Alongside their rich culture and traditions, Toraja also treasures abundant myths about the origin of its name
In the past, Toraja isolation restrained the development of its civilization and halted their communication and transportation attempts. It grew at a slower rate compared to the people of Bugis or Makassar living in the lowland. Even though all flat lands on their territory are used as rice fields, the productions are barely enough to feed everyone, making the Torajans live in a small and concentrated community with high self-sufficiency.
Buginese called the sacred highlands ‘To Riaja’ or a place where northern people lived (‘To’ means people, while ‘Riaja’ means north). People of Luwu Kingdom had their own way of naming, referring it to ‘To Rajang’ or a place where the southerners lived. On the edge of the southern peninsula, people heard stories about a royal descendant known as Puang Lakipadada who came to Gowa Kingdom in 13th century to find eternal life. Gowanese called him ‘Tau Raya’ or the man from the east, thus the place was also known as ‘Tana Tau Raya’ (Tana means land, Tau means man, and Raya means east). Coming from various origins, the legends presumably lead to the name ‘Toraja’ as we know now.
In present day, Toraja people maintain their peaceful communal life. They have castes defining the social standards through their ancestral heraldry. When problems arise, they huddle up together and find the solution as an extensive family. Torajans love having guests, including tourists, probably because in the past guests are rare and visitors must have endured a tiring journey to reach the village. The common greeting when one walk past another man’s house or visiting is “ Manasumoraka ” roughly translated as “ have you cooked? ” implying that there are no boundaries to be of concern between guests and the host. Simply stated, Torajans are friendly, humble, and welcoming to adventurers and explorers alike. So don’t be afraid to greet them in your journey!