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Sawerigading in Luwuq, Sulawesi and Beyond: Local and Regional Cultural Identity and Social Transformation in Epic Memory (bagian 1)

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, 11:14 WIB Last Updated 2023-06-13T03:12:59Z
ARUNGSEJARAH.COM - Sawerigading in Luwuq, Sulawesi and Beyond: Local and Regional Cultural Identity and Social Transformation in Epic Memory (bagian 2).,Sawerigading in Luwuq, Sulawesi and Beyond: Local and Regional Cultural Identity and Social Transformation in Epic Memory (bagian 2), Prof. Dr. Kurt Tauchmann, Department of Cultural Anthropology, University of Köln (Cologne)/Germany dalam Seminar Internasional Sawerigading di Masamba, 10 -14 Desember 2003, Das Institut für Ethnologie trauert um Prof. Dr. Kurt Tauchmann, idwar anwar, seminar internasional la galigo, sawerigading, Sawerigading in Luwuq, Sulawesi and Beyond: Local and Regional Cultural Identity and Social Transformation in Epic Memory (bagian 1), Prof. Dr. Kurt Tauchmann, Department of Cultural Anthropology, University of Köln (Cologne)/Germany dalam Seminar Internasional Sawerigading di Masamba, 10 -14 Desember 2003, Das Institut für Ethnologie trauert um Prof. Dr. Kurt Tauchmann, idwar anwar, seminar internasional la galigo, sawerigading
Prof. Dr. Kurt Tauchmann

ARUNGSEJARAH.COM - Sawerigading in Luwuq, Sulawesi and Beyond: Local and Regional Cultural Identity and Social Transformation in Epic Memory (bagian 1).


Sawerigading can be considered as a protagonist for cosmic order in space and through time, connected to the foundation of civilisation and culture as well as Southeast Asian identity in general. Through time he appears as a marine wanderer between the present South of China, Southeast Asia, Southern India, Ceylon and the Maldives, the Arab Peninsula, Madagascar and Africa and even leaving traces in the western Hemisphere of the Greek-Roman world.

In different local settings of Sulawesi, as in the whole Austronesian-Malaic context, Sawerigading, is remembered in Uya-Uya epic recitations, which in their intonation are carried by the movement of the sea waves. Manifold oral traditions in different local settings and the common epic cannon La Galigo shape the land- and seascape according to his wanderings. While Sawerigading seems to be the descendent of a mythical dragon ( Naga ) associated with the milky way in the beginning [1], he transforms gradually into a Shiva-Buddha ( Barata, Rama, Same ) [2] identity and converts into the unique world view of Patuntung, finally including invented Islamic traditions too. This world view in the local environment of Sulawesi dominates the cultural memory of all ethnic groups up to the present. It establishes the Bugis royal elite of  “ white blood “ and is visible in a piece of Naga skin as part of the royal insignia of Goa dynasties.

Sawerigading appears as the leader of a class of warriors called Manuqo’s [3] and seems to be the forebear of Vak’s,  Aru’s / Halu’s, Rake / Rakai / Laki [4] and their Monic fellows called Chijs / Chin’s and Jao’s spread through the Malaic world along the maritime silk road and its incursions into the area of the spice, sandalwood and ivory trade. They are called brethren of the Chinese [5] but have an identity which is connected to the polity called Cina and later Pamana in the Wajo - Bugis area of Sulawesi. They are still visible through Spanish reports in the 16th century as the former masters of the spice trade between Maluku, Malabar, Coromandel and Ceylon through a network along maritime routes to Aden and from there to Alexandria, Damascus, Constantine as the Greek, Roman and Byzantine centres and into the western Hemisphere. According to the Periplus of the Eritrean Seas and the early Roman historian Pliny they are mentioned in connection with the Meru – Archipelago and a polity called Kaboschiyya accompanied by a toponym Ongkor as well as the etymon Buja on the African coast of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. In the early 14th century the Arab traveller Ibn Batuta mentions the toponyms Béjaya on the coast and Bougie in the interior of present Algeria which still exist and show how far Vijaya myth and Bugi identity diffused [6]. Ibn Battuta also went to a district near the river Niger in present Mali / West Africa called Iwalatan [7] where he wonders about the “ strange ” customs of its people.  

