Boats on dry land

Why do traditional houses and rice barns in the Tana Toraja region in Sulawesi, Indonesia, have boat-shaped roofs? We are in a landlocked region after all. A legend explains it all: the Toraja came to Sulawesi by boat from the mountains of what is today Vietnam thousands of years ago. They followed a river on foot, bringing their boats with them, to the region where they decided to settle and which is today Tana Toraja. It is said that they hung their boats between trees for shelter. Thus the boat shape reminds them of their roots.

The houses, known as tongkonan, are beautifully decorated and adorned with buffalo horns from ceremonies.

Buffalo jaws, also from sacrificed animals, are hung in rows on the long side of houses.

It is a status symbol to rebuild your house or rice barn: houses that are in no need at all of repair may still be torn down and rebuilt. Here you can see the how bamboo is used for the construction of the roof and how much bamboo it takes.

One of the most peaceful moments during my stay in Indonesia was sitting on the “porch” under a boat shaped roof: the warmth of the wood, the smooth surface, the green surroundings, the stillness (in spite of some barking dogs). I warmly recommend it!

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