Buffalo Market @ Pasar Bolu (Tana Toraja)
It is interesting to visit theme market. For example, bird market in Yogya, camel market in Rajasthan, fish market in Tokyo, and just now we were at the buffalo market in Pasar Bolu, 3KM from Rantepao.
We arrived at 8am before more buffalos coming to town. By 9am, the lanes were jammed pack with buffalo.
Buffalo could cost from IRD 20 million to 250 million (record?). The ‘precious’ one are those albino buffalo with three colours, gigantic with impressive horns.
The whole place is like a car exhibition showroom.
First, car wash followed by polishing and waxing. The keeper actually used black polish to make the buffalo skin shine (non-metalic).
After that, hanging for air dry process.
Add fuel to power up the engine.
Some buyers are buying the young calves to raise to adulthood, and to sell at a higher price in the future. The mature buffalo is about 5 years old.
These buffaloes are for the funeral ceremony for sacrifice. Like the farm cows for milk and meat, they don’t have to work in the field. The objective is to gain as much weight and no injury.
This buffalo with downward horns may not fetch a high price. The horns were displayed at the Tongkonan community house as a symbol of status.
For a normal size funeral ceremony, about 5 to 10 buffalos (plug pigs) will be sacrificed. If we count average USD4,000 per buffalo, that is already USD40,000. For larger ceremony, 100 buffaloes are slaughtered. I read an article that there were even records of 200 buffaloes sacrificed in one funeral.
You can see the grin on the seller’s face.
These buffaloes do not have to work throughout their lives, just eat and sleep. There is always a trade-off, 5 years eating = 10 minutes throat-cutting sacrifice.
The buffalo eats grass but not the owners.
So the unique part is that most of the Torajan people are Christian/Catholic/Protestant, but they still holding on to the root animism belief. Buffalo is a means of transport to carry the deceased to heaven (‘Puya’). At the same token, if the funeral ceremony is not held for the deceased, locals belief that the spirit may be unhappy and brings misfortune to the family. So it is kind of a mixture of both respect and fear.
The rain turned into heavy shower. We took shelter at a local warung (cafe) and have a taste of the Torajan black coffee (Arabica beans).
I saw one guy used his hand to cover the eye of a agitated buffalo. It seemed to have the calming effect (very much similar like the ‘eye-cover’ used in racing horse).
It has been another good experience visiting the buffalo market. The rain plus the output from so many animals made the market an interesting place to walk.
Pasar Bolu is the actual wet market where you can find merchants selling the daily products. It is bigger than the market at Rantepao town center.