Discovered in 1908, the Bada Valley megaliths, hidden in Central Sulawesi, are statues scattered all over an area next to Lore Lindu National Park. Those megalithic statues, almost unknown and isolated from the rest of the world, are made in different shapes and sizes, some are standing, others are lying on the ground, which adds to the mystery around them.
Located 15km South of Lore Lindu National Park, Bada Valley and its statues are crossed by Sungai Lariang, the river watering countless rice fields and about a dozen villages in the area. Because of their remoteness, only a few archeologists and determined travelers dare the adventure every year. Because of its mountainous terrain and the quasi-absence of roads, the area, as beautiful and savage as it might be, is a true puzzle for those who wish to venture there.
Bada Valley is made of muddy road tracks where only 4WD can access before leaving the transportation method to motorbikes or even trekking. The megalithic research is easy when statues are located near the tracks, but in other cases, one shouldn’t be scared to dirty their shoes and pants!
Bada Valley, Easter Island & Göbekli Tepe
Surprisingly, or not, the Bada Valley megaliths are not only resembling Easter Island’s Moai (and Göbekli Tepe, Turkey ones, especially how the hands are positioned at the bottom of statues), but are also completely isolated from the rest of the world. Indonesians from outside of the area barely know about the statues. Moreover, it will take you, take us (we will soon open to the public our first expedition there), 5 to 6h of road at 25km/h (15mph) from the closest working domestic airport.
Whether archeologists or locals, no one has yet been able to date those statues. They obviously come from a megalithic culture just as we can find all over the world at a time we still can’t accurately date. Just this once, local populations transmitting indigenous wisdom and history from generation to generation state that the statues have always been there. This is invalidating archeologists’ version dating the site around 1300AD. Uncertain dating, added to local indigenous statements and similarity with other sites across the world, could give more accurate dates of 1000BC all the way to 10.000BC, or even more…
From Palindo to Kalamba and Dongson
The genders of statues are clearly identified. Among the most famous, we can find the biggest, male, called “Palindo” , “the Entertainer” in Indonesian. It is 4 meter high. Follows “Langke Bulawa”, “Golden Bracelet”, depiction of a 180cm sad woman. One of the crowd favorites is called Oba, small monkey, located right in the middle of a rice field. But we are not sure if it is supposed to be a monkey or a small kid. All statues are not centered around the same spot. More than a dozen others are located in the area in the Besoa Valley and Napu Valley
Legend has it that the Palindo statue was placed so he would face the ancient palace of the king. Given its name, some say that he was positioned like this to make sure he could entertain the king whenever it was needed. Sort of King Jester. Its bent aspect like the Tower of Pisa is said to come from the furious fights which raged between local tribes,disturbing its serinity.
The Bada Valley statues are not the only megalithic feats of the area. There are also the Kalamba, circular stone tanks made of one solid block. They are supposed to be ancient bathtubs used by kings. The usual explanation for something we can’t explain: religion or great effort aimed at the comfort of egotistical leaders. We can find them in various places in Bada Valley and are also different in shapes and sizes. Some are simple large tanks with a big center hole. Others are separated in half at the center, supposedly to “create one bathing zone for the mom and one for the baby”…Either way, the Kalamba are quite interesting as they remind us of the bronze drums of Vietnam called Dongson.
Although the remoteness of the area is slowing down the economic growth via exportations, the climate sustains several rice harvests every year as well as cropping of clove, coffee and cacao. The surplus can therefore be sold in nearby villages like Poso or Tentena allowing local population to live quite comfortably given the area.
Once we will have seen all that ourselves, we will post an in-depth article about our field research expedition.