Lemo Effigies and The Royal Graves of Suaya, Sulawesi
It was always a pleasure to return to the Toraja Heritage Hotel, usually by late afternoon, relax, digest what unusual things we’d seen each day and eat dinner. Three meals a day were included and a few days during the trip, we skipped dinners after eating lunch around 2 or 3:00 pm. Just not hungry.
Londa with its hanging graves was exciting but there was still Lemo, the Royal Graves of Suaya (the oldest effigies) and “The Baby Tree” to see. Stick with me! Each sight was unique and only can be experienced in the Tana Toraja area of South Sulawesi but these action-packed days were also filled with other interesting encounters, one, of the “third kind” when we came across a brilliantly colored Millipede…looked at some old wooden spoons in a local shop….View image…darn…why didn’t I buy one!
…Watched the local version of recycling. Kids bring cartons of empty bottles to sell a local peddler on his motorbike…
Lemo had smaller graves than Londa and many of the effigies weren’t real. The Torajans have a big problem with people stealing the ancient effigies to sell. The effigies, called “tau taus” are also a big reproduction seller in the souvenir shops. Once it dawned on me that they are basically funeral symbols, I didn’t want to buy one. The video below will give you detailed information about Lemo and its spectular Graves as well as the Royal Graves in Suaya with the oldest effigies in Toraja Land.
The individual coffins in shapes of animals were unique. A boat for grandparents, parents. Buffalo for a man, and my absolute favorite is the one for unmarried women, a pig. Moi takes that as a compliment don’t you, Miss Piggy?
“Royal” means exactly that. You must be related to the royal family to be buried here, and men were busy at work cutting a new grave into the stone cliffs with bamboo scaffolding, iron chisels, and a makeshift smithy to sharpen the chisels. It takes six months if five people work on it before this 2-1/2 square meter grave is finished. The first person to die is always on the bottom with the others stacked on top of him/her.
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