Sa'dan Toraja people
Door for a tomb
jackfruit wood, paint
56.2 (h) x 51.1 (w) x 9.8 (d) cm
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
The doors of significant Torajan dwellings of the living and the dead, such as entrances to clan granaries and the mouths of tombs, often feature carved images of ancestral figures and potent animal motifs such as buffalo.
The Torajans stage elaborate burial ceremonies for the deceased. One of the most important funeral rites includes the ritual slaughter of buffalo. Many buffalo may be sacrificed for the feast depending on the wealth of the deceased. It is believed that the larger the number of animals killed the greater the spirit’s afterlife will be. Crucial to agricultural success, buffalo are seen as symbols of wealth and abundance. The slaughtered animals are said to join the spirit of the dead human in the afterlife.