Home Travel Stories News Events Contact Us Faq's

Login User

Destinations in Indonesia

You have to login first to rate this destination
3.88/5 (4 votes)


Home » Tana Toraja » Bolu and Makale Markets: Traces of Culture and Civilization in Toraja’s Traditional Markets

Bolu and Makale Markets: Traces of Culture and Civilization in Toraja’s Traditional Markets

Fixed Dimensions

Images with fixed dimensions
  1. Londa

    Londa : cara masyarakat Tana Toraja (khususnya kaum bangsawan) dalam menguburkan kerabatnya
  2. Londa

    Londa : cara masyarakat Tana Toraja (khususnya kaum bangsawan) dalam menguburkan kerabatnya
  3. Londa

    Londa : cara masyarakat Tana Toraja (khususnya kaum bangsawan) dalam menguburkan kerabatnya
  4. Londa

    Londa : cara masyarakat Tana Toraja (khususnya kaum bangsawan) dalam menguburkan kerabatnya
  5. Londa

    Londa : cara masyarakat Tana Toraja (khususnya kaum bangsawan) dalam menguburkan kerabatnya
  6. Tongkonan

  7. Tongkonan

  8. Tongkonan

  9. Pasar Bolu&Pasar Makale

  10. Pasar Bolu&Pasar Makale

  11. Pasar Bolu&Pasar Makale

  12. Pasar Bolu&Pasar Makale



Traditional markets function not only as a means of sale and exchange, but in fact have many other important roles. Bolu Market and the Makale Market are the two largest markets in TanaToraja, South Sulawesi, and clearly reflect the culture and civilization of the Torajan people and the surrounding communities. But before learning about the markets themselves, one must first be familiar with the history and roles of the market, as well as their relation to the Torajan Society.

The past and present roles of the Toraja Markets


In the past, slaves, firearms, and coffee were some of the main commodities in the Torajan trading system. In the 17th century, Toraja had become part of the global trading system, to trade slaves that were being sent to Siam. In the mid-19th century, with coffee and firearms being added into the goods to be traded, the trading increased rapidly. Coffee and slaves were exported from Toraja, while guns and fabrics were brought into Toraja. Although Toraja’s landscapes are mountainous and seemingly inaccessible, this did not cause a barrier to its position in the global trade.


During that time, the markets which were run by the various ethnic groups throughout Toraja despite being often at war with each other. The largest markets in Toraja at that time were the Kalambe Market, (now known as Bolu Market,) and Rantepao Market, (now known as the Rantepao Morning Market.) According to Bigalke, the market day rotating system came into place within the 19th century. According to this system, each market only opens once every six days, according to a rotational schedule. On market day, large markets can attract a crowd of between 1,500 to 5,000 people, while smaller ones may invite 600 – 800 visitors.

At the beginning of the 20th century, when the Dutch colonial government came entered Toraja, the trading of slaves and fire arms came to an end. The markets then advanced into the sale of crops such as coffee, rice, fruits, vegetables, tobacco and betel nuts. Other products also included rattan, pottery, bamboo crafts and fabrics.


Toraja’s traditional markets of today have changed a lot since a few centuries back. Nowadays, they are managed by the local government, and are divided into 5 groups. Of these 5 groups, 4 are managed directly by the government, while the last is group of small markets, which are managed directly by the local villages.

The first group is the Livestock Markets, which are the Bolu Market in Rantepao and the Makale Market in Makale. Buffalo and pigs are a major commodity in Toraja, and the most important animals for the people, as both these animals are required for every Torajan ceremony. The second group is the Class I Public Markets, which comprises again of the Toraja’s two largest markets: Bolu and Makale. The Class II Public Markets include the Rantepao Morning Market, Ge’tengan and Salubarani Markets in Mengkendek, and Sangalla, Rembon, Bittuang and To’karau Markets in Sessean. The last group is the Class III Public Markets, which are smaller markets. These include the Pindan and Sapan markets in RindingAllo, and Ulusalu, Rantetayo, Pondo, Ledo ponding Ao in Bittuang.

The market system of the present day Toraja still follows the 6 day market shifts plan and the daily market schedule. Based on observations made in 2005, the order of the market opening days in Toraja is Makale, Rembon, Rantepao, Ge’tengan, Rantetayo, Sangalla, then the sequence will start again with Makale. The opening days also rotate, where if Bolu Market was open on Wednesday this week, the following week it will be open on Tuesday. The system of market days are listed on calendars which are printed and distributed in TanaToraja.

The main commodities sold in the Toraja markets in present day are not much different from the goods traded in the beginning of the 20th century. The primary goods are still livestock such as buffalo and pigs, crops such as coffee, cocoa, vegetables and fruit, and other daily needs.

Bolu market is located in Rantepao, the tourist center of Toraja, and is a popular tourist attraction, and an interesting place to visit. As scheduled, the market only opens once in 6 days, and is the main sales center for buffalo as well as pig. Vegetables, fruits, coffee and other food products can also be found in this market.

On market day, the “streets” of the Bolu are bustling with the local people buying and selling, as well as foreign and domestic tourists who come to watch the show. The number of buffalo sold can reach up to 500, especially during the time of ceremonies. The price of a buffalo covers a wide range, depending on color, pattern, and size. A small black buffalo would cost approximately 5 million rupiah, while a larger one of the same color can be sold for 10 – 15 million rupiah. The Tedong Bonga, or spotted buffalo, which are considered superior can be sold for tens of millions of rupiah, while the very rare albino buffalos can reach a selling price of even hundreds of millions.

Makale Market

If Buffalo are the main commodities sold in Bolu, the equivalent in Makale market would be pigs. Makale market is housed in a block of approximately 50 x 20 meters, and is often referred to as “The Swine Market.” The market is divided into three different sections: one for live piglets, another for live adult pigs, and another for pork.

Toraja piglets are kept in rice sacks, only opened for prospective buyers to take a peek, while adult pigs are usually tied to bamboo posts in the main hall. Piglets are usually purchased to be reared and bred.

The price on pigs starts at around 500,000 – 750,000 for a piglet, while adults cost between 3 – 9 million rupiah, though some can be sold for tens of millions, should their weight by chance rival that of a buffalo. Unlike the buffalo, the black pig is more expensive than the albino or spotted pig. Like the other markets, Makale is open only once in six days.

Although the majority of Toraja’s population are Christian, most still adhere to the teachings of Animism, giving animals an extremely important role in Torajan culture. Buffalos are a requirement that must be met in any traditional ceremony, especially funerals, as it is believed that the buffalo, when slaughtered, act as a vehicle for the spirit of the deceased to reach Nirvana.

Buffalo and pigs also function as a status symbol. The higher the position of the family organizing the ceremony, the more buffalo must be slaughtered. For middle class families, 8 buffalo and 50 pigs are the mandatory number that must be met when performing a traditional funeral. For nobility, as many as 25 – 100 buffalo may be slaughtered.

Though countless things have changed over the centuries, some things remain the same. In Toraja, the very existence of these markets is deeply integrated with theirculture and traditions, and market days form a part of the heritage of Torajan society that can never be separated.

See on The Map

Bolu and Makale Markets: Traces of Culture and Civilization in Toraja’s Traditional Markets

Related Destinations


Related Activity

Heritage Sites

Heritage Sites Many of the world's most ancient wonders can be found in Indonesia. From sacred temples to palace ruins, from prehistoric remains to living traditions...

read more