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Living with the Dead: Corpses Dressed Up in Indonesian Tradition (Video)

Living with the Dead: Corpses Dressed Up in Indonesian Tradition (Video)


The Torajan people, living in Sulawesi, Indonesia, have a unique funeral tradition. According to their beliefs, a person isn't truly dead until water buffalo have been sacrificed at their funeral, which serves as a vehicle to the afterlife. Until that time, the bodies may be kept at the family's home for weeks, months, or years, and are cared for as if they were alive. Additionally, the Torajan people practice a ma'nene' ceremony, also known as the "second funeral," every few years. During this event, the families bring out their ancestors, change their clothes, and clean their bodies and crypts to continue their relationship with the dead.

These traditions offer an intriguing perspective into a culture that views death as a natural part of life and the afterlife as a continuation of the present. Despite their seemingly bizarre practices, the Torajan people value tradition, family, and respect for the dead. Their funeral customs illustrate the diversity and complexity of human beliefs and provide a fascinating insight into a different way of living and dying.

Top image: Funerary rites of Tana Toraja. Source: RaiyaniM / CC by SA 4.0.

By Robbie Mitchell

Robbie Mitchell's picture


I’m a graduate of History and Literature from The University of Manchester in England and a total history geek. Since a young age, I’ve been obsessed with history. The weirder the better. I spend my days working as a freelance... Read More

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