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Feasting in Southeast Asia$
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Brian Hayden

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780824856267

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824856267.001.0001

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The Remarkable Torajan Feasting Complex

The Remarkable Torajan Feasting Complex

(p.185) 6 The Remarkable Torajan Feasting Complex
Feasting in Southeast Asia

Brian Hayden

University of Hawai'i Press

The villages in Tana Toraja, Sulawesi, host some of the most lavish feasts in Southeast Asia, especially for funerals or memorials. In addition megaliths were raised for the wealthiest deceased family members. There is also considerable variability in economics, sociopolitical organization, and feasting within the Torajan area. This chapter discusses and tries to explain some of this variability, from low level transegalitarian villages in poor mountainous areas to the proto- or real chiefdom levels of the valley bottoms where paddy rice produces major surpluses. The corporate kindred with its ancestral house as the center of ritual and feasting activities is a distinctive feature of Torajan societies. Slavery was very developed, and secondary burials were strongly associated with elites in order to provide enough time to amass as much wealth as possible for proper funeral feasts. Why funeral feasts feature so prominently in Southeast Asia tribal societies is discussed. Other feasts were hosted by households, reciprocal work groups, lineages, corporate kindreds, villages, districts, and village alliances.

Keywords:   Toraja, transegalitarian, chiefdoms, megaliths, secondary burial, slavery, funerals, corporate groups, ancestral houses

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