A natural connection between people and coffee.

The Torajanese are an ethnic group indigenous to the mountainous region of South Sulawesi, Indonesia.

The Tana Toraja heritage has been handed over from generation to generation for at least 700 years, possibly even into pre-history. Today, the population stands at approximately 650,000 - of which 450,000 people still live in the Tana Toraja (the Land of Toraja) Regency.

The Tana Toraja traditional settlement is a part of a living tradition.

It is a manifestation of Alùk Todolo, the Toraja belief system which governs the life of the society. It is related to various ceremonies and customs within the Torajan cultural system. The heritage provides a strong identity as well as social values not only for the Torajan people but also for Austronesian ethnic groups which make up the majority of the Indonesian population.


Traditionally, a Torajan settlement consists of a compound of houses (tongkonan) and granaries (alangs), burials (liang), ceremonial grounds with menhirs (rante), rice-fields, bamboo forests, and grazing ground or pasture for buffalo and pigs.

Torajanese Village

Part – I


Features of the landscape such as mountains and rivers have a place in myths and oral histories of the Torajanese, especially the genealogies and accounts attached to their particular noble origin-houses.

Illustration of an Indonesian Tongkonan

Part – II


Nothing is more iconic to Torajan culture than the Tongkonan structure. Some say traditional Toraja houses represent buffalo heads and horns, other suggest they represent the ships the Toraja use to come to Sulawesi. Others still say they are “space arcs” from another planet.

Part – III

Daily Life

The Toraja people enjoy great longevity, surely something to do with the cool climate and active lifestyle from infancy to old age. They spend their lives growing uniquely low-acid coffee, excellent fragrant rice, raising magnificent buffalo, especially the highly valued pink albino strains. 

Illustration of an Indonesian Water Buffalo

Part – IV


Huge. Strong. Stout. Torajan buffalos are bigger than most and mean a lot more to the people than just an animal.it is a vessel of the spirit of life , a former symbol of money and barter, a status symbol and a critical part of the Rambu Solo death ritual.

Part – V

Mummified Dead

You might call them zombies. But you’d be wrong. Because Torajan people do not merely bury or cremate their dead, they actually have them live on for a great length of time in the house, showering them with gifts and the attention of relatives.


Part – VI


While the Tongkonan plays a major part in defining their rural skylines and providing shelter to their people, it is the ornamental engravings on its surface—the passura—that give a voice to their encoded cultural messages, and comprehensively express the Torajan style. 

While the figurative patterns hold equally important messages to the abstract ones, their symbolisation process is more straightforward, as they portray actual subjects. The subjects, which include roosters, dogs, pigs and buffalo, mostly portrayed from the side, can be immediately recognized, and linked to associated values and meaning in context.