In the early history of Sulawesi, maybe during the 6th or 7th century, this maritime elite is represented by the hero Samerlak [8], merging the tradition with the Malaic context [9], where he searches for a wife. In ethnic terms this hero possibly conforms with the lakina [10] functionary  in Buton and the elite of Aru’s on the east coast of Sulawesi and the early polity of Luwuq. In the dynastic period within South Sulawesi it transforms into the royal identity of Arung Palaka and the title of Andi [11] for the class of a Bugis elite of royal offspring, while the spiritual leader of Same communities carries the title Lolo [12] establishing genealogical continuity through which title and function of their spiritual leader after his death moves to a male of his patrilineage ( keturunan Lolo ).

Sawerigading is also known in Sulawesi and elsewhere under the title of Rai / Lai [13] which qualifies him as “ lord of  the world ” giving him, in a metaphorical way, a cosmic identity and at the same time associates him with economic and social  transformation through the invention of vertical stratification in Sulawesi society [14]. Below that protagonist of a maritime elite the greater part of the society within Hindu-Buddha context belonged to the colour category “ black “ ( khalu ) and included the classes of shudra ( traders and specialist craftsmen ) and vaisya [15] ( peasant farmers ) as locals bound through labour bondage to their masters and anatomically associated with the body as against the legs.

Almost all oral traditions in different parts of East Indonesia denote the historical prevalence of early civilisations in the mountainous interior of certain islands by the term Pota bangun [16]. They prospered through communal work in agriculture and had females as sacral rulers of dragon descent secluded from the public in a wooden village temple and announcing their will through a male speaker. When leaving the ritual centre they had to be carried. This is confirmed by oral traditions for Halmahera Island, in the neighbourhood of Jailolo, the Banggay-Archipelago ( on Peling Island ), another Jailolo in the southern part of Selayar Island, now extinct, which give evidence for such early agricultural civilisations within Hindu-Buddha context for different areas of Sulawesi. While the excavated earliest bronze drum (nekara) on  Selayar Island has been dated back to around 2000 years and can be traced to the Dongson context of present Vietnam it seems to have been diffused with an elite of dragon descent through the Chamic polities of Lin-yi, Fu-nan and Cham-pa and the early polities of Ternate, Motir ( Bajan ), Gapi (Banggay) and Buton / Beten [17]. The reference to Beten appears also a little northwards in the hills of East Sulawesi as Betelemme [18] and several Bete-Bete [19]. Bété is also reported as the former homeland of an immigrant elite which were called Merina in Madagacar in the 16th century.

The early agricultural civilisations concentrated in the mountainous interior are followed by the later period of Bonto bangun and the emergence the of coastal settlements under male leadership which were called according to their insignia kimalaha / kimaraha, “ the great conch ” [20].Gender-oriented segments of maritime communities were reported as existing until the end of the 20th century on Minikoy Island in the Maledives. They had a maritime, male section with several factions ( attiri ) on the coast and a female, agricultural section with several factions ( varangi ) in the interior. Those varangi are identical with the barangay which characterise ocean going tramp-communities as colonists in the Philippines and elsewhere. During the early Malaic period in Indonesia many such polities ( kerajaan pesisir ) appear on the coasts of the Indonesian Archipelago. During the early Islamic period the raja was called kolano by locals and integrated different communities as separate entities with their own hadat. The kimalaha’s transformed to dependent leaders of the marine section as against the sangaili or  sangaji as dependent leaders of agricultural factions.

