an entrance on the western side. To the east lies the ceremonial ground (rante) and graveyard, where several wooden coffin houses (patane) are placed.

5a. Buntu Pune Site

Formerly, the sites of Buntu Pune and Rante Karassik belonged to one integrated settlement. Buntu Pune was the dwelling compound and Rante Karassik was the ceremonial ground. Although these sites are now separated due to recent development, the sites still function as they did in the past. In this nomination, therefore, both sites are considered as a single unit of traditional settlement and numbered 5a and 5b respectively.

5b. Rante Karassik Site

The site of Rante Karassik is a ceremonial ground on a sloping hill. As mentioned above, this site is actually a part of the Buntu Pune traditional settlement. Until today, the Buntu Pune people still use the ground for certain ceremonies, in particular those connected with death. Since Rante Karassik is situated quite far from the Buntu Pune compound, the two sites appear to be quite separate. Uniting them is no longer possible, since recent development has resulted in a dense population of the area in between.

6. Ke'te Kesu' Site

Among the nominated sites, Ke'te' Kesu' is the most complete settlement. The site consists of a compound of houses and granaries, burial place, ceremonial ground, ricefields and water-buffalo pasture. The cultural landscape around Ke'te' Kesu' makes this area one of the most beautiful places in Tana Toraja.

Ke'te Kesu' compound comprises 6 Tongkonan houses and 12 granaries. The houses and granaries are laid out in the traditional arrangement and one of the houses serves as a museum. To the north, at a distance of about 50 meters, lies the ceremonial ground, displaying more than 20 menhirs.

7. Pala' Toke' Site

The site of Pala Toke is principally a burial place located on a towering limestone hill, from where a rice field extends to the north, east and west. A compound of 4 houses and 5 granaries, as well as a ceremonial ground displaying menhirs, lies about 200 meters north of the burial place.

8. Londa Site

Londa is a grave site where two methods of burial are customary. Here, the coffins of ordinary people are placed in caves and crevices at the foot of the hill, while the remains of persons of higher rank rest in burial chambers carved from the wall of the limestone cliff. The latter are accompanied by Tau-tau, placed close to the chamber. The higher the status of the deceased, the higher the chamber, which can be situated as far as 50 meters from the ground.

9. Lemo Site

Lemo is also a cliff burial site with galleries of ancestor statues. In contrast to Londa, coffins here are not deposited in caves or crevices at the foot of the hill. To the north lies a compound of four granaries and one Tongkonan.

10. Tumakke Site

The site of Tumakke displays a distinctive traditional house built on a raised terrace. Although its construction is no different to the common Toraja dwelling, the saddle-like roof of the Tumakke house is covered with stone slabs measuring 50-60cm long, 30-40cm wide and 5-10cm thick. On the north-eastern side of the house, at a distance of some 5 meters, stands a small granary.

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