Toraja people live is highlands in the south-center of Sulawesi Island (Indonesia)
The Toraja have very unique culture and burial traditions.
Toraja rock tombs are typically carved in large boulders or rock cliffs. It takes several months to manually chisel a rock tomb, and one tomb is used for an entire family, not just one person.
Tombs are usually closed with a wooden door where a "pa'tedong" (the Holly buffalo of the Toraja) is carved or drawn. Sometimes old tombs have lost their doors, and the bones can be seen. Often, tombs are made in places with a beautiful view of the surrounding landscape.
Toraja people place offerings at the tomb doors, that are often objects or drinks/food that the deceased liked.
Toraja people often build small structures (like miniature alang rice granaries) with the traditional horn-shaped roofs, near their tombs.
Babies Buried in Trees
Young children are buried in trees: If a child dies before he has started teething, the baby is wrapped in cloth and placed inside a hollowed out space within the trunk of a growing tree, and covered over with a palm fiber door. The hole is then sealed and as the tree begins to heal, the child is believed to be absorbed.
Cave Burials and Cliff Side Tombs
The Toraja people also bury their deceased in cliff-side tombs (with the coffin hanging on a cliff) and in natural caves.
Once inside the cave, the coffin receives offerings and personal items belonging to the deceased. E.g. a heavy smoker will receive cigarette offerings.
Another interesting aspect of Toraja burials is the use of effigies called "Tau-tau" that represent the deceased. The effigies are life-size wooden sculptures with large open spooky eyes, and they are generally placed on a balcony above a rock tomb. They are like dead persons looking day and night at the living people.
In touristic areas, the tau-tau effigies look like Grevin museum wax sculpture, but traditional tau-tau effigies with their big open eyes can still be found. Unfortunately some of the nicest tau-tau got stolen by unscrupulous antique dealers, which is very sad.
See a lot of interesting information in this academic research publication about Toraja Burial Traditions: Archeological Study About Burial Tradition of Toraja Ethnic, South Sulawesi, Indonesia by Akin Duli, Rosmawati, Muhammad Nur, Stephen Chia, Zuliskandar Ramli from Hasanuddin University, Makasar, Indonesia
Sites about the Toraja funeral traditions: