Collection Description

Culture Name

Southern Toraja

Culture Description

The Southern Toraja live in southern Celebes (Sulawesi), Indonesia. In this tropical climate, the Southern Toraja depend largely on rice grown in terraced highland paddies. These people speak the Sa'dan Toraja dialect of Toraja, an Austronesian language. The Toraja only began to accept the name "Toraja" for themselves in the 20th century. Christian missionaries are believed to have enhanced a sense of Toraja identity. Most Southern Toraja are now Christian.


Select the Culture Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.


Asia --Southeast Asia



OWC Code


Number of Documents


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Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in this eHRAF collection and are referenced by author, date of publication, and eHRAF document number.

The Southern Toraja file consists of six English language documents. The most comprehensive of these is the two volume work by Nooy-Palm (1979, 1986, no. 7) dealing with the ethnography of the Southern Toraja of the Tana Toraja region. This work offers a wide range of ethnographic topics including data on geography, social and territorial organization, religion and religious organization, and material culture. The monograph by Volkman (1985, no. 6) which focuses on the village of To' Dama' located in the Mount Sesean area, revolves around the culture history of the community with particular emphasis on the family of Mama' Agus, one of the author's primary informants. This work provides some additional information on the analysis of Southern Toraja society and its rituals. The four Hollan articles (1988, 1992, n.d., 1988, nos. 8-11) in this file deal with religious change in the society, the expression and control of anger and emotions, and cultural beliefs about dreams.

For more detailed information on the content of the individual works in this file, see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.

This culture summary is from the article "Toraja" by Kathleen M. Adams in the Encyclopedia of World Cultures, Vol.5. 1993. Paul Hockings, ed. Boston, Mass.: G. K. Hall & Co. The synopsis and indexing notes were prepared by John Beierle, September 1996. The name "Sa'dan" Toraja has been changed to Southern Toraja in the text.

Overview by

John Beierle

ALUK -- prescriptions -- categories 577, 183

ALUK NENE -- the way of the ancestors; term used by the adherents of the traditional beliefs and practices to describe themselves -- categories 101, 795

emotion work -- the effort to shape and manipulate inner feelings -- category 152

MA'MARO -- communal feast -- category 527

MANGIMBO -- prayer sessions -- category 782

MASSURU -- ceremony for the correction of mistakes -- categories 796, 783

PEMALI -- prohibitions -- category 577

TADU -- shamans, priests -- categories 756, 793 depending on context

TAUAN -- dreams, nightmares -- category 154

TINDO -- dreams, nocturnal cogitation -- category 154

wrongdoing, wrongdoer -- category 577

Indexing Notes by

John Beierle

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