Derawan islands consist of 31 islands including Pulau Derawan, Pulau Kakaban, Pulau Sangalaki, Pulau Maratua, Pulau Panjang dan Pulau Samama. It lies on Sulawesi sea at Berau Regency, East Kalimantan Province. Two inhabitant islands are Pulau Derawan and Pulau Maratua. The islands is home for dolphins, green sea turtles, hawksbill sea turtles, manta rays, whale shark, whitetip shark and hammerhead shark and many pelagic fish.
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20 km north of Rantepao and approx 1.5 hour drive away, Batutumonga is located at the slope of Sesean Mountain, the highest mountain at Tana Toraja. It offers Tana Toraja landscapes beautiful view, including lush and green terrace rice fields. It is also the best spot to enjoy the sunrise.
One of the best place to enjoy Batutumonga view is Mentirotiku Homestay & Restaurant. Sipping Torajan coffee while enjoying the landscape from this place is something you should try.
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”.
There are two important rituals in Torajan’s lives: Rambu Solok (the death ceremony) and Rambu Tuka (the wedding ceremony, rice harvest celebration and other celebration). Rambu Solok is a parade towards the burial. It has of two parts: the burial and stage show. During the burial they wrap death, decorate the coffin and carry the coffin from the Tongkonan to the Alang, and to the burial chambers.
The stage show consists of reception, music performances, dance shows, buffalo marches, buffalo fights and slaughter of the buffalos and boars. It could mount to a tens or even hundreds of buffalos, depending on the social status of the family doing the ceremony. This burial ceremoney is very important to the Torajan people, as family members from far away places go back home to be together with their family.
In Toraja, the cheers and delight of the burial ceremony is more than the wedding ceremony. The Semi-permanent Tongkonan houses are setup to be used as a reception place for the guests. The burial ceremony could be very costly, and take about 7 days more or less (depending on the situation of the host family). The number of the animals offered to the deity, the type of buffalo, the quality of the semi-permanent reception-houses are the major contributors of cost of a burial ceremony.
Notes for the tourists: the Torajan people do the ceremonies first and foremost is to fulfill their cultural obligations, not as a tourist attraction. So please do not presume that when during your visit to Tana Toraja there will be a ceremony to welcome you. And please calm yourselves if during your visit there is no ceremony at all.
Opposite each Tongkonan house is the family rice barn called “Alang”. An Alang is built on six (or eight) large wooden piles from Banga tree. The top part of an Alang is used to store rice, whereas the bottom part is an open area (no walls) where the Torajan used to receive their guests and have dinner with them. Usually there is one Alang dedicated for the tribe leader, and the other Alangs belong to the Tongkonan owners and the people in the area. The tribe leader Alang is easily distinguished as it decorated with small bamboo chains tied onto the Alang.
A Tongkonan is a boat-shaped traditional house in Toraja where the nobles and tribe leaders live. A Tongkonan does not only function as a place to live, but it also reflects the status of the owner in the society. Only the nobles have the right to build a Tongkonan and to live in one. Commoners live in a normal house called banua.
In Toraja society, the nobles are served by the commoners who live near them. The commoners honour the nobles as their masters. The nobles have obligations to safeguard the commoners. The nobles are not to eat food if the commoners don’t have food to eat. In this hierarchy the nobles respect to the commoners.
The Torajan society is divided into four different classes (called Kasta). The highest class is the noble kasta, followed by the middle kasta, and then the commoners. The lowest class is called the slaves.
A Tongkonan is built with the help from everybody. It is built facing north, as they believe that north and east are directions for good life. Whereas south and west are directions for the deaths and the bad.
Tongkonan have a distinguishing boat-shaped roof. Tongkonan’s roof is different to the Minangkabau houses which have buffalo-horn shape roofs. This boat-shaped roof was influenced by Torajan long seafarer history – their ancestors were sailors from China.