National Geographic : 1972 Jun
Our hosts showed us to one of a row of comfortable bamboo houses built for the occasion beside a rice field near the village of Tandung. A bamboo aqueduct brought fresh water from a spring more than a mile and a half away. Across the paddy in his homestead lay Puang Sa'pang, who had been dead now for more than five months. J. T. Sampetoding, the businessman who had invited us to Tana Toradja, operates copper, tin, and gold mines throughout Sula wesi. One evening he briefed us on the cere monies surrounding a great Toradja funeral. As we sat cross-legged on the mats in our house, he told us: "Everyone in Tana Torad ja has a hereditary rank. The highest are the puangs-nobles, the lowest, kaunans-serv ants. Once there were many puangs, but today their 'white' blood has been diluted through intermarriage, and only a few pure puangs remain." We smiled at Mr. Sampetoding's reference to the color of blood, so similar to our own illogical notion of aristocratic blood running blue. Web of Debt Links Generations "Sa'pang is of the highest rank," he went on, "and because of this at least twelve buffa loes must be sacrificed at his funeral." "Who will contribute them?" we asked. We knew that the Toradja people live in a net work of debts that stretch back for genera tions and fall due at the time of funeral feasts. "In past time, when there was a feast such as this, Sa'pang gave buffaloes. Now, at his funeral, the descendants of those to whom he and his ancestors gave will bring gifts to honor Sa'pang." In all, some thirty temporary two- and three-story bamboo buildings, rising like Elizabethan galleries around Sa'pang's prop erty, had been erected to house funeral guests (pages 792-3). Platforms beneath the 13 gran aries would also serve as sleeping quarters. Quilted sheets, rolled up during the day, would ensure privacy at night. From our window we could now see guests streaming to the feast site. The road into Tandung became clogged. Whole villages arrived in single file, walking solemnly with their contributions. Buffaloes led the processions, some destined for sacrifice, others for fights staged to enter tain the guests. Pigs hung from bamboo poles and chickens clucked in baskets. The villagers also carried bundles of rice and bamboo tubes (Continued on page 809) 804 WINFIELDPARKS(RIGHT)ANDPAMELAMEYER More craftsman than artist, a Toradja paints a stylized buffalo on a carved wooden panel that will decorate a house. He must overcome imagi nation, for his main responsibility is to keep traditional designs alive in their purest form. The omnipresent buffalo also adorns the home of a weaver (above). The village sculptor fitted his creation with real horns, probably taken from a sacrificial beast at a funeral. Glittering headdresses (right) cap the intent faces of funerary dancers.