Tana Toraja Regency is located at northern part of South Sulawesi Province. Since 2008, it has divided into two Regions: Tana Toraja Regency with its capital Makale and Toraja Utara Regency with its capital Rantepao.
The origin of word “Toraja” is believed come from 17th century from the term Bugis Sidenreng’ people used to call the Torajan people: “To Riaja” meaning: “people from the mountain / highlands” (‘To’ = man and ‘Riaja’ = mountain/highlands). Whereas “Tana” has a meaning “country”, so that Tana Toraja is “Torajan people country/land”.
In Dutch colonial period, “Toraja” was formalized by the Dutch East Indies government in 1909 and it is still used officially until now.
However, Torajan people itselves call their land as “Tondok Lepongan Bulan Tana Matari ‘Allo” which means “the round country as round as the moon and the sun”.
“Tondok Lepongan Bulan Tana Matari ‘Allo” has profound meaning and describe clearly the relationship of the communities, where the people unite under the alliance of local territories of native people and were never ruled by a single ruler/king. Each region is headed by a tribal chief.
This alliance based on an old religion named Aluk Todolo (or Old Belief). Aluk Todolo set the government system and social system of Torajan people.
Before the arrival of the Dutch colonists, the Torajan people often fight each other. But under the threat of Dutch colonization, they began to realize the importance of unity. In 1906, the tribal chiefs of Toraja association pledged unity with the motto “Misa’ Kada di Po Tuo Pantan kada di Pomate”, in a simple translation it has a meaning “united we stand, divided we fall”.