Indonesian Walking Corpse. Real Zombie?
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In the photo we see what appears to be a Corpse standing upright. Next to her is a coffin full of layers of cloth. Some say that this is an image of a reanimated corpse being led to her new burial spot.
From what I can gather, the Toraja people do practice something akin to the rising of the dead. It seems that the people believe that death is a long process, sometimes taking years as the deceased gradually works their way toward Puya (the afterlife). Very elaborate measures must be taken during the funeral to ensure that the loved one makes it safely to that destination.
Because the funeral arrangements are so extensive, they are also very expensive. For this reason, a body is sometimes placed in a temporary coffin. During this time, the family can accumulate the necessary funds to pay for a proper funeral, which includes a cave or hanging casket, a multi-water buffalo slaughter, chanting, singing, music, stone and wooden effigies to protect the soul during travel, and so on.
Once the funds are raised, so is the dead. It seems that the Toraja genuinely believe that the dead are able to walk themselves to their new burial site. More likely, and what we are seeing depicted in the above picture, is that the somewhat mummified corpse is removed from its temporary coffin and transported upright to the permanent site. As “corpse walking” is part of the tradition, the body is held in the standing position to simulate ambulation.
The Toraja are an ethnic group indigenous to a mountainous region of South Sulawesi, Indonesia.
Toraja Funeral rites
In Toraja society, the funeral ritual is the most elaborate and expensive event. The richer and more powerful the individual, the more expensive is the funeral. In the aluk religion, only nobles have the right to have an extensive death feast. The death feast of a nobleman is usually attended by thousands and lasts for several days. A ceremonial site, called rante, is usually prepared in a large, grassy field where shelters for audiences, rice barns, and other ceremonial funeral structures are specially made by the deceased family. Flute music, funeral chants, songs and poems, and crying and wailing are traditional Toraja expressions of grief with the exceptions of funerals for young children, and poor, low-status adults.
The ceremony is often held weeks, months, or years after the death so that the deceased’s family can raise the significant funds needed to cover funeral expenses. Torajans traditionally believe that death is not a sudden, abrupt event, but a gradual process toward Puya (the land of souls, or afterlife). During the waiting period, the body of the deceased is wrapped in several layers of cloth and kept under the tongkonan. The soul of the deceased is thought to linger around the village until the funeral ceremony is completed, after which it begins its journey to Puya.
Another component of the ritual is the slaughter of water buffalo. The more powerful the person who died, the more buffalo are slaughtered at the death feast. Buffalo carcasses, including their heads, are usually lined up on a field waiting for their owner, who is in the “sleeping stage”. Torajans believe that the deceased will need the buffalo to make the journey and that they will be quicker to arrive at Puya if they have many buffalo. Slaughtering tens of water buffalo and hundred of pigs using a machete is the climax of the elaborate death feast, with dancing and music and young boys who catch spurting blood in long bamboo tubes. Some of the slaughtered animals are given by guests as “gifts”, which are carefully noted because they will be considered debts of the deceased’s family.
There are three methods of burial: the coffin may be laid in a cave or in a carved stone grave, or hung on a cliff. It contains any possessions that the deceased will need in the afterlife. The wealthy are often buried in a stone grave carved out of a rocky cliff. The grave is usually expensive and takes a few months to complete. In some areas, a stone cave may be found that is large enough to accommodate a whole family. A wood-carved effigy, called Tau tau, is usually placed in the cave looking out over the land. The coffin of a baby or child may be hung from ropes on a cliff face or from a tree. This hanging grave usually lasts for years, until the ropes rot and the coffin falls to the ground.