Indonesia: The End is the Beginning
In Indonesia, death is not the end of life but the beginning of the afterlife. Death marks a new phase of being in this world. The departed remained integral parts of a family, physically and spiritually, long after the initial moment of death.
Funerals in Indonesia include moments of prescribed mourning. But, they also include an affirmation that life and death are a continuum rather than discrete phases, a belief that eases the sting of loss.
This body of work looks at funeral rites and burial practices at life’s physical end in Bali, Sumba, a remote island in the far east near Timor, and Toraja, an isolated region of Sulawesi, a land mass due east of Borneo.
The rituals are varied, but united by a worship of ancestors and a belief in the ascendancy of the soul. Funerals aren’t occasions to merely gather and mourn the dead: they are opportunities to celebrate life, to find solace in community, and to express gratitude for the spiritual guidance of the ancestors.