The Bugis, who number about three million, live for the most part in the Indonesian province of South Sulawesi: they are among the most fascinating peoples of maritime Southeast Asia, and the least known. Their image in legend and modern fiction is of bold navigators, fierce pirates and cruel slave traders, but most are in fact farmers, planters and fishermen. Although they are an Islamic people, they maintain such pre-Islamic relics as transvestite pagan priests and shamans. Their colorful nobility claims descent from the ancient gods, yet owes its power to social consensus.
This book is the first to describe the history of the Bugis. It ranges from their origins 40,000 years ago to the present and provides a complete picture of contemporary Bugis society. It is based on the author's extensive field research over the last 30 years, on oral tradition, written epics and chronicles, on travellers' tales from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries, and on the latest research by Western and Asian scholars in the fields of archaeology, history, linguistics and anthropology.
The author reveals the brilliance of Bugis civilization in all its exotic and extraordinary manifestations, and its survival through Dutch colonization, Japanese invasion and the incursions of modernity. This is a work of outstanding scholarship, interest and originality.