Toraja has a rich and ancient heritage in traditional textiles. Some very fine ikat textile is produced in Toraja. Ikat and weavingikat weaving center at todi villages can generally be found around the north and west of Toraja. Ikat and weaving is important for the Toraja people. In the past, people in Toraja sold their livestock, buffalo, or their agriculture pickings just for getting the ikat textiles. Ikat at that moment represent one of the highest valuable of goods that symbolize the prosperity and the glory.
Torajans learn the way of weaving from their ancestor by generations but not all of them earn skillful to weave the best and high quality of Tradisional woven such as ikat (sekomandi) , tali tobatu , paruki’, tannun kamandang , ect. People in Toraja who can weave are the peoples who live along North and West of Toraja.
In South Celebes (Sulawesi) there are two center areas of ikat weaving textiles: KALUMPANG and RONGKONG (west), both situated in the more isolated areas of Torajaland. The closest to Toraja is Kalumpang, in West Toraja, north of Mamasa, it take 3 to 5 days walking to reach this villages.
The Tana Toraja Regency (Toraja land) in South Sulawesi, is one of Indonesia’s best kept cultural secrets. A place where a persons death is the most important event in one’s life, the unique culture and history of the region is fascinating. From the traditional villages of Ke’te Kesu and Sakonbong; the rice paddies to coffee plantations and the incredible cave burial site of Londa. If you love culture and are looking to get off the beaten path in Indonesia – or just want something completely different to Bali, Tana Toraja Indonesia must be at the top of your list.
Up until the 20th century, the Torajans had little awareness of themselves as a distinct ethnic group. Living in the highlands of South Sulawesi Indonesia, surrounded by mountains, cut off from the outside world and aware of only others like them, they identified themselves as simply members of their village and it was only the arrival of Dutch Missionaries in 1920 and the formal establishment of the Tana Toraja regency in 1957 that sparked a sense of ethnic consciousness and the push for cultural survival.
For at least 600 years, the Toraja highlands were an end destination in the long networks of trade that stretched from India and China across Island Southeast Asia. Indian textiles were very highly sought after all over the archipelago and were used as a currency in the spice trade. Their superior workmanship and bright, fast colors were as much admired here as they were in Europe and the Middle East. Toraja was not itself a spice-growing area, but cloths must have reached here originally through the Buginese kingdom of Luwu’, which rose to prominence in the 14th and 15th centuries and was engaged in long-distance trade. Later, large quantities of textiles passed through Makassar, which became a major port of the spice trade starting in the 16th century. Remarkably, Toraja is the area where the greatest numbers of very old Indian cloths have survived, testament to the enormous care with which they have been preserved as sacred heirlooms over the centuries. Some are now in museum collections, where since the 1990s they have been tested with newly refined radiocarbon dating techniques, revealing that they are of much greater antiquity than previously thought. The oldest examples have been dated to the 14th century, and a few even to the late 13th century.