Toraja Wood carvings

Monday, July 16, 2018
by Marketing TODI
Toraja Wood carvings

To express social and religious concepts, Torajans carve wood, calling it Pa'ssura (or "the writing"). Wood carvings are therefore Toraja's cultural manifestation.

Each carving receives a special name, and common motifs are animals and plants that symbolise some virtue. For example, water plants and animals, such as crabs, tadpoles and water weeds, are commonly found to symbolise fertility. In some areas noble elders claim these symbols refer to strength of noble family, but not everyone agrees. The overall meaning of groups of carved motifs on houses remains debated and tourism has further complicated these debates because some feel a uniform explanation must be presented to tourists. The image to the left shows an example of Torajan wood carving, consisting of 15 square panels. The center bottom panel represents buffalo or wealth, a wish for many buffaloes for the family. The center panel represents a knot and a box, a hope that all of the family's offspring will be happy and live in harmony, like goods kept safe in a box. The top left and top right squares represent an aquatic animal, indicating the need for fast and hard work, just like moving on the surface of water. It also represents the need for a certain skill to produce good results.

Regularity and order are common features in Toraja wood carving (see table below), as well as abstracts and geometrical designs. Nature is frequently used as the basis of Toraja's ornaments, because nature is full of abstractions and geometries with regularities and ordering. Toraja's ornaments have been studied in ethnomathematics to reveal their mathematical structure, but Torajans base this art only on approximations. To create an ornament, bamboo sticks are used as a geometrical tool.



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