National Geographic : 2016 Apr
death in toraja 65 the dead snacks and cigarettes, and take long- buried bodies out for a turn in the sun and put fresh clothing on them. Daniel Seba Sambara presides over a gathering that includes his wife, a daughter and granddaughter, son, son-in-law, and many others congregated around a grand family crypt on a breezy spot overlooking a val- ley. Daniel wears new trousers and looks slightly surprised, as if peering out from behind new wire-rimmed glasses. He died in 2012 after 20 years with diabetes. This is the first time his family has seen him since he was interred. This week, for the ceremony of ma’nene’, he was hauled out along with a dozen or so much longer dead relatives, his companions in the crypt. Relaxed and fit, Pieter, Daniel’s son, followed his father in the construction business in Papua Province, more than a thousand miles away. Pieter’s orange polo shirt is fashionable. His En- glish is excellent. His daughter, Monna, a civil engineer, passes around cell phone pictures of her choir camp in Cincinnati. Pieter and his family are thoroughly modern Torajans. So how does he feel seeing his three-years- dead father lashed to a stucco pillar, with rela- tives posed at his side? Proud. And excited. His father’s body is relatively intact and recogniz- able, unlike those of other relatives lying nearby, Water buffalo in Toraja are raised to be sacrificed. Until then, boys (and sometimes girls) care for them with affection and pride, as they would a fine stallion or an expensive car. At the funeral the animals are killed by a machete chop to the jugular. The more buffalo sacrificed, the greater the prestige.