Sulawesi:: Gorontalo

Bone River near the National Park

Bone River near the National Park

Gorontalo is the newest province on Sulawesi. Recently separated from North Sulawesi, it covers a mere 12,000 sq. km. with a population of 840,000. The area is composed of extensive coastlines, rugged mountains, and a large central valley almost entirely surrounded by steep slopes. At its center is beautiful Lake Limboto. Because of its narrowness, those flying into the new Jalaluddin Airport can view both northern and southern coastlines simultaneously.

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Sulawesi:: Sangihe and Talaud islands

A unique bamboo brass band from Sangihe

A unique bamboo brass band from Sangihe

Sangihe and Talaud are a chain of islands stretching north from Sulawesi in the direction of the Philippines. There are many active volcanoes here and a very fertile soil. Much of the products are sent by boat to Manado, like coconuts, rattan, nutmeg and ebony. The total land area is 813 sq. km, population about 240.000. The largest islands are Sangihe, Siau, Biaro and Tahulandang.

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Sulawesi:: Manado

Indonesia, Sulawesi, Manado. Manado harbour with a lighthouse on the pier. Manado Tua, an extinct volcano, in the background. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Indonesia, Sulawesi, Manado. Manado harbour with a lighthouse on the pier. Manado Tua, an extinct volcano, in the background. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Manado is the provincial capital of north Sulawesi, and has a population of about 250.000. The city is located in the Minahasa region at the northern tip of a long and narrow peninsula, and is a trade center for northern Sulawesi. It’s harbor is exposed to the open sea, and Manado’s commercial port is therefore located in Bitung about one hour drive away.

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Sulawesi:: Bitung and Lembeh

North Sulawesi, Lembeh island. Monumen Trikora is constructed in the 1970's to celebrate the success of the Indonesian military campaign in Irian Jaya. The old DC3 aircraft that can be seen on the photo was used in the military campaign. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

North Sulawesi, Lembeh island. Monumen Trikora is constructed in the 1970's to celebrate the success of the Indonesian military's campaign in Irian Jaya. The old DC3 aircraft that can be seen on the photo was used in the military campaign. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

The port town of Bitung is about one hour drive (55 km) east of Manado. The Lembeh island east of the city protects the area from the sea, and Bitung is today an important commercial harbor for export from Manado and all of east Indonesia. It ia also a point of arrival for travellers who come by boat to northern Sulawesi. Population about 120.000, mostly Christian Protestants.

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Sulawesi:: Toraja identity

Bali, Gianyar, Batubulan. Exhibition of a traditional Toraja house from Sulawesi at the Bali Bird Park. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Bali, Gianyar, Batubulan. Exhibition of a traditional Toraja house from Sulawesi at the Bali Bird Park. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

One minority group that has been successful in gaining national and international attention is the Toraja of central Sulawesi. This group’s prominence, beginning in the 1980s, was due largely to the tourist industry, which was attracted to the region because of its picturesque villages and its spectacular mortuary rites involving the slaughter of water buffalo.

Inhabiting the wet, rugged mountains of the interior of Sulawesi, the Toraja grow rice for subsistence and coffee for cash. Traditionally, they live in fortified hilltop villages with from two to forty picturesque houses with large sweeping roofs that resemble buffalo horns. Up until the late 1980s, these villages were politically and economically self-sufficient, partly as protection against the depredations of the slave trade and partly as a result of intervillage feuding associated with headhunting.

The Toraja have strong emotional, economic, and political ties to a number of different kinds of corporate groups. The most basic tie is the rarabuku, which might be translated as family. Toraja view these groups as relations of “blood and bone,” that is, relations between parents and children–the nuclear family. Since Toraja reckon kinship bilaterally, through both the mother and father, the possibilities for extending the concept of rarabuku in several different directions are many. Another important kind of group with which Toraja have close affiliations is the tongkonan (ancestral house), which contrasts with banua (ordinary house). Tongkonan as social units consist of a group of people who reckon descent from an original ancestor. The physical structures of tongkonan are periodically renewed by replacing their distinctively shaped roofs. This ritual is attended by members of the social group and accompanied by trance-like dances in which the spirits are asked to visit. A third important kind of affiliation is the saroan, or village work group. These groups were probably originally agricultural work groups based in a particular hamlet. Beginning as labor and credit exchanges, saroan have since evolved into units of cooperation in ritual activities as well. When sacrifices and funerals take place, these groups exchange meat and other foods.

