Tana Toraja GravesSeptember 2016
Today, most residents of Tana Toraja are Christians, but they still follow their ancestors' traditional burial practices. After an elaborate funeral ceremony, a Torajan's coffin is placed somewhere rocky: in a natural cave, a family crypt chiseled into a cliff or boulder, or a concrete crypt built at the base of a burial cliff. The higher one's status is in life, the higher the coffin goes. Torajans from the highest caste are memorialized with effigies, called tao-taos, placed at their burial site. Very young babies are buried not in crypts but in holes carved into the trunk of a tree. The bark eventually grows over the hole, incorporating the body into the tree and carrying the baby up toward heaven as the tree grows.