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11 October 2008

Liombee (187? - ?) priest.

The Toraja (the people of the upland or of the north) people of Sulawesi (previously Celebes) in Indonesia are nowadays visited my many tourists who come to see unusually shaped houses, said to be inspired by the shape of a boat, and their elaborate funerals.

In 1902, when headhunting was but recently suppressed by the Dutch authorities, there was anxiety that the ancestral spirits might eat the villagers instead.

A woman named Liombee 'began a mejapi or religious retreat to the woods, and dressed in the evening like a male warrior, at which time the ancestral spirits spoke through her. Her prophecies did not come true, but this did not lessen her influence. It would be unnecessary now to plant the fields or care for livestock, and soon all the people would go to the upper-world without dying. Cultists built a long wooden structure on stilts to be rowed into the air, after the old idea that the tadu or shaman flew to the sky on a boat rowed by other spirits.'
  • Weston Labarré. The Ghost Dance: Origins Of Religion. Garden city: Doubleday 1970. A Delta Book 1972: 306-7.

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