The Toraja are an ethnic group indigenous to a mountainous region of South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Their population is approximately 1 million people, with 500,000 of whom still live in Tana Toraja Regency, Toraja Utara Regency, and Mamasa Regency. Most of the population is Christian, and others are Muslim and have local beliefs known as "Aluk To Dolo". The Indonesian government has recognized this belief as Aluk To Dolo ("Way of the Ancestors").
The word Toraja comes from the Bugis language's To Riaja, meaning "people of the uplands". The Dutch colonial government named the people Toraja in 1909. Torajans are renowned for their elaborate funeral rites, burial sites carved into rocky cliffs, massive peaked-roof traditional houses known as Tongkonan, and colorful wood carvings. Toraja funeral rites are important social events, usually attended by hundreds of people and lasting for several days.
Before the 20th century, Torajans lived in autonomous villages, where untouched by the outside world. In the early 1900s, Dutch missionaries first worked to convert Torajan highlanders to Christianity. When the Tana Toraja regency was further opened to the outside world in the 1970s, it became an icon of tourism in Indonesia: it was exploited by tourism developers and studied by anthropologists. By the 1990s, when tourism peaked, Toraja society had changed significantly, from an agrarian model in which social life and customs were out growths of the Aluk To Dolo to a largely Christian society.
source :