Tongkonan is traditional house of Tana Toraja, South Sulawesi. The architecture is very unique with the shape of the roof is like a boat. It is said that the boat-shaped is inspired by Chinese empire ship in the past. And Tongkonan still occupied by the Torajan.
Tongkonan derived from tongkon which means sit. Tongkonan was the center of government in the past and also to see how the Torajan life changes. The house is not owned by individual, yet it is owned collectively in a family tree.
Toraja has a strong traditional culture and those must be obeyed in the daily life within the community.
Tongkonan upper part, usually used the keep weapons and other valuable belongings. While the middle is residential area.
Tongkonan has 3 rooms: North, South and Midle. Usually, the north or called as Tengalok is for children bedroom, living room and for ritual. South room is functioned for the head of the family. And the middle room or Sali used as dinig room, kitchen and to put dead body if any member of the family die. The lower part is used for chickens and livestock and to keep farming tools.
There are 3 types of Tongkonan: Tongkonan Layuk, Tongkonan Pekaindoran and Tongkonan Batu Ariri. The first mentioned, Tongkonan Layuk is where religious is manadeg. Tongkonan Pekaindoran is used for custom and tradition function. And Tongkonan Batu Ariri is a supporting tongkonan.
In Torajan believe that god things arrive from the North and their ancestors came from the north. No wonder that Tongkonan faces north. And the barn faces the south.
In Torajan culture, Tongkonan is symbol of mother and barn (alang sura) is symbol of father, that both built face to face.
Tongkonan is decorated with bull head, which shows the social and economic status of the family. The bull head is attached at the pilar at the front area. The more bull horns in front of the house , means the family has higher social class. Bull usually is sacrificed whenever family member dies.
Tongkonan of royalties are different from common Tongkonan. That of royalties has different decorative motives and more refined.