| Door for a tomb

Sa'dan Toraja people
Sulawesi, Indonesia

Door for a tomb 19th century
jackfruit wood, paint
56.2 (h) x 51.1 (w) x 9.8 (d) cm
Purchased 2006
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
NGA 2006.724


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.

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