The Toraja live in the interior of the island of Celebes, where they remained quite isolated until the appearance of Dutch missionaries around the turn of the century. Their beliefs were animistic with traces of Hinduism. Jackets like these, originally made of painted barkcloth and then of appliquéd cotton as in this example, were no longer made after the first decades of the century. Designs were more densely applied to the back of the jacket than to the front. They are thought to be conventionalized representations of buffalo heads, appearing either singly or in confronting pairs. The curving motifs derive from the buffalo’s horns and ears, and the triangular color comes from its forehead blaze. Buffaloes were signs of status.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Costumes of Asian Peoples: Recent Acquisitions From The Costume Institute," June 7, 1988–September 11, 1988.