Nearby the location of the King’s Tombs of Sangalla in Suaya we visited a third burial site named Kambira. Of all the burial sites, gravesites, ancient tombs, and morbid locations I have visited in Tana Toraja, Kambira was the most unsettling and intense. The ambience experienced there is unlike anything found in Tana Toraja or in Sulawesi for that matter.
After parking our car and visiting the insides of a nearby traditional house, we bought our tickets from an old woman who could only speak the local dialect and not even Indonesian, just to indicate how far removed from a modern city this is. We walked down a path surrounded in a bamboo grove. At the end of the path we encountered the object we went to see, a large tree, split in half due to a thunderstorm years ago. This tree here contains several baby graves. A few of these graves are dated to over a hundred years ago.
The story behind this tree is that when a baby in this area of Tana Toraja dies before it has any teeth, it is brought to this tree and encased within a hole carved in the tree. Some of the Toraja people believe that, in time, the spirit of the baby will grow up together with the tree and thus it can eventually reach the sky and find peace in the afterlife.
This is quite a morbid location, but also strangely beautiful in a way. Walking around the area, you will not see any remains of babies, but just the idea of babies buried and encased in the tree behind a little wooden door is something very unique and weirdly interesting. The burial places of the babies in the tree are covered with a little door made of wood and the sturdy and long-lasting fibers of a palm tree. These materials can withstand quite a lot, so they are strong. So, overall yeah, this was quite a morbid but interesting experience.