DEATADistance Education Association of Tanzania
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(10) Toraja sometimes use the word sumanga' interchangeably with deata to mean a person's 'spirit' in this sense.
It involves two series of complicated sacrifices which attempt to purify and transform a shadow back into a 'life-spirit' (deata).
Three nights after the completion of the ma'nene' rites, the head can be utilized and the ancestral spirit can be converted into deata.
As soon as the spirit of the deceased is thought to have reached the western part of the sky, the ritual is not interrupted and the shadow can be immediately converted into deata. A commoner's shadow does not require a head in order to pass from west to east.
Retaining some of the qualities of deata, this shadow requires the construction of a bamboo effigy (tau-tau lampa) as its temporary receptacle.
Some shadows are heavier than others and the acquisition of ancestorhood is organized and achieved through different combinations of mortuary offerings but, as all shadows can be transformed into deata, these ritual articulations manifest and embody different degrees of a similar kind of potency.
From there, if the deceased was a true human, it travels eastwards in order to join the realm of the deata; if the deceased was a slave, it remains in the west overseeing and protecting the fate of the living.
In the latter case the house which leads the rite and becomes the central location for the final ceremony is that of the Indo' Deata, a ritual functionary in charge of Rites of the East.
On this occasion it stood in some rough grass at the edge of the houseyard of the Indo' Deata's house.
On this occasion, a ceremonial area or pangrattean was formed of seven large mats spread on the ground in between the house and barn of the Indo' Deata. A long cloth (ideally one of the antique cloths called sarita, but here just a plain white cloth) was laid out on the west side of the house, facing east, and fringed with branches of the sugar-palm planted in the ground.
Transvestite shamans, formerly among the most revered ritual specialists, were called tambolang, which Tammu and Veen (1972:602) translate as heron, though Nooy-Palm's informants clearly identified it as a black and white stork (Nooy-Palm 1986:14 and personal communication)(29) As mediators with the deata whom they served, these shamans embodied both genders, and they were strongly associated with the fertility of rice.
There the entertainment is more intensely dramatic: humans themselves summon the deata and, in trance, perform amazing feats, climbing ladders of knives, stabbing and cutting themselves, pulling sharp swords against their own stomachs, standing on sharpened bamboo stakes, and dancing on hot coals.