The Walking Corpse Ritual in Tana Toraja

Tana Toraja Dead Tradition – As we know before, Tana Toraja is one of the best tourist attractions in Indonesia. This land saved many sacred and mysterious things. All living things will surely meet death, but you can not predict when and where it will be. You only trust when the people die then the physical will not be able to move again and perform activities like a living being. Ever watched the television series ‘The Walking Dead’ or better known as the zombie movie. But, the actual walking corpse exists in the real world, and you can find these exciting things in Indonesia.

If you have ever heard or have been in Tana Toraja, South Sulawesi (If you don’t, read our previous article that talks about Tana Toraja) and here you can meet with the ‘Toraja walking corpse’ or ‘Toraja walking dead’. Toraja Indonesia is famous for having a tradition of dressing corpses just like when they were alive. This tradition is called the Ma’nene Ritual, a ritual to remember the ancestors, parents and other relatives who have died.

Until now, Ma’nene ritual held by Baruppu residents in Toraja, they still maintain and perform this unique tradition routinely as an ancestral heritage. Also, the ceremonies are conducted every year in August is interpreted as the ruler of kinship between them. In fact, it has become a standard unwritten rule that is always obeyed by every citizen.

The history of Ma’nene

Ma’nene’s story begins with an animal hunter named Pong Rumasek who lived hundreds of years ago. At that time, he hunted into the mountainous forests of Balla. Told that in the middle of the hunt, Pong Rumasek, a resident of Toraja, found the human body that died. The body lay in the middle of the road in the dense forest. His condition is pathetic.

Toraja Mysterious Ceremony

Toraja Mysterious Ceremony – Credit:

The body of the corpse was just a bone. Pong Rumasek’s heart stirred, and he wanted to take care of the corpse. The body wrapped in the clothes he wore. Once deemed safe, Pong Rumasek then continued his hunt. Since the incident, whenever Pong hunts animals he is always easy to get it, including fruit in the forest. The strange thing happened again when Pong Rumasek came home. The crops, suddenly harvest faster than the time. In fact, the results are abundant.

Since then, every time hunting back to the forest, Pong always meet the spirit of the dead he had ever treated. In fact, the minds are often invited to hunt herded animals. Pong Rumasek also concluded that the bodies of people who died must remain glorified, though it was only bones. Therefore, once every year after the great harvest in August, every inhabitant of Baruppu always hold Ma`nene, a funeral ceremony to honor the ancestor, Pong Rumasek.

Schedule of Ma’nene tradition

A Ma’nene ritual is a form of appreciation to the deceased ancestors or people by cleaning and changing the clothes of the ancestor’s body. Ma’nene is always done in August – October, once in three years.

This activity is done for 30-minutes. After changing the clothes of old bodies, the community then gathered to eat together. The food served is the result of the donation of each family of lineal descent who perform the activities of Ma’nene custom procession. The people of Toraja hope their ancestral spirits will keep them from nasty disorders, plant pests, as well as bad luck.

Ma’nene done in conjunction with traditional ceremony Rambu Solo, where the family brings animal sacrifices such as pigs or buffalo to the grave to ask for protection and pray for the abundant sustenance. Some places do Ma’nene usually called Ma’ta’da which means giving offerings to the dead family spirits.

While for the schedule of this tradition in 2017 is following below that we collected from various sources that hold in four different locations in August until September 2017.

Toraja Walking Dead Photos

Tana Toraja Corpse Festival

Tana Toraja Corpse Festival – Credit:


Ma’nene – Credit:

Walking Corpse Toraja

Walking Corpse Toraja – Credit:

Torajaland Changed Clothes of the Walking Dead

Torajaland Changed Clothes of the Walking Dead – Credit:

Tana Toraja Ma'nene

Tana Toraja Ma’nene – Credit:

Other resources:

Ma'nene rituals on Youtube The Walking Corpses of Indonesia