The flexibility of these affiliations is partly responsible for the intensity of the mortuary performances. Because there is some ambiguity about one’s affiliation (that is, one’s claims to descent are not only based on blood relationships but also on social recognition of the relationship through public acts), Toraja people may attempt to prove the importance of a relationship through elaborate contributions to a funeral, which provides an opportunity to prove not only a person’s devotion to a deceased parent, but also a person’s claim to a share of that parent’s land. The amount of land an individual inherits from the deceased might depend on the number of buffalo sacrificed at a parent’s funeral. Sometimes people even pawn land to get buffalo to kill at a funeral so that they can claim the land of the deceased. Thus, feasting at funerals is highly competitive.

Bali, Gianyar, Batubulan. Exhibition of a traditional Toraja house from Sulawesi at the Bali Bird Park. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Bali, Gianyar, Batubulan. Exhibition of a traditional Toraja house from Sulawesi. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

The Toraja have two main kinds of rituals. Those of the east– known as rites of the rising sun and the rising smoke–are concerned with planting fertility and abundance. Following the rice harvest are rituals of the west centering on the setting sun, consisting primarily of funerals. Both involve the sacrifice of water buffalo, pigs, and chickens as offerings to the ancestors, and a complex distribution of the meat among the living. Through the distribution of meat, an elaborate network of debts and obligations is established and passed to succeeding generations.

With the oil boom in the 1960s and 1970s, there were massive outmigrations among upland Sulawesi young men looking for jobs in northeastern Kalimantan. During this period, many of these youths became Christians. But when they returned to their villages as wealthy men, they often wanted to hold large status displays in the form of funerals, causing what anthropologist Toby Alice Volkman calls “ritual inflation.” These displays provoked intense debates about the authenticity of what some regarded as rituals of the nouveau riche. During this same period, however, Indonesia promoted a policy that encouraged the development of the non-oil-related sectors of the economy. Part of this policy involved the development of the tourist trade, and following coverage by the American media, waves of foreigners came to see the carnage of buffalo slaughter. These numbers swelled in the early 1990s. Because of the successful efforts of highly placed Toraja officials in the central government, their feasting practices were granted official status as a branch of Balinese Hinduism.

Library of Congress, Country Studies
Data as of November 1992

 

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Sulawesi:: Tana Toraja Traditional Settlement

Traditional Toraja House in Kete Kesu Village, Tana Toraja – South Sulawesi

Traditional Toraja House in Kete Kesu Village, Tana Toraja – South Sulawesi

Tana Toraja is located in the Northern part of the South Sulawesi Province. Situated between Latimojong Mountain range and Mount Reute Kambola. The arible Toraja consists of three groups. The Eastern around lake Poso, Western Toraja living around the Palu river and Kalawi in Centre Sulawesi. The Specific architecture of Torajan house has its own architecture form. Torajan house are shaped like a bout and the two ends are shaped like the bow.

Torajan house is a compound buildings consist of traditional houses (Tongkonan) and rice storage buildings (Lumbung). The building are sculpted with ornaments of various shapes. The ornament is painted with traditional colour dominated with the black and red colour. All of them create the aesthetic value of the building of Torajan houses.

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Sulawesi:: Makassar

South Sulawesi, Makassar. Pantai Losari with it's many foodstalls. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

South Sulawesi, Makassar. Pantai Losari with it's many foodstalls. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Makassar has a population of about 950.000 and is the provincial capital of south Sulawesi. From 1971 to 1999, the city was named Ujung Pandang, and the two names are often used interchangeably. It is  the largest city on Sulawesi, and has for centuries been the commercial center of trade for Sulawesi and the eastern Indonesian islands. Major goods exported from here are textiles, paper, processed food, building materials and a variety of agricultural products.

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Sulawesi:: Facts

Indonesia, Sulawesi, Bunaken. Children fishing on the reef with Manado Tua in the background. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Indonesia, Sulawesi, Bunaken. Children fishing on the reef with Manado Tua in the background. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Sulawesi is located east of Borneo, west of Maluku and has a common border with the Philippines to the north. The odd shape of the island naturally divides it into four provinces; South, Southeast, Central and North Sulawesi. The coastline is totally 5.630 km and the area about 189.070 sq. km. Highest mountain is Rantekombola, stretching to an altitude of 3.455 m above sea level.

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