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Early history
Kingdoms of the south

'May my mouth be opened wide, may my tongue taken away, may my head being split open when I harass. Now, he that is named Simpurusia descends to the world and she that is named Patiakala also appeared from the foaming waves; she married Simpurusia, i can't complain...'

This is the start of the cronic of Luwu', the oldest and for centuries the most powerfull kingdom on Sulawesi. The name Simpurusia comes from the Sanscrite sinhapurusa, meaning 'lion man'; the name of his wife - Sanscrite as well - means 'she that cought her gentlemen in the net'. But the influence of India was small: in contrary to Jawa and Bali, Sulawesi doesn't have big temples with inscriptions, and Indian stories like Ramayana or Mahabharata are totally unknown there.
Simpurusia and Patiajala are probably created persons, far memories of earlier rulers. They may go back as far as the first 1,000 years B.C., because the origin of Luwu' is kind of vague. Most historics situate it's first capital along Sungai Cerekang, about halfway between Wotu and the small village Usu. At this place, the gods descended on earth to form the first kingdom in South-Sulawesi. The son of the secon ruler, Sawerigading, visited places that are named: Taranate (Ternate on Maluku), Gima (Bima on Sumbawa) Jawa Rilau and Jawa Ritengga (East- and Central-Jawa). After many adventures he married W Cudai, a princes from Cina, a prehistoric kingdom which has been discovered not too long ago near the mouth of Sungai Cenrana, much more south in the province. If we accept the location of Luwu' between Wotu and Usu, then the destroyed capital of Ware is waiting to be discovered somewhere along Sungai Cerenkang.


The early history of Sulawesi is in fact that of South-Sulawesi. There are no other cronics known which date back until the pre-islamic time from the other three provinces. The Buginese, Makassarese and the Mandarese cronics form the only real sources about the period before the arrival of the Dutch traders in the early 17th century. From these cronics we learn that Luwu' dominated the entire southern and eastern coast, as well as the western coast as far as Makassar in the 15th century. It's economy was based on trade. Precious raising and alluvial gold - maybe slaves as well - were transported through the pass between Rantepao and Palopo (a much more likely location of the capital of Luwu'). In trade they received fish, salt and weapons. Niccle and iron ore were extracted from the mines near Malili and were exported to Jawa, where you can still find a kind of niccle (pamor), which is still named Luwu.
The origin of the South-Sulawesi kingdoms can be taken back until the 13th, 14th century. This is the outer limit of written sources, since the Buginese-Makassarese writing (probably based on the South-Sumateran writing) was developped around the year 1400. Recent archeological research near Sopeng has brought up a big kingdom, which already controlled the biggest part of the Walanae valley in 1200. The capital of this kingdom, named Westsopeng, was located on top of a hill, seven kilometers north of Watansopeng. This is the location where over 2000 pieces of broken Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai pottery were found. A part of these date back to the 12th or 13th century. On the other side of the hill are the graves of rulers from the 15th or 16th century. Some still contain the blue with white Ming-jars, in which their cremated remains are kept.

Prefectures and conflicts

How was Sulawesi before the arrival of the Europeans in the 16th and 17th century? The southern peninsula was separated in several big kingdoms. These were constructed of several prefectures, 28 in the case of Sopeng, loosely united around a central 'king'. The king only directly rules his own area; the other territories were ruled by his gentlemen.
The islam only became an official religion in the 17th century. People from Sulawesi maybe maintained worshipping the sun and moon, because the first islamic graves were oriented east-west, and not north-south, like it is a habit in islam. The ruler, which was seen as the source of all fertility, maintained extensive rytes, helped by his bissu priests, which a part of the is said to be male.
The inheritable ruling power was in the hands of a very small group of people. It is assumed that this group of people were descendants of the tomanurung, founders which descended from heaven to found kingdoms. The purity of descendance was heavily guarded; exact registers of royal families and marriages were kept. A marriage of a woman with a man with a lower status was forbidden by death.

The first historic person about who we have some real information is a queen of openg, which ruled around 1400. She was a powerfull monarch, and her government is branded by that of wealth and good harvests. She lead the extension of the cultivation of wet ricefields along the southern side of Danau Tempe, where colonists came in big numbers.
In the 15th century there was an important movement from trade to the cultivation of wet ricefields as the base of the political power. Several rulers are raid to be interested in the cultivation of wet ricefields. Luwu', which had little good soil for agriculture, was challenged by Bone, situated on a big fertile plain. In the 16th century the armies of both kingdoms got to war three times. At the third time Luwu' was defeated.

The growth of Gowa

The big rival of Bone was Gowa, the most wealthy and powerfull kingdom of 17th century Sulawesi. In the early 16th century is was one of the small tribal areas on the southern plain, but its star soon ascended. Due to several wars and allied, Gowa (allied with the neighboring Tallo) had gained power over the biggest part of the western and southern coasts of the peninsula. A coup in 1594 brought Karaeng Matoaya, an ambitious and skilled prince from Tallo, to power. Around 1605 he converted to islam, and he started to islamise the important Buginese kingdoms, with exception of Luwu', which had accepted islam in 1603. In this way Gowa could install itself as the superior power on the peninsula.

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