Sawerigading seems to have a special relation to Balantaq on the east coast of Sulawesi, paying many visits to it and marrying his son Galigo to a female ruler in that place. The female ruler seems to be related to him, which means that she also is of dragon descent. So it is reasonable to suggest that at least one if not the oldest locality of Luwuq polity was around the East coast of Indonesia, later on drifting westwards to Bone Bay. Unfortunately most excavations have been concentrated around the interior behind Telok Bone and until now have harvested no evidence for a centre of civilisation. In this connection one also has to keep in mind that early polities like the legendary Luwuq were not centralised political entities but, as we know from comparable early Indochina, had leaders in the capacity of great men who were able to prosper from regional trade and plunder, and through redistribution could attract a growing number of vassals to increase their power. When one takes the prosperity through trade, shown by the earliest foreign ceramics of fine quality, dated to the 12th century onwards into consideration the area of Luwuq-Banggay has something to its advantage since southern Sung and Yuan dynasties. Chinese chronicles mention Hsia-Laiwu as a production area for tortoiseshells, maybe situated around mount Klabat of Northeast Sulawesi besides other possible locations. In Spanish reports this area appears under Baganga as a trading spot for this commodity mentioning Bajao as local traders. Since the central part of the East coast was known to the Dutch until the end of the 19th century as Laiwu coast [21] the suggested emporium could have been located further South in the area of early Luwuq.

At the end of Sawerigading’s wanderings in Sulawesi, Luwuq locality drifts to the hinterland at the northern end of Bone Bay. Here he arrives together with his companions the Tomene [22] and builds a big ship in a place called Walenrangge [23]. Felling a big tree for this purpose which had plenty of eggs on its branches, they fell into the sea. This legend creates Bayo [24] identity and can be understood as a mystic expression for the dragon descent of the founder of Goa kingdom. Since the branches of trees are considered to be dragon heads this legend metaphorically explains the marine dispersion of people with dragon descent over the extent surface of the Indian ocean. The later legends among the Bajo [25] who try to explain their dispersion are connected to friction between former favourites with different rulers. At the northern edge of Bone Bay oral traditions persist that during that time a previous polity at this place disappeared from the map and Sawerigading was established as “Opu naWaro “ the lord of Waro ” called also “Opu topali  “ the lord of restless searching “ [26].

At this point the legend demonstrates Sawerigading’s superiority through the establishment of a maritime polity in a former agricultural entity most probably controlled by a female Naga leader. It also connects him to a bigger type of ocean going watercraft made for maritime trade to far destinations. Sawerigading like his father Lettuq is closely associated with boat and ship building. Those specialist craftsmen are present under their leaders, juru barata, within the royal warge dalem on Javanese copperplates from the ninth into the tenth century. During this time the padewakang type ship makes its entrance into the stone engravings of Borobudur temple [27]. Until the present royal chronicles of Selayar start with Guru Barata and barata is used as term for the outrigger of lepa-lepa / lepe-lepe boats in the settlement Kalepe / Selayar, while gading within boat construction in Mandar area points to the main plank for the stability [28] of the body and contains a hint to the etymology of the legendary name of Sawerigading. In this connection traces of immigrant specialists for watercraft  lead to Tanah Beru and Bira and the famous ship builders under the ethnic marker Konjo.

Upon his arrival on the coasts of Sulawesi Sawerigading finds the To Marégé [29] dark skinned and hairy, blocking his way inland. They seem to represent an indigenous coastal population, also known as Masikoro [30], that he fights against. He also roams around among them secretly hiding his body under an animal skin so that they can not recognise him as a stranger. Oral tradition in the Kendari area even talks about an invasion of these Masikoro from the Australian coast which targeted Bokori Island near Kendari, which is also mentioned  later as a meeting place of Bajo’s.

While legend establishes a ruler without royal status at the earliest stage in the western and southern coastal areas known as Wak Sobak, Katanka [31] followed by a royal Bayo [32] this points to a stronghold of marine immigrants at the Southwest coast of Sulawesi. The power of early polities in Sulawesi finally rests on the amalgamation between a male, marine elite and  female, sedentary rulers in the interior. This marriage alliances create a dual system within the indigenous societies whereby their elite as a moiety establishes a continuous exchange of marriage partners and along that line merged with the elite of marine immigrants into a new identity. The offspring of those liaisons are, however, controlled by their matrilineal relatives who legalise their power over local people and resources by consent.

