The unpretentious Architecture of Tana Toa
by Sapril Akmady
Care-care na riek, Pammali juku riek, Tana Koko riek, Balla situju-tuju!
The life is enough if we have clothes, food, rice field and an unpretentious house.
(Gella Puto, Amma Toa representative, 2001)
Studying tribal architecture of Southeast Asia has brought idea to examine one of tribe live in the southeastern part of south Sulawesi. The area is known because of their black clothes, black houses, and their unpretentious lifestyle. It is also known as an isolated area with many myths related to the people and their culture. Visiting Tana Toa ri Kajang (The Ancient land of Kajang) means to visit homogeneity of vernacular houses and everybody should follow the adat law (hadat; customary law), uses black clothes before entering Ilalang Embayya (inner Kajang).
Studying Tana Toa architecture is very interesting and very important because of two reasons. First, it is a small number of scholars who pay attention to study Tana Toa, particularly study related to architecture as a part of the Tana Toa people’s culture. Second, because they still live in and keep their tradition among modern world ideas. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to define the architecture of Tana Toa Architecture as a part of study of Southeast Asian tribal architecture.
In order to accomplish this purpose, this paper will first explore the architecture of Tana Toa by providing theories, data, and images from the field beginning with description of Tana Toa area. To provide some background information, this paper will also describe the basic concepts of building houses of the Tana Toa that connects the Austronesian cosmology. Then, this paper also will discuss the architecture of Tana Toa compared with other architectures from many areas in Indonesia and Southeast Asia.
It will conclude with a discussion of the architecture of Tana Toa and the way they resist from outsider idea.
Tana Toa (The Ancient Land)
Tana Toa is a name of a village of Kecamatan Kajang (sub district of Kajang) in Kabupaten Bulukumba (District Bulukumba), South Sulawesi Province, Indonesia (see appendix P. 2 - 4). Historically, Kajang used to be a kingdom of the northernmost coast. At the center of Kajang, there is Tana Toa which has a great mystical area and magic connotation. Furthermore, at the center of Tana Toa, there is Possi Tana (the navel of the earth).
People of Tana Toa speak Makassar language with a Konjo dialect. However, Konjo also refers to a string of Makassar dialects spoken in villages lying on the boundary between Makassar and Bugis Areas. In Tana Toa, Konjo Language is identified as Konjo Highland and classified as a part of Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, Sulawesi, South Sulawesi, Makassar (etnologue, 2005). The Village of Tana Toa is administratively controlled by kepala desa (chief of village). However, people who live in ilalang embayya (inner Kajang) are led by their own chief called Amma Toa (The Old Father).
The figure of Amma Toa is circled by myth. A tremendous mystique is believed to be reincarnation of all previous Amma Toa. Successful candidates to succeed a previous Amma Toa are chosen by a long and complicated process. A series of omens (a buffalo, a cock, and incense smoke) must all indicate the same candidate, who must then be able to recite a series of myths and genealogies flawlessly without ever having studied them (Gibson, 2005).
People of Tana Toa have unique habit, they always wear black clothes. (See plate 1-7). According to Tana Toa people, black color is a reflection of the implementation of patuntung belief (a local religion of Tana Toa people). Using black color also gives an interpretation that the man, before be born, have live in the dark place until they was born to world. Therefore, Tana Toa people always remember the place that they came from by using black clothes as a symbol for representing that idea (Aminah, 1989). Furthermore, everybody believes that black clothes are a symbol of unpretentious lifestyle, one of patuntung value. Based on patuntung belief, everybody who want to enter Tana Toa, particularly Ilalang Embayya (gate of inner Kajang), should be clothed in black. Moreover, people who do not wear black clothes can borrow them from Tana Toa people who live near by the gate. If some body breaks it, they will be punished by the village chief or Amma Toa community itself. The strength of patuntung belief among Tana Toa people has influenced the culture of Tana Toa. One of the influences is reflected to their architecture.
