Posted on 05/12/2023
Toraja House and Coffee
A typical Toraja traditional house is usually called Tongkonan.
This is one of the unique and famous aspects of Toraja, apart from death
ceremonies and Toraja Coffee.
Tongkonan comes from the Toraja language "tongkon"
which means "to sit" and is given the suffix’ -an’. So, Tongkonan
means a place where members of one family can sit together. Ceremonies related
to kinship, community, and belief systems are carried out at Tongkonan.
Tongkonan is not privately owned. If a husband and wife together with their
children and grandchildren establish a Tongkonan, then the descendants of that
family will become the heirs to the Tongkonan.
In Tongkonan, the rules in society are formulated in the
form of aluk (rules) and pemali (prohibitions), and guidance
regarding mutual cooperation is implemented. The function of Tongkonan cannot
be separated from the philosophy that originates from the original beliefs held
by the Toraja people, Aluk Todolo. Every form of construction, room, carving, and structure in Tongkonan has its own meaning.
Referring to Aluk Todolo, the structure of Tongkonan
is divided into three main parts.
1. Lower part (Sulluk Banua)
It is under the house surrounded by pillars that support the
body of the house which is called Kale Banua. Previously, under the
house functioned as a buffalo pen. But over time, public awareness of
cleanliness has increased so that Sulluk Banua is no longer used as a
2. House body (Kale Banua)
The body of the house which is supported by these pillars is
the center of daily activities, a place where ceremonies are held, and a place
for family deliberations. Kale Banua is traditionally divided into 3
parts: Tangdo' (front room) which is usually used for rest and
deliberation. The sali (the middle room which is positioned lower than
the tangdo') is used for the family bed, kitchen, and dining area. Sumbung
(a room with a higher position than tangdo' and sali) which is
the sleeping place for the main family.
3. Upper part (Rattiang Banua)
Rattiang Banua includes an attic and a roof. Attics
are traditionally used to store cloth and heirlooms. The roof of Tongkonan was
once made from nipa leaves and had a unique curved shape with two sides
protruding like the keel of a boat. The meaning behind the shape of this boat
is as a reminder that the ancestors of the Toraja people came from the north by
boat. Because of this, Tongkonan was previously built facing north.
There are several types of Tongkonan based on their function
1. Tongkonan Layuk
It is the center of government and traditional power. This Tongkonan
is usually used to regulate all government affairs, a place where rules and
prohibitions are made, and a place for deliberation.
2. Tongkonan Pekamberan
It is the place where traditional government is implemented
which implements the rules made in Tongkonan Layuk. Pekamberan tongkonan is
also used to prosecute people who violate pemali or prohibitions.
3. Tongkonan Batu A'riri
These Tongkonan residents do not have positions in the
traditional government. This Tongkonan is a place for training and coaching
families who will build Tongkonan for the first time. The size of this
Tongkonan is not too big and is slightly different from Tongkonan in general.
The body and walls of Tongkonan are generally filled with
carvings called passura'. This Passura' consists of several types and
each has its own meaning and has rules for its placement. There are four basic
forms of passura'.
1. Passura' pa' manuk Londang
The rooster-shaped carvings on the front and back of the
house on the triangular top board cover the Rattiang Banua. This carving
is usually made on top of the pa' Barre Allo carving. This carving
symbolizes wise and wise leadership and can be trusted because his words are
always true based on virtue, understanding, and intuition.
2. Passura' pa' Barre Allo
Carving in the shape of a sun circle. It is located in Rattiang
Banua on the front and back of the house under the pa' manuk Londang carvings.
This carving symbolizes the belief that everything in the world comes from Puang
Matua (God Almighty). Tongkonan residents with these carvings usually have
a high social status in society.
3. Passura pa' Tedong
This buffalo head-shaped carving is located on the support
of the body of the house. The meaning of this carving is high social status
because buffalo have high social value and are the standard measure of wealth
4. Passura pa' sussu'
This carving is in the form of parallel vertical and
horizontal lines without variation or color. This simple carving symbolizes
nobility and the desire to comply with applicable laws and regulations. Only
certain people use this carving.
Apart from these carvings, the front wall of Tongkonan is
also decorated with wooden buffalo head ornaments using real buffalo horns.
This decoration is called kabongo'. On it is a rooster's head ornament
called katik. In the past, not all Tongkonan could have these ornaments
installed except Tongkonan people who had a role in traditional leadership.
Apart from that, on the main pillar of the house, there are also buffalo horns
hanging in a row. This shows the high level of a person. The more buffalo
horns, it means that the more buffalo are slaughtered for traditional
ceremonies, the higher the person's social status in society.
This is an explanation of Toraja traditional houses. The
rich culture and customs that are full of meaning in Toraja are things that
need to be maintained as part of cultural diversity in Indonesia. Like Toraja
traditional houses, other aspects such as Toraja Coffee must also be preserved.
Because not only does Toraja Coffee play an important role in the identity of
Tana Toraja, Toraja Coffee has also brought Toraja's name to the world on the
international stage. To enjoy quality Toraja coffee, you can enjoy coffee from
the Sulotco coffee plantation in the Rantekarua Mountains, Bolokan.