North Sulawesi Trip : Megalithicum Heritage

SULAWESI is a place in the world that still keeps the cultural greatness of megalithic ( huge stone age ) who have lived 1500 years ago . Besides Toraja in South Sulawesi, there are also Minahasa in North Sulawesi . One of the ancient cultural heritage is waruga  in Sawangan village. We managed to visit this place during our trip to North Sulawesi  23-26 June 2010.This cemetery is located in the village of Sawangan , Airmadidi District , North Minahasa regency .  Waruga is an ancient cemetry or tomb of the old time Minahasa people. The form of this tomb was similar to a traditional house of Minahasa form. It is said that this is a legacy of Megalithic period till about the mid – 19th century. Waruga, to be more specific, are coffins made of stone and works well as a cemetery.

During our visit, we were welcome and accompanied by Anton the guard of the waruga. “They were buried with the position like in the womb . So like a squat . The man hands intertwined , while for the women’s hands were clenched , “explained Anton . Then the plate is also included in the tomb. For the male one plate at the bottom it occupies , while women two plates , for the occupied as well as a hood . “You see more women by nature , they used to take her jewelry , too, “adds Anton . Interestingly enough, we still questioning how the people from 1200 years ago knew exactly the  position of the baby in the womb ?

Figure 1 The waruga :the house shape stone served as a coffin or cemetery of ancient Minahasa tribe.

Waruga : the house shape stone served as a cemetery of ancient Minahasa tribe

In Sawangan , the waruga complex area is 1866 square meters. There are 144 waruga there. Actually , waruga placed in the yard of the house . However, in 1817, the government collected the waruga’s in to  one complex . The waruga was most recently created in 1947.

This is not an ordinary coffin. Waruga consists of two parts, namely body and lid . Each part was made from a piece of stone ( monolith ) are carved to resemble a cube , octagonal , or round .The ancient Minahasa people who died was inserted into the cavity of the rectangular shape of stone of a waruga, the position of the squat or knee position against the chin . In view of the Minahasa people , humans started living in a squat position on the mother’s womb , so when they dead they must be in a squatting position as well.

We were in the waruga complex of Sawangan village

Inside the waruga it was often found human bones mixed with other materials , like ceramics of China , gold jewelry , or metal tools and beads . Goods that are favored during life . It was put together with the dead body  with the intention of supplies for the next life .

In the lid of waruga, various ornament or relief was carved . It shows various  relief  to image positions such as human , animals , natural objects , plants , sun, tumpal , a string of jewels , the tassel , decorative geometric and others . The relief carved on the top or lid of waruga relates to the profession of the people who were buried there. Some are describing the process of human birth on four sides .  Meaning, she was a midwife or peoplel who help womaen giving a birth. There are also pictures of buffalo , and a spear at the bottom. This means that this was a  grave of a hunter . Then , cupola – crowned cupola with the human form , meaning that a leader was buried there.

The pictures or relief carve on the lid of the waruga explain the profession and social status of the family head who was buried inside the waruga.
Then , was it all people buried in waruga originally from Minahasa? Apparently not. Anton showed waruga with motifs typical cupola , which have historical significance . On the back of the complex there are many graves Waruga those foreigner of hundreds of years ago . There are of Mongollian , marked with distinctive symbols snake Mongols. Then the tomb of the Japanese long before the Japanese colonial period in Indonesia before World War II . Then there were more Portuguese , which is marked by the figure of the Portuguese army with the typical army helmet .

Anton the guide explain us about the Waruga at Sawangan.

It was interesting when we asked , how many people needed to lift these stones – which according to my estimates need 3-4 people to move from the location of the mountain where the rocks . ” Ah , a stone tomb was brought by one person in one  hand , “said Anton , pointing to the reliefs along the entrance path to the complex. ” Our people here  in the past time was so big and very strong ” he added. It was true ,  when I looked into relief. There  is a picture of the people who brought the stone tomb with only one hand .

A sign board in the entrance gate requested us to appreciate and protect the nation heritage.

Actually , Waruga originally was a means to a family funeral , which is placed in the yard or under the house . But did not everyone have a waruga in North Minahasa . Only people with high social status possessed it. There are not much . According to records, in the entire northern part of the Minahasa region , including the municipality of Manado , there are only about 2,000 waruga scattered in several places . The largest was in Sawangan , there are 142 pieces , which was then concentrated .

The waruga museum where we can see the relicsInside the museum are also stored in Sawangan Waruga relics people who are buried there. Among them there are many different kinds of rings , bracelets , necklaces , Chinese ceramics from the Ming and Ching , human bones and so forth . Why are there in the museum ?In the early 20th century , the tradition of burying the corpse in this waruga was discontinued because of the outbreaks of cholera emerged that allegedly came from a decomposing corpse in waruga . Belongings of people who were buried were collected.

The relic of the people belonging who buried in the waruga was stored in the cupboard of the museum.
We asked if there any relationship between Sawangan in Depok West Java with the village in here. According to Anton , it turns out , there are residents from the Minahasa in the past Sawangan who later moved to West Java , bought land and opened a farm in the area now in Depok , West Java


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