Architecture of Tana Toa
The architecture of Tana Toa in this paper is divided by main architectural features, sculptures, ornaments, cemetery and their ritual stuff related to the house. The architecture of Tana Toa looks similar to general Bugis-Makassar houses types. They are built with wooden H-frame with three main parts which is related to Austronesian cosmology (Waterson, 1990). All houses have a navel of the house called possi balla. (See plate 16, 18). However, there are several differences such as ornaments and functions. Tana toa houses are built by using sunken wooden house posts/wooden pillars (see plate 20). All houses in inner Kajang are also built without using nails because it is prohibited by adat (customary law) or patuntung belief. Because of black color dominates almost all clothes, it is also influence the color of houses. The Tana Toa houses are not painted given “dark atmosphere” to all houses.
There are three main parts of the Tana Toa house. The upper part is called para, the middle part is named kale balla and the under part is called Siring. Three layers of the house reflect Austronesian cosmology idea (see plate 15, 16). The Para include anjong (finial), pattongko (roof) and also as a storage for keeping wet rice, corn or other main food. The middle part is named kale balla include guest reception space, kitchen, bed space for men, and a space called tala-tala (a special room for women only). Tala-tala is made higher than other floors about 7-10 inches. In the middle part, there is a pillar identified as possi balla (the navel of the house), (see plate 18). The posi balla is a post symbolizes a mother and birth (Sukman, 1993). Choosing a wood for making posi balla is done carefully by Uragi (The master of the house). It should be a log/timber (Kajang: Kalole) brought from forest with special ritual ceremony. Uragi also in charge to find good day for building the house by using kutika (a traditional calendar (see plate 33).
People of Tana Toa always do ritual ceremonies around the naval of the house. The under part is called siring (see plate 30). Some houses in Tana Toa use the siring as stalls for water buffalos, chickens, or horses. Another function of Siring is sometimes people do weaving loom and coloring thread.
The roof is constructed from palm leaves, Nifah fruticans. One of specific ornaments on the top of the house placed in front of the gable is called Anjong, kind of traditional finials from Kajang. The form of the finials is made with many variations (see plate 20-22). Some of Anjongs are formed like rooster, dragon, hornbill and star. Formations of anjong for Tana Toa people are associated as the upper world symbol. It is also different with Bugis and Makassar house using water buffalo horn as a finial of chief houses. However, hornbill can be found in many ritual ornaments which are also associated with the upper world (Lathiefl, 2003).
Kale Balla (The middle part) of the house there are three spaces. The first space called latta ri olo (front unit) is a space for guest. The second called latta ritangnga (middle unit) is used by resident to receive guests. The last is named Latta ri boko (back unit) or called tala-tala space (somewhat higher than the main floor). Using tala-tala in Tana Toa is different from paddaserang (a raised side) Makassar and Bugis houses. For Makassar houses, only residences of the higher nobility were allowed to sit on the paddaserang. (Pelras, 2003). Whereas in Tana Toa, tala-tala is used for women and residents and guests cannot enter the tala-tala. Tala-tala is covered by wooden board like a room. In the center of the house, there is a central house post called possi balla (the navel of the house). A coconut with leaves is hung on the pillar and covered by sarong. Some houses have carved pillar for identifying the navel of the house as an important part of the houses spiritually and physically. The function of the center of the house is a place for offering related to ritual ceremonies inside the house (see plate 20). The wall of the house is made of wooden planks, some houses use bamboo chips installed with horizontal way. The use of horizontal way of the wooden planks symbolized that “do not make alive something that is dead” (a tree have been cut is considered as a dead thing, so it should not be used in vertical way, as it was live). It means prohibition to do unrealistic things (Akib, 2003).