Sawerigading, like many of his fellow Manuqo’s [33] as a class of maritime warriors, initiates marriage alliances with female rulers of the interior on different shorelines of Sulawesi and the Malaic world between Maluku, Sumatra, and the Malay Peninsula. Those contacts between male strangers and female locals, and their alliance negotiations, are framed into dramatic fights between the cocks of the two parties accompanied by bidding for the outcome and fixing prices to be paid by the party of the loosing cock. While the female ruler bids domestic utensils or a water buffalo, Sawerigading usually bids his boat and looses it because the cock, sometimes a hen, of the female ruler always wins. Through the term Boki [34] for female rulers among agricultural vanua communities Bugis identity emerges in the Malaic context of Sulawesi and the whole Southeast Asia up to Madagascar and East Africa, where this identity had spread through marine migrations and associated tramp colonisation.

Among the followers of Sawerigading the dog called Buri ( “ black ” ) gets exceptional attention and is the companion throughout his restless search for land. His barking causes the sea to retreat and allows the cultivation of the recovered land. Many coastal settlements of the Same population in the eastern part of the Indonesian Archipelago are called Wuring [35]. It is also noteworthy that up to now dogs are favourite companions among Same people who treat them on a par with their children and let them follow on the boats whenever going to the sea.

From the identity Lai / Rai the title of Karae / Karaeng was derived to denote the former marine elite who appear on the South coast of Sulawesi in a Shiva-Buddha context connected with male linga cult towards female voni symbols [36]. Locally this cult is remembered as Karaeng loe [37]. Its origin can be traced from Bantayan / Luwuq-Banggay to the area around Bantayan / Bantaeng, which also is known as Torateia [38] attesting the highest status for this area and its people on the southern coast of the present province Sulawesi Selatan.

In the kingdom of Goa the traditions of drifting Luwuq identity mingle into a royal dynasty. Karaeng’s were installed as knights who were granted control over  people of certain districts, and in return had to act as loyal vassals of the king. From among this class was chosen the king of Goa. The number of these royal vassals increased through the expansion of the kingdom towards the North and East of Sulawesi. Besides the title Karaeng given to the royal elite of Goa, the lesser title Daeng [39] defines a junior elite of minor status who appear to have been evolved among favoured followers of Sawerigading from the shudra [40] class of traders and other specialists, including many strangers of foreign origin. Under the royal  nobility they all together grouped under the category of To Decéng as ( free ) commoners. The elite and the commoners were symbolised by the bones as against the flesh or the wind as  against the leaves. The marine faction among the commoners can be compared within a Malaic context to the Desin dola of the Riau-Archipelago affiliated in Malay sultanates and the ethnic marker Sadulang [41] as the dependent marine subjects of Goa who were located in the area around the Kangean Archipelago up to Raas island to the East of  Madura Island.

Given all this, one wonders about the parallels between Sawerigadings and Sindbads wanderings in literal discourse along the coasts of the Indian ocean. Sindbad’s adventures appear in writing on the Arab Peninsula during the time of Harun al-Rashid in the 8th century. That is also the time legends establish Bajao ( Bajan ) identity as maritime immigrants for Maluku, the southern Philippines, and the North, East, and West coast of Sulawesi Islands. A certain Areo ( Aro / Aru ), as the early ruler of Ternate, transforms through an invented Arab reinterpretation of local history into Harun ( al-Rashid ) as the first Sultan of Ternate in the 16th century. This offers some hints on the transfomation of identity from Sawerigading to Sindbad in Arab discourse, but certainly needs more research.

In summary it becomes clear that Sawerigading’s contacts, adventures, amour like liaisons and marriage alliances on different shores establish social space and land- and seascape at a mental map for Sulawesi Islands and beyond, which can not be taken as lasting local realities in topographical terms. Like in other regions around the Indian ocean they depict the origins of some of the different ethnic groups of the present time, and the formation of a complex and stratified society in Sulawesi Selatan. Through epic memory Sama / Same, Bayo, Mandar, Bare ( Toraja ) on the one side as against Majene, Tu-ri-jene, Tomene, Baje ( Waywaje ), Bajo, Wajo, Buton as well as Bugis identity on the other side take shapes, and provides information about political processes called ethnizisation. Sawerigading’s wanderings are also interconnected with the emergence of the first decentralised and topographically drifting polity on Sulawesi Islands, known as Luwuq, and later identify the royal elite of Goa / Makassar [42].

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