Toraja Traditional House

toraja houseThe Tana Toraja is located in the hinterland of South Sulawesi province, 340 km to the north of Makassar, with Makale as the capital. Tana Toraja area generally consists of chalk-cliff and natural stone, interspersed with fields and forests, featured with vast expanses of paddies at its valley.

The Tana Toraja Traditional Settlement is a living tradition. It is a heritage that has been handed over from generation to generation for at least 700 years or even longer back to prehistoric time. Indeed, as a living culture, changes occurred along the time. Torajans, who are used to live in an isolated hill, had moved to low land. Burial customs had also changed especially since the seventeenth century when the Buginese from the coastal area to south invaded Tana Toraja. Prior to that time, human remains and precious burial gifts were stored in elaborately carved wooden coffins. During the invasion, lots of the precious gifts and beautifully decorated coffins were destroyed. Since then, Torajans began to make less decorated coffins and placed them high on the cliff-face vaults, reserving more intricate carving for the tomb doors and portrait statues of the deceased, tau-tau. More recently, bamboo forest were replaced with cash crops.

The background of Toraja traditional house architecture is about life philosophy which is the basic of its cultural development. In construction, there are things that bind, which are:
1. Aspects of architecture and construction
2. Aspects of the role and functions of the traditional house

Traditional house called Tongkonan should be facing north, where the doors are located at the front of the house, with the belief that the earth and the heaven are  in unity and the earth is divided into 4 parts, namely:
1. The northern part is called Ulunna rainbow, the most noble place.
2. Eastern part, is called Matallo, where the sun rises, the place of the origin of happiness and life.
3. Western part is called Matampu, where the sun sets, the opposite of happiness or life, which is hardship or death.
4. The southern part is called Pollo’na langi, as opposed to the noble, the place to  release everything that is not good.

Based on the life philosophy taken from the teachings of Todolo Aluk, buildings of traditional house have meanings in all life processes in Toraja society, among others:
1. The location of houses stretching north-south, with the door located to the north.
2. Distribution of the room that has a specific role and function.
3. Window placement that has meaning and function of each.
4. Placement of wood blocks with a certain direction where the root is in the west or east, and the end is in the south or north.

Toraja traditional house construction is done in mutual cooperation, in accordance with the ability of each family. The traditional house consists of 4 types, namely:
1. Tongkonan Layuk, traditional house to make and disseminate regulatory rules.
2. Tongkonan Pakamberan or Pakaindoran, traditional house to implemente rules. Usually in one area there are several tongkonans, all of which are responsible for Tongkonan Layuk.
3. Tongkonan Batu A’riri, traditional house that has no customary role and functions, just as the central place of kinship.
4. Barung-barung, is a private home. After several descents (inherited), then it is called the Tongkonan Batu A’riri.

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