Based on the Austronesian cosmology, people in all parts of south sulawesi (including Toraja, Mandar, Bugis and Makassar) have three layers level to the universe layer. The upper layer called boting langik , the middle layer called Ale Kawa, and the under layer called uri liyu This concept also can be found in Tana Toa houses (see plate 15). The concept of the building is spiritually based on the Austronesian cosmos. On the top of the house called para which is related to individual space, one of its functions as ummatang, a place to give offerings to the upper world spirits or god. It also functions, the function is also as storage for paddy where it is considered as a symbol from the upper world to human being (Sang hiyang sri, God of paddy). The middle part called Kale balla is a space for family as a symbol of human beings place. Next, in the under part called siring is considered for public space, it is associated as a place for the underworld where animals can live (horse, chicken, dog, et cetera). All the concepts refers that the higher part of the house, the more private it will be. Furthermore, it is a sacred place.
In addition, kale balla (see plate 27), the middle part of the house, is also classified by three symbols with different meanings. The inner side of the house also becomes more private than the front side; no one can enter the tala-tala part. It is only for residents and for women sleeping area.
Some house in Tana Toa use a small window without cover flag. The reason has the small windows is because some people, particularly old women, feel uncomfortable with over brightness. Those houses that use wide windows is houses lie near gate border or near out side Tana Toa houses. On the contrary, houses at the inner Kajang as in Benteng sub-village (a place where megalithic a stone identified as the navel of the earth is found). One of special places is the kitchen. It is placed in the middle of front unit and middle unit of the house. Therefore, everyone who enters the house directly sees the kitchen. The kitchen uses firewood and stone fireplace. Based on Tana Toa people’s explanation, it means that every guest can know they are invited to have food or should go because no food inside the house (Akib, 2003)
The orientation concept of the Tana Toa house, particularly in sub-village Benteng, is known as pangolong (the way of the house face), face to one direction. All the houses face towards the West. The direction is related and based on Patuntung (local belief of Tana Toa peole). The West is a direction where a symbol of the first ancestor of Tana Toa people known as Pakrasangan Iraya (Northern village in the customary forest Tupalo) (Sukman, 2003). This house direction is opposed to other South Sulawesi areas. For example, the orientation concepts of Toraja and Mamasa houses are faced toward the north because the North is ulunna langik (the head of sky) where the god live (Tangdilinting, 1978). The orientation concept of the Bugis house is always faced towards the East because it is considered as a source of all living things (Paeni, 1988).
The architecture of Tana Toa as like other houses in South Sulawesi is built by using the concept of austronesian cosmology—three layer of the universe; upper world, middle world and under world. Three parts of them are reflected as Para (roof part is considered as upper world), Kale Balla (middle part is considered as middle world) and Siring (under part). Three layers symbolize a value assumed that the higher layer reflect the more sanctified or sacred space and the lower layer reflects the unconsecrated or profane space.
The architecture of Tana Toa is influenced by a belief, a local belief called patuntung where it also influences the existence of traditional houses of Tana Toa. It can be seen as the consistency of the Tana Toa people keeps their life through their belief.
This paper is a brief introduction for Tana Toa architecture. Therefore, a deep study related to the architecture and the symbol of the houses of the Tana Toa is very important. Besides, it is interesting because there are many scholars, especially local scholar who assume that Tana Toa people are “the proto Makassar”. Therefore, a deeper research to answering this assumption is very important and one perspective is from architectural analysis.
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 Such as Christian Pelras, Thomas Gibson, and Katherine R. Many scholars only do research on Bira, Tana Beru (areas near by Kajang) known as boatbuilders of the famaous boat called Phinisi. A recent study about architecture of Tana Toa was done by Sukman, local scholar (Arsitektur vernakular Ammatoa-Kajang di Sulawesi-Selatan. Karakteristik dan beberapa aspek simbolik dalam perwujudan rumah tinggal, 1993).
 Most of photographs was taken from outside because it is impossible to use flash or light inside the house.
 Tana Toa also associated with “black magic”. They are known among Makassar and Bugis people as people who master black magic such as making head smaller.
 Mamasa and Toraja are areas lie on the northern of south Sulawesi. They also have different type of house, even between Mamasa and Toraja also have different concept event they have same local religion called Aluk Todolo means The old religion.
 The Proto makassar term is introduced by Mills, opposite with Bullbeck (see The Bugis, Pelras C. P.41.)