SOUTH SULAWESI

South Sulawesi province comprises the narrow southwestern peninsula of this orchid-shaped island, which is mainly mountainous. The seafaring Bugis dominant the southern tip, whereas the northern part of South Sulawesi is inhabited by the Toraja whose unique culture rivals that of the Balinese. Famed for their seafaring heritage and Phinisi schooners for centuries, the Bugis possess to the present day one of the last sailing fleets in the world.

Ujung Pandang, was formerly Makassar, well known for its Makasar oil from which the English word "antimacassar" evolved for small covers to protect upholstery. The fortifications, which overlook the harbor, were originally built in 1545. Gowa's most famous king is considered a national hero, named Sultan Hasanuddin, the 16th king of Gowa who waged a long and fierce war against the colonial forces.


The Tomanurung stone with the inscriptions can still be seen in a plot neighboring the royal graves, near Sungguminasa, formerly the seat of the Gowa kings. The Bugis kingdom of Bone, Wajo and Soppeng and the Makassarase kingdom of Gowa emerged in 13th century. Though interrelated through marriage, Bone and Gowa have for centuries battled against each other. The southern beach is protected by small archipelagoes and has excellent facilities for water sports. These islands have been developed for holiday resorts. Further north, through rugged country is Tana Toraja, often referred to as the "Land of the Heavenly Kings".


An ethnic group who believes that their forefathers descended from heaven onto a mountain some twenty generations ago, the Torajas have a unique culture based on animistic beliefs. Known for their grand burial ceremonies on cliffs or hanging graves, they practice an ancestral cult even today where death and afterlife ceremonies are great feasts when buffaloes are sacrificed in the final death ceremony, after which the deceased's remains are placed in a coffin and interred in caves hollowed out in high cliffs. Lifelike statues, looking out from a “balcony”, guard the mouth of the cave. As death has such an "important meaning" when the souls are released, burials are elaborate and follow feasting days. Rock graves are also a form of burial. A strict hierarchy is followed in the villages.


“Tongkonan” (family houses) are built on stilts with roofs on each end rising like the prows of a ship, representing the cosmos. The mountains offer a fantastic panorama of natural beauty, including the long drive from Ujung Pandang to Tana Toraja. South Sulawesi is also known for its silk industry and silverwork whereas its economy is based on agriculture. Ujung Pandang is easily accessible by air. There are several daily flights from Jakarta and also daily services from Bali, Surabaya and Manado.

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