Synopsis:  About the buffalo and pig market at Bolo.  A few thoughts about animals, rights, and privileges.   About a wedding and a confirmation ceremony.

The bull and pig market in Bolo is famous in all of Tona Toraja.  It happens every six days and people arrive by the truck load from the most remote villages.  Especially during the dry season (May through December), when funeral ceremonies happen and pigs and buffalos are slaughtered by the tens of thousands, this market is bustling.

After seeing the ceremony, I now understand better, where the need for these quantities of animals comes from.  People from all over Sulawesi profit from the Toraja funerary traditions and raise these animals to bring them here for sale.

About a thousand buffalos and pigs were at the market.  About 2/3 of them will be sold, Yussuf told me.  One of them was an albino buffalo, worth almost $100,000!  The animals were divided into Torajan-raised and outsiders.  Obviously, the Torajan animals were preferred, but the outsider animals may at times be a better bargain.

Pigs again, were strapped onto what I would consider inhumane and cruel bamboo traps.  They could not move an inch.  All that was left from them was to scream and shit and they did plenty of that at either end.

In my 5 weeks in Indonesia I have observed a lot of animal cruelty.  In Kalimantan, large birds were tied to posts and would just stand up to a year before they would be killed and eaten. 

Dogs in Bali, which I had assumed to be pets turned out to be wild and neglected, often aggressive and sick animals.  Flea infestation was just the beginning.  I saw cancer growth and broken limbs and mouth infestations.  It was simply disgusting but also deeply disturbing that this situation was allowed to exist.

Are animal rights a privilege for Western animals? 

There seems to be such reverence on one hand, particularly for the pig and the buffalo around here, yet to tie them up, to push and pull them around, to cut through the buffalo’s noses — their most sensitive parts — so they can be led around; all of this is common practice and accepted in daily life. 

One thing was reassuring to know. Everyone of the pigs and bulls that gets slaughtered is eaten and all the parts of the animal are used for one thing or another.  Skins are dried, bones and hoofs are used for carvings, horns are displayed, meat and all the innards are eaten or used as animal food.

Well, all of this is just going through my head especially in comparison to the way we care for, protect, and even pamper many of our pet animals.   

On the other hand… if I ever were to visit a slaughterhouse in the West,  or a non-organic animal farm, I might come face to face with the cruelty we impose on our food animals.  Perhaps, I would come to regard practices around here as the more humane?

Aside from the animal market, there is the daily market for local produce, fish, fruits, vegetables and anything else you might need.  It is crowded and smelly and full of things I cannot identify.

One set of products I finally figured out:  it is what the women do instead of smoking.  Indeed, it’s only the men who smoke cigarettes.  I have not seen a single woman in public smoking.  Yussuf told me that smoking women would be equated with prostitutes.  Women chew tobacco.  But first there is a kind of a bean they bit off, then they add a powder and then tobacco leaves.  This mix then gets chewed up for a long time.  When you spit it out it has turned color.  Spit and your mouth will be red. 

Is that attractive? 

As Yussuf and I have been riding around on his bike to see traditional architecture and attend the ceremony, we stumbled on two other interesting festivities:  a wedding ceremony and a tent set up for a confirmation ceremony at a Catholic church.  I included pictures of these here as well.