Tongkonan and Alang – the icons of Torajan Architecture

The shape of tongkonan is so unique that it becomes of the icons of Tana Toraja.

Palawa 2

The number of buffalo horns represent the number of buffalos the family had slaughtered. The jaws of the pigs were hang on the side of the house.


The detailed artworks are intricate and symbolic for the Torajan culture.

Tongkonan and Alang (12)

Both Kete Kesu and Palawa have some traditional villages that are near to Rantepao.

Kete Kesu (1)

The houses were made of wood and bamboo without using any nail.

Tongkonan and Alang (10)

You can find plants growing on the more traditional (organic) houses.

Tongkonan and Alang (8)

The newer rice barn (Alang) is made out of zinc instead of bamboo for obvious saving in labour and cost.

Tongkonan and Alang (13)

We were lucky to see the preparation of the harvest festival where the community is constructing alang and also temporary shelter for the celebration.

Tongkonan and Alang (5)

Each panel is hand carved.

Tongkonan and Alang (2)

And hand painted.

Tongkonan and Alang (3)

The result is stunning intricate pattern.

Tongkonan and Alang (4) 

You can always see a pair of roster (chicken) standing on the glowing sun. Another common icon is the buffalo.

Tongkonan and Alang (14)

3 colours albino buffalo are the gems of the funeral ceremony. The horns are real and the buffalo head is carved on wood block.

Tongkonan and Alang (11)

You can see the typical animals being sacrified who help to send their ancestor to heaven.

Tongkonan and Alang (15)

The photo below is the new ceremonial hall under construction.

Tongkonan and Alang (7)

The view outside the hall. It was raining thus the sky was grey.

Tongkonan and Alang (6)

More close up views of the decorations.

Tongkonan and Alang (9)

There seems to be construction going on every village we go.

Tongkonan and Alang (16)

Time to say goodbye to he Tongkonan.

Kete Kesu (2)

Tourist can always buy souvenir with the iconic symbol.

Tongkonan and Alang (1)

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