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Great holmertz 2008-10-20 1:58

Hello Elaine,
I find this picture a lot less shocking than the pig you posted the other day. This gives an interesting glimpse of an old tradition and it's a well composed picture with beautiful colours.
More than 30 years ago while on Bali I went to a village to watch a cremation of some important man who had died three years earlier. It was to become a very spectacular ceremony but I left in disgust before it started, because it turned out to be a chaotic tourist show, hundreds of tourists disturbing what really was a family event. Has tourism overtaken traditions also among the Toraja?
Best regards,

Old 10-20-2008, 09:53 AM
everlasting everlasting is offline
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Default To holmertz: tourists in toraja

Gert, thanks for your comment, the only comment in fact on this photo.
I know exactly what you mean about tourist invading a family or intimate event. And I did wonder how it would be in Toraja with these spactacular ceromonies taking place. But in fact, as there are not too many tourist in sulawesi at all, is was nowhere near as bad as I expected. In the livestock market which happens only every six days and of course pulls in the tourists from every corner and hotel, there must have been no more than 30 foreigners. And of course if you are there as a tourist at funeral season you want to witness this special ritual. There were many funerals taking place while we were there and the talk in the hotel in the evenigns was about the ceremonies visited how many buffs were slaughtered etc. But with one or two tourist at each ceremony the authenticity of the ritual, I felt was not impaired.
I am sure if sulawesi were 'lucky' enough to experience the floods of tourists that hit Bali each year then the fragility of such wuld be in danger.

Best regards,
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Old 10-20-2008, 11:04 AM
Luko Luko is offline
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Default Re: To holmertz: tourists in toraja

Hi Gert,
just another point to Elaine's reply.

I went to a Toraja funeral as well 6 years ago, I simply couldn't look at the buffalo slaughter, hence I skipped this part. That was happening in august, full tourist season in Rantepao, there were quite a bunch of tourists which could lead to the feeling it was a show.

But speaking afterwards with both my Torajan guide and drivers, you have to understand one thing : funerals must be a feast for the dead, tourists are more than welcomed because they honor by their presence and their offerings the dead person. It's nothing like a family ritual, the ceremony must show the power of the person : the more people attending, the happier family.

One thing also questioned me about the relationship between Toraja and the indonesian gvt., probably also their place within the indonesian society : as a european supposedly christian, you are VERY welcome in Toraja, which is not really the case of indonesian gvt representatives, supposedly muslim. Bear in mind that 200 km north, there is religious unrest around Poso resulting into the burning of churches, sometimes fights between christian and muslim communities, and 200 km south, Makassar provides an impressive array of strict madrassahs and sometimes also some community fights.
Toraja people feel a bit like the peaceful exception in Sulawesi, just like Manado area, where the unrest has never gotten up north.

You will feel the heartbeat of Toraja while soft trekking in the rice fields or the villages around Rantepao. It is definitely a MUST do : within a couple hours you might be welcomed in the villages, your both hands holding bamboos filled with red rice, a traditional present given to the travelers.
What a strange land and attaching people : although parts of the country might be crammed with tourists in summer, their traditions are so strong, that it's one of the tribes I simply do not worry about their future.


PS : You have to read Nigel Barley's "Not a hazardous sport" about Toraja. One of my favorite travel books.
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Old 10-20-2008, 11:36 AM
everlasting everlasting is offline
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Default Re: To holmertz: tourists in toraja

Hi Luko, I agree with what you say and must add that since the Bali bombs and the trouble in Poso, the number of tourists visiting Sulawesi has dwindled. Of course, Toraja is well on the tourist route but i think you will be surprsed on how "tourist" quiet is is since your last visit. There cannot be many places where tourist numbers have declined in recent years -- Iraq?

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