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Tana Toraja Cultural Landscape

Author Solivagant
#1 | Posted: 19 May 2008 06:37 | Edited by: Solivagant 
Full name of site: Tana Toraja ("Torajaland")
Country: Indonesia
Short description of site (also include multiple locations if applicable): A cultural landscape consisting of dwellings, cult houses, burial caves and fields etc
Criteria (cultural, natural, mixed): Cultural (Landscape) ii, iii, v, vi
Current status: T List
Outstanding universal value / comparative analysis:
The Torajas are an ethnic group traditionally with animist beliefs living in central Sulawesi (c450k people) who are "renowned for their elaborate funeral rites, burial sites carved into rocky cliffs, massive peaked-roof traditional houses known as tongkonan, and colorful wood carvings." Whilst their festivals and rites are not inscribable on the World Heritage list they may however be taken into account under criterion vi in that they are inescapably bound up with their buildings and landscape (and may also justify inscription on the List of Intangible Heritage in their own right!). Their buildings, burial areas and general landscape are fully the equal in their own way of world class ethnic landscapes from other areas of the world which have been inscribed eg The Dogon and Betamaribe in Africa. There is no similar inscription in SE Asia. This Wiki provides an indication of the vernacular architecture and burial areas (as well as of the "living traditions"):-

Author Assif
#2 | Posted: 19 May 2008 07:34 
I support this too.

Author paul
#3 | Posted: 20 May 2008 02:19 
An example of a traditional cultural landscape from Indonesia is indeed a significant gap. My personal favourite is Western Sumba but perhaps that choice is based more "travel experiences" than hard unesco criteria.

I can definitely support Tana Toraja.

Author Xeres
#4 | Posted: 22 Jun 2008 11:20 
I support this site

i've always though there should be a WHS on Sulawesi. Indonesia has so many wonderful cultures, and this is one of them

Author fr4nc1sc4
#5 | Posted: 18 May 2014 04:56 
Incomplete paper submission in 2014. Nothing in 2015. I do hope that they would come to their senses to (at least) complete the submission in 2016 and get this done and eventually listed!

Author Solivagant
#6 | Posted: 18 May 2014 05:49 | Edited by: Solivagant 
Incomplete paper submission in 2014. Nothing in 2015. I do hope that they would come to their senses to (at least) complete the submission in 2016

Do you have any idea what the "problem" issues are? I have done some Google searches using "UNESCO" and "Toraja" but a Bahasa speaker is likely to be more successful! The Indonesian Ministry of Culture and Tourism had nothing.

If they want to hit the 2016 WHC then they need to be pretty well advanced now in order to hit the early 2015 deadline for submission of documents.

I never really understand WHY there should be "incomplete" nominations. This isn't rocket science - there are plenty of historical examples to refer to, ICOMOS/IUCN are there to help and many countries now use "expert" consultants to assist the preparation of a Nomination File and Management Plan. There seem to be no valid reasons that I can think of for "falling" at the very first hurdle of "completeness" (and Indonesia is of course not alone in this respect)!

I wonder if it is that the bureaucrats, having failed to complete in time, still submit the documentation to make it appear that they have been working!

Author Solivagant
#7 | Posted: 18 May 2014 12:53 | Edited by: Solivagant 
Whilst searching for more info on the Tana Toraja nomination I have come across a number of academic papers on the subject - often by anthropologists and with some dating back as far as the first attempt in 2001. A lot of the papers are only available in full to those keyed in to the "academic" network and (so far!!!!) my attempts to infiltrate it without an e-mail address from an academic institution have failed!

This one seems particularly interesting so I have copied/pasted its title and abstracts here. The Highlights for certain comments are mine but perhaps give an indication of the sorts of issues which have been arising and which might help explain the incredibly long gestation period which this site seems to be going through in order to give birth to "WHS status"! -

Making noble World Heritage in Tana Toraja, Indonesia
Author: Karin Klenke (University of Goettingen) l

Short Abstract
In stratified Toraja society, the nomination of selected sites for World Heritage is highly charged, as their meanings are contested by competing noble headmen. The state institutions engaged in the nomination process and UNESCO have even differing ideas about what may why count as whose heritage.

Long Abstract
In the region of Toraja in the highlands of Sulawesi, Indonesia, a process for nomination as World Heritage as Cultural Landscape has been going on - and off - for more than 15 years. With Toraja's history of fierce inter-village competition, status rivalries among noble headmen and a very weak tradition of political unity, the nomination of only a few selected sites is a culturally, politically and economically highly charged process. The nomination was initiated by the powerful and high-ranking noble family of the hamlet Kete Ke'su', which had excellent connections to the Indonesian Department of Tourism. They hoped to use the 'outstanding universal value to all humanity' certified by UNESCO in the local status economy. Noble headman from all over Toraja put forward different histories, memories and meanings of 'their' sites in order to argue for them to be included and others to be taken off the list.

The local nobility, however, is not the only actor in the nomination process: regional and national administrative units of the Indonesian state and the UNESCO representatives have their say as well. Economic considerations, hopes for a revival of tourism, archaeological investigations, scientific claims and a quest for authenticity come also into play.

This paper explores the competing and contesting ways of constructing knowledge of what can legitimately count as heritage, why is may do so - and whose heritage it is supposed to be. It is based on 8 months of fieldwork in Toraja and the administrative institutions engaged in the nomination process.

Another paper (undated) relating to the University of Goettingen involvement contains this sentence "The reserach project focuses on the efforts of the Toraja in Sulawesi, Indonesia, to achieve UNESCO world heritage status for their cultural heritage. Known for its traditionally, richly decorated houses, one Toraja village had made an initial attempt to achieve such a certification. The regional UNESCO commission considered this application not sufficiently representative for the Toraja people and suggested instead that ten Toraja villages ought to draft an application for nomination as a cultural landscape as this would likely have bigger chances of success."
See fuller extract details here yright-and-film-the-case-of-funeral-rituals-among-the-toraja-in-sulawesi-indonesia/

Can fr4nc1sc4 shed any light on these matters??

Author Solivagant
#8 | Posted: 19 May 2014 02:39 
The following article covers in more detail the early history of the nomination of this site. I hadn't previously appreciated that, originally, only 1 village was to be inscribed. When this was changed to become a wider cultural landscape a whole range of other issues emerged!! I don't yet feel I fully understand these
a. There are a lot of "anthropological" concepts/jargon
b. A good understanding of the history and culture of Sulawesi and the wider region is required.

The whole issue of "Indigeneity" and its relationship to/definition by the concept of "World Heritage" as implemented to date is clearly a live issue with implications way beyond Sulawesi (I think of the difficulties faced by the Canadian nomination of Pimachiowin Aki where the indigenous peoples were not comfortable with UNESCO approaches)

I have also read elsewhere (but, for the moment have "lost" the source!!) that, in fact the "Villages" we can see in Toraja land today, are very much a creation of colonial years during which previously scattered families came together to make it easier to deal with the colonial power. Authenticity??

The main World Heritage-related document in this collection of papers starts on page 149

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