Sulawesi Traditional Houses
Traditional House called Tongkonan The word 'Tongkonan' is derived from the Toraja word tongkon (‘to sit’). Tongkonan are the center of Torajan social life. The rituals associated with the tongkonan are important expressions of Torajan spiritual life, and therefore all family members are impelled to participate, because symbolically the tongkonan represents links to their ancestors and to living and future kin.
The ethnic groups in the mountain regions of southwest and central Sulawesi toraja wooden house(Celebes) are known by the name of Toraja, which has come to mean “those who live upstream” or “those who live in the mountains”.
Their name is in fact derived from Raja, which in Sanskrit means “king”. The society is hierarchically structured: the noblemen are called rengnge, the ordinary people to makaka, and the slaves to kaunan; birth determines which rank a person will occupy.
The distinctive features of the traditional houses (tongkonan) of the Toraja are the “buffalo horns”, the roof design and the rich decoration on the walls. The buffalo is a symbol of status, courage, strength and fighting spirit.
Designed as a representation of the universe, the tongkonan is constructed in three parts: the upper world (the roof), the world of humans (the middle of the building), and the underworld (the space under the floor). The highly distinctive roofs constructed by the Toraja have given rise to various ingenious interpretations.
Certainly the roof is something of deep significance for the Toraja, and even today they build “modern” (in other words houses built with cement) houses with such roofs.
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