Dressing up the dead

dead lady face

In a place called Toraja located in Indonesia the dead walk the Earth. This area is 793 square miles long and what happens here is nothing short of a zombie movie. The dead are exhumed and walked back literally to their home originating where they died. Families here through various ceremonies will groom and dress their fallen friends and family. They will dig their grave up and dress the dead in new fancy clothes. Dead children are also dressed and damaged coffins are then replaced.  

The ritual performed is known as Ma’nene also known as “The Ceremony of Cleaning Corpses”. From the beliefs of the ancient Torajan tradition, the dead person must return to their village of origin. If this happens in a families lifetime; they will accompany the deceased back home escorting them, making sure they get back to their village. Back in time, these events rarely happened for those venturing far away. People were frightened to go very far fearing they would not be able to return to their village.

dead beloved one

Years ago villages were more difficult to get to, traveling was a real burden for people. It was often very difficult for family members to carry the corpses of their beloved ones. This mobile type service for the dead raises controversy in their culture. Some believe this tradition should be ended and the dead should remain at peace buried in the Earth. A giant stone wall with wooden effigies known as tau-tau are created for high society members.

This area is home to the Toraja ethic group of people. The government here is located in Makale and the cultural centerpiece is the center of Rantepao also located in Indonesia. The living population here is around 220,000 people.

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