funeral complex

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The Toraja people and the most complex funeral rituals in the world


The Toraja people do practice something akin to the rising of the dead.  It seems that the people believe that death is a long process, sometimes taking years as the deceased gradually works their way toward Puya (the afterlife).   Very elaborate measures must be taken during the funeral to ensure that the loved one makes it safely to that destination.

Because the funeral arrangements are so extensive, they are also very expensive.  For this reason, a body is sometimes placed in a temporary coffin.  During this time, the family can accumulate the necessary funds to pay for a proper funeral, which includes a cave or hanging casket, a multi-water buffalo slaughter, chanting, singing, music, stone and wooden effigies to protect the soul during travel, and so on.

Once the funds are raised, so is the dead.  It seems that the Toraja genuinely believe that the dead are able to walk themselves to their new burial site.  More likely, and what we are seeing depicted in the above picture, is that the somewhat mummified corpse is removed from its temporary coffin and transported upright to the permanent site.  As “corpse walking” is part of the tradition, the body is held in the standing position to simulate ambulation.

They say the corpse is agreed using Black Magic. They do this because the cemeteries are in mountain regions, so no one wants to lead the deceased to the place they must walk alone.

The body follows, guided by an expert in Black Magic, which takes them to the site.