1st Place / Editorial / Photo Essay and Feature Story

Living for Death

  • Photographer
    Alain Schroeder
  • Date of Photograph
    2016

In Toraja (Indonesia), the rituals associated with death are complex and expensive. Therefore, when a person dies, it can take weeks, months, or even years for the family to organize the funeral.  During this time, the deceased is considered to be "sick" and kept at home. While it remains a sad time, the transition from life to death is a slow and peaceful process strengthening family bonds. Depending on the family, the body may be kept uncovered, bundled in layers of cloth or in a coffin. In the region of Pangala, the Ma' Nene or "cleaning of the corpses" ceremony takes place after the rice harvest. Coffins are removed from their burial sites and opened. The mummies are cleaned, dried in the sun and given a change of clothes. Expressions of sadness are mixed with the overall happy atmosphere surrounding these moments of bonding with loved ones and honoring ancestors.

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