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Tana’, Toraja’s social stratification

The Toraja people recognize the existence of social levels or strata in their society. Social strata in the Toraja language are referred to as tana’. Today the tana’ system is starting to wear off anad is no longer considered too important. But in some areas that still adhere to ancestral customs, tana’ becomes very important.

Tana’ from the beginning it was known to be used as a determinant in carrying out the traditional rituals of the Toraja community. Tana’ is a reference whether someone can do this or his position in the job and the position he may hold.

Actually the tana’ system have been tried to be changed by the Dutch colonial government when they came in Toraja. Regulations concerning tana’ changes especially those related to slavery were issued through Governor Kroezen’s regulation concerning Slavery and Pawn Systems at that time.

Tana’ classification has several differences in some indigenous areas including:

In the Tallulembangna region there are 3 levels of social strata or tana’, namely:

  1. Tana’ bulaan, namely the nobility or tomakaka (bulaan = gold)
  2. Tana’ bassi, which is an independent group (bassi = iron)
  3. Tana’ karurung, which is a group of servants or kaunan

While in the northern region there are 4 levels of tana’ :

  1. Tana’ bulaan, aristocratic/tomakaka group
  2. Tana’ bassi, middle class
  3. Tana’ karurung, an independent group (karurung = palm stem)
  4. Tana’ kua-kua, servant/kaunan group. Kua-kua is a type of water plant that is erratic in its establishment.

Tana’ bulaan is the highest caste in the social order of the Toraja people. This group is a respected person, wise and behavior becomes an example for the community. A literature states that the bearers of this caste are the tomanurung Puang Tamboro Langi’  which dropped in mount of Kandora.

Tana’ bassi is the number two caste or commonly called the middle class, they are leaders who want to defend the interests of the people and uphold justice. Tana’ bassi was introduced by Siambe’ Tangdilino’ which has 9 children who spread aluk todolo (traditional beliefs) throughout Toraja. This group is also called tomakaka.

Tana’ karurung is a lowly society that does public works such as farming. The equipment they use is almost all made from palm stem (karurung). It was stated that tana’ karurung was introduced by Ambe’ Andang and his wife who descended on Tiangka’ (Sangalla’). They are commonly called To Pamulungan and have the title To Sama’.

Tana’ kua-kua is the lowest or the same group as kaunan. Tana’ kua-kua appeared when the three caste groups above violated the law or agreement (basse) or fell into poverty so that they were made servants.

The following are some terms that are often used in the Toraja caste order, especially in the Tallulembangna region.

Puang, the name for pure descendants of the tomanurung.

Tomakaka, in the Toraja language is interpreted as “older brother”, as the nobility is called. This group is divided into:

  • Tomakaka banu, descended from the first founder of a village (penanian), they are the highest Tomakaka.
  • Tomakaka ma’tallo, is people who are (rich) who are appointed as tomakaka on the basis of the agreement of the heads or leaders.
  • Tomakaka balau is a descendant of a Tomakaka with a woman from a low class.

Anak disese, are descended from Puang with women from the Tomakaka group.

To sama’ or To tanpa, is a group that does not include Tomakaka but not kaunan.

Kaunan, the lowest group and these are the status of servants. Kaunan is divided into:

  • Kaunan bulan, those who pay their debt by working for the receivables. They are not traded.
  • Kaunan indan, is a person who is enslaved because of debt and can become free if he pays his debt back.
  • Kaunan mengkaranduk, are those who are unable to defend themselves, their families and property then seek protection from those in power.
  • Kaunan tai manuk, is the lowest servant group because it is a slave of a slave.

The origin of the servant (kaunan)

There are two opinions regarding the origin of the servant. The first tradition says that servant status comes from the sky. Pongpakulando is a servant who descends from the sky. The second tradition states that servants or kaunan appear to be caused by several things including being entangled in debts that are unable to be paid so that they are made servants or fall into poverty or starvation so that they are self-defeating.

There are several types of servant groups, namely:

  1. Kaunan mana’ (ordinary servant)
  2. Kaunan mengkaranduk or tiparanduk
  3. Kaunan dialli (servant purchased)
  4. Kaunan tai manuk

Kaunan mana’/regular servant in Makale is classified as tana’ karurung while in the northern region it is classified as tana’ kua-kua. Tana’ kua-kua along with kaunan tai manuk cannot be ma’talla, which means redeeming the servant’s status by cutting as many buffaloes or pigs as possible. So they and their descendants are hereditary servants.

Kaunan mengkaranduk that it is actually not kaunan/servant, instead it can be tomakaka (nobleman) but because of falling into poverty, being overcome by various difficulties (nalambi’ sumpunna kurin) or being entangled in debt, he be mengkaranduk (defending himself to others).

At Bori’ kaunan it is called waka’ tabaro. Kaunan is permitted to be ma’talla sanda saratu’. In practice 10 buffaloes can be considered as 100 buffaloes. Whereas in the Tallulembangna region all types of kaunan may be ma’talla because of love relationships (Kadang, 2012).

In the past if a kaunan died and did not have offspring, his property belonged to his master. All kaunan groups can become free people if they are able to pay ransom according to customary rules. The amount paid is in accordance with the level of income.

There are still two other classes of slaves known in the past. They are known for their work, tomebalun and tomangliu ulli’. These two types of slaves can never be redeemed at all. Tomangliu ulli’ are those who are tasked with collecting maggots from the bodies of dead people, in the old ritual of death. To mebalun are those who are in charge of wrapping bodies.

Reference : Bibliography 043, 077, 174, 181

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