Tana Toraja
Tana Toraja

Tana Toraja

Tana Toraja Regency (Torajaland, Land of the Toraja or Tator) is a regency (kabupaten) of South Sulawesi, Indonesia, home of Toraja ethnic group people. The local government seat is in Makale, where the center of Toraja culture is in Rantepao. But now, Tana Toraja has been divided to two regencies that consist of Tana Toraja with capital is Makale and Toraja Utara with capital is Rantepao.

Tana Toraja boundary was determined by the Dutch East Indies government in 1909. In 1926, Tana Toraja was under the administration of Bugis state, Luwu. The regentschap (or regency) status was given on October 8, 1946, the last regency given by the Dutch. Since 1984, Tana Toraja has been named as the second tourist destination after Bali by the Ministry of Tourism, Indonesia. Since then, hundreds of thousands of foreign visitors have visited this regency. In addition, numerous Western anthropologists have come to Tana Toraja to study the indigenous culture and people of Toraja.

The word toraja comes from the Bugis Buginese language term to riaja, meaning "people of the uplands". The Dutch colonial government named the people Toraja in 1909. Torajans are renowned for their elaborate funeral rites, burial sites carved into rocky cliffs, massive peaked-roof traditional houses known as tongkonan, and colorful wood carvings. Toraja funeral rites are important social events, usually attended by hundreds of people and lasting for several days

The Tourism at Toraja.

Before the 1970s, Toraja was almost unknown to Western tourism. In 1971, about 50 Europeans visited Tana Toraja. In 1972, at least 400 visitors attended the funeral ritual of Puang of Sangalla, the highest-ranking nobleman in Tana Toraja and the so-called "last pure-blooded Toraja noble." The event was documented by National Geographic and broadcast in several European countries. In 1976, about 12,000 tourists visited the regency and in 1981, Torajan sculpture was exhibited in major North American museums. "The land of the heavenly kings of Tana Toraja", as written in the exhibition brochure, embraced the outside world.

In 1984, the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism declared Tana Toraja Regency the primadonna of South Sulawesi. Tana Toraja was heralded as "the second stop after Bali". Tourism was increasing dramatically: by 1985, a total number of 150,000 foreigners had visited the Regency (in addition to 80,000 domestic tourists), and the annual number of foreign visitors was recorded at 40,000 in 1989. Souvenir stands appeared in Rantepao, the cultural center of Toraja, roads were sealed at the most-visited tourist sites, new hotels and tourist-oriented restaurants were opened, and an airstrip was opened in the Regency in 1981.

Tourism developers have marketed Tana Toraja as an exotic adventure—an area rich in culture and off the beaten track. Western tourists expected to see stone-age villages and pagan funerals. Toraja is for tourists who have gone as far as Bali and are willing to see more of the wild, "untouched" islands. However, they were more likely to see a Torajan wearing a hat and denim, living in a Christian society. Tourists felt that the tongkonan and other Torajan rituals had been preconceived to make profits, and complained that the destination was too commercialized. This has resulted in several clashes between Torajans and tourism developers, whom Torajans see as outsiders.

Tourism has also transformed Toraja society. Originally, there was a ritual which allowed commoners to marry nobles (puang) and thereby gain nobility for their children. However, the image of Torajan society created for the tourists, often by "lower-ranking" guides, has eroded its traditional strict hierarchy. High status is not as esteemed in Tana Toraja as it once was. Many low-ranking men can declare themselves and their children nobles by gaining enough wealth through work outside the region and then marrying a noble woman

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