Bugis - History and Cultural Relations

Reconstruction of proto-South-Sulawesi suggests the lower course of the Sa'dan River as the homeland from which Bugis dispersed, moving up the Sa'dan Valley and across to the Gulf of Bone, settling in the Palopo area and then expanding to the south. Luwu', centered at the head of the Gulf of Bone, was the first great kingdom. Although Luwu' was based on control of trade, especially iron and nickel, by the fourteenth century the rise of complex chiefdoms based on wet-rice agriculture among Bugis to the south had led to its eclipse. After the sixteenth-century rise of Makassar to commercial preeminence, the Makassarese realms of Goa and Tallo achieved overlordship over most Bugis areas by the mid-seventeenth century. The Bugis realm of Bone allied with the Dutch to overthrow Makassar in 1667 and became the most powerful of the South Sulawesi kingdoms thereafter, a position maintained more or less throughout the colonial era. Refugees from Bugis realms, especially Wajo', formerly allied with Makassar, began the great diaspora of Bugis throughout the archipelago in 1670. Bugis mercenaries attained positions of power in Johor, the Riau Archipelago, Aceh, and elsewhere (including Thailand), while in later migrations Bugis opened settlements in Jambi and elsewhere in eastern Sumatra. Many Bugis nobles associated themselves with twentieth-century Indonesian independence movements. Thus they and their descendants have retained considerable prestige and power by occupying positions of influence in the bureaucracy of modern Indonesia.