Some Toraja say that the roofs of their houses are shaped to represent the horns of a buffalo – the most prized animal in Toraja view and ritual. Exterior decoration such as carvings of buffalo heads, ears and hoof prints are commonly seen adorning the house of high Ranking Toraja. Buffalo tails are used as door handles, and wooden “KABONGO” or figures of buffalo heads are attached to the front of prominent houses. Buffalo trophies displayed on the exterior post supporting the extended eave are symbols of wealth and “generosity” – each trophy is a memento for a past feast given – and coofins are often built in the shape of the Buginese prahu or bots which some believe brought the first toraja to sulawesi from Burma, China, and Melanesi. Still others believe that the upsweeping ends of the house are proof that the Toraja descend from the heavens. The first Toraja reportedly slid down one end of the out – stretched roof end when he first came to the earth, and the same Toraja believe the one day theywill slide up the other side back to heaven, thereby completing the circle of life.
Traditionally , the roofs of the houses were covered with thatch, but today, corrugated zinc largely replace the natural fiber. In the case of the toraja, minangkabau, and toba batak, the use of iron and zinc has made it possible to extend upwards even more dramatically the ends of the house. The traditional low slope which is found on older houses has been replaced by an upsweep in the eaves so acute that the eaves no longer protect the house from rain as they once did . On the other land, an increasing need to reaffirm a sense of toraja identity seems to be correlated with the ever increasing lope of the roof in a more and more deliberate and marked fashion. Various aspects thet constitute toraja identity will be taken into consideration in a final section of the paper in an attempt to understand how toraja identity evolves in relation to changing architecture and culture.