Tana Toraja’s custom’s – Part two – The meat market

(Warning!!! This article contains some gruesome pictures!)

There was blood everywhere around us. Loud noises of people shouting , dogs barking and the smell of burning flesh encompassed us on all sides. This was the sight me and my sister were face to face with at a Tana Torajan meat market. We felt sick to the stomach and still we couldn’t help but stare at all the dead and live animals for sale.

The people of Tana Toraja area in Sulawesi are known for eating the meat of many more animals than anywhere else. They eat dogs, rats, snakes, bats, and fish and chicken, but even pigs.

This is a picture of a man buying a roasted dog:










They sold live dogs too, but not as pets. No, they were meant for food. I didn’t take a picture of those, they had such a sad look in their eyes that I couldn’t bring myself.

This is another picture of roasted dogs:








The market was quite busy with people buying and selling, bartering about prices. The floor was soaked with blood and we were careful about where we stepped. The people were smiling at us, everyone greeted us, most of them saying ‘Hi Mister’ as this was probably the extent of their English vocabulary.

This guy posed for us with a pig’s head:










It was interesting to see how natural all of this was for them, they didn’t consider the practise of eating dogs or killing them there on site anymore barbaric than we consider eating a chicken breast barbaric.

For me it was still quite a shock, being a vegetarian of 15 years just until a few months before this experience. We didn’t eat any meat in Tana Toraja as we thought we could never be sure about what was on our plate. We had tofu and tempeh, which is the best in Indonesia anyway.

Someone offered us barbecued rats:










A snake for sale:








These are bats, they cut off their wings before they roast them:








A boy getting the fire ready to roast some dogs:










They sold chicken too:








And fish:










It was a shocking experience but one that is still very vivid in my memory even after 4 years. All I can say, if you have the chance to go to Tana Toraja then don’t miss it as you will get to see unique things.


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