A House Without Smoke

A House Without Smoke

Toraja, South Sulawesi
23 July 2015

        From the landscape: a sense of scale

From the dead: a sense of scale

- Richard Siken, ‘Detail of the Woods’ 

A typical traditional house in Toraja. The curves are symbolic of a buffalo's horns, and allows one to slide up, or down, from heaven.

The half-smoked cigarettes of mourners are mixed in with the scant remnants of a dead man, now squirreled away in a cave in Ke’te

This woman has been in a Torajan house for three years, while they save up for her funeral ceremony.

Buffalo carvings on coffins are common for men.

Double-exposure of tau-tau (effigies) against the view out from a cave.

Buffalo on parade at Bulo Market. These are reared and sold for slaughter during funeral ceremonies.

A man watches over his herd of pigs at Bulo Market.

Ritual killing at a funeral ceremony. Steam rises from the fatal cut in the buffalo's throat. This is the quickest way to kill.

Bigger buffalo don't go down so easy. Meanwhile, the entire village turns out to see the show. And take a home a piece of the action.

A buffalo, presumed down, stumbles to his feet and provides a moment of consternation for his executor.

Children play in makeshift structures around the killing ground as a leg of buffalo meat is left for their family.

An empty grave, carefully hewn out of rock over long months, awaits its next occupant.

A woman clambers down from where the coffin is placed. The elevation of the coffin determines the social status of the deceased.

A man rescues his chicken as afternoon rain begins to pelt down.

In the absence of a clothesline...

A woman emerges out of the padi after gathering vegetables in her little plot of land.

Tossing natural fertilizer to roadside plants that will be eventually plucked and fried as a tasty side-dish.

A little boy waits for the wind to pick up so he can fly his kite.

A wall of karst rocks overlook serene padi fields.

Buffalo first, is the way the Torajans have always lived. The buffalo are sacred animals, bridging the afterlife through their sacrifice.

Photos by Marc