At breakfast one early morning, we noticed a sculpture of what looked like a cow with horns that hung from the dining area of the hotel. At first, I was puzzled by its bizarre colours of black and white and after closer inspection found that someone had used a marker pen to doodle a moustache and eyebrows on its face.
How queer! It didn’t look like any of the bulls or cows I saw back home in Malaysia – surely not, with its pinkish white complexion and black spots.
I quickly shrugged it off as a quirky but creative expression of art. I kept seeing it in town and thought perhaps this was the mascot of the town of some sort. Kind of like the ones commonly found in some parts of Europe. (photo by ausphoto)
Still these ‘creatures’ kept appearing in my path – they were everywhere in town; on top of buildings, on billboards, on building posts and even in gift shops. My curiosity was peaking. I needed to know what these ‘creatures’ were. Were they mystical beings from local history? I immediately thought of the Centaur; the half man, half human creature seen in Narnia (the movie) and a prominent figure in Greek mythology.
All sorts of possibilities were playing in my mind…
I hadn’t noticed that the van had pulled to a stop. I gathered my things and looked up…and there it was! In its perfectly bullish form – there it was right before my eyes.
A living, breathing, grass chewing, pinkish white bull with black spots; I have never seen anything like it!
Our guide explained that the bull or Saleko (in local language) is a revered animal in Tana Toraja. To the local Torajans, the Saleko symbolizes wealth and stature. Only the noblemen or well to do Torajans owned these unique beasts, which fetch up to 120 million Rp.per animal. It is also sacrificed during elaborate Torajan funerals (usually for nobles) – up to two bulls for each funeral. As we prodded the guide further for details on the Saleko, we found out that these bulls were the products of regular bulls which were found in this part of Makassar in Sulawesi. A random mix and match of nature, not all the bulls in Toraja were fortunate enough to be blessed with such good looks!
All in all, this was only one of the many unique things that we saw in Makassar. Makassar is loaded with small things which make trips to this unique place, very, very memorable. What can I say, you have to see it to believe it…