The water buffalo is invaluable throughout Asia as every thing from the milk, meat and dung are used in everyday life. There are few places where the powerful animal is more prized than in Tana Toraja on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. The huge animal is treated like a member of the family and their human partner spends each and everyday with the bovine beast washing, feeding and caring for his companion. The relationship is mutually beneficial as the beast of burden provides labor by plowing fields, providing transportation and many other tasks that the largely agrarian society requires.
The animals come in various colors, hide patterns and sizes with horns up to 2 meters (over 6.5 feet) long. The most prized however are the albino variety with blue eyes and well-shaped horns, much like the guy pictured here. To own a near perfect specimen like this is akin to having a fleet of the finest automobiles, a private jet or any other show of wealth in our Western world.
These images come from Balifornian Films (http://www.balifornian.com) upcoming documentary on the elaborate Torajan funerary traditions and rituals, which include the slaughter of these loyal animals. The funeral celebrations can last weeks with hundreds of mourners bringing offerings including cigarettes, pigs and their own coveted water buffalo. The deceased are then entombed in cliff side tombs, deep in caves or even hanging graves. There is much mystery and intrigue woven into this part of the world.
Sulawesi is the home of the age old frightening myth of the "boogie man" propagated in the 15th century by the English to promote negative views of their rivals, the Buginese, who battled the marauding English, Dutch and other Europeans who were trying to obtain strategic control of the lucrative spice trade. In colonial times, cloves for example, coveted by dentists for their anesthetic properties, were more expensive than gold. The cloves only grew on the small ‘spice islands' of Sulawesi. This was also home to many other spices that were desirable the world over.
Copyright © 2010 Balifornian Tours and Travel Blog ~ Michael Doliveck
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