In this chapter I present an alternative response to Sawerigading. Among the Central Sulawesi Lauje who live in the Kecamatan Tinombo on the Tomini Bay, Sawerigading is not a Bugis hero, but a native son. In what follows I explore his transformation from Bugis into local Lauje hero and what this transformation reveals about the extent of Bugis influence in a Central Sulawesi coastal kingdom which is at the political periphery of South Sulawesi. Most of the people in the community discuss claim to be either Lauje, the indigenous ethnic group, or an immigrant mix of Kaili, Gorontalo or Mandar. Only a few people claim to be Bugis, yet they invoke the Bugis hero-god, Sawerigading, as the key figure in a cluster of highly secret and circumscribed rites while claiming that Sawerigading and their rites about him are Lauje. This chapter asks what these rites and lore reveal about local and immigrant relations. Locals ask and debate similar questions. Their debate, however, is entangled with contemporary ethnic concerns and issues of power. It is thus nearly impossible to reconcile oral history with documentary sources. Nevertheless, the fact that the ritual and lore about Sawerigading exists in rites which are supposedly 'pure' Lauje, passed down intact from time immemorial, leads me to conclude that there is much Bugis influence in this remote kingdom. In the following, then, I will discuss three issues: (1) how and why the Lauje have co-opted Sawerigading as one of their own ancestors; (2) how this co-optation and simultaneous denial of Bugis heritage reflects the negligible degree of political influence and control Bugis people have in the region today; and (3) how the presence of Sawerigading and other aspects of Bugis culture in supposedly traditional Lauje rites reflects a much closer historical contact with, and influence of, Bugis-Makassar migration on this peripheral trading-port kingdom in Central Sulawesi than is usually acknowledged.
Copyright © 1998 Department of Anthropology, Research School of Pacific and Asia Studies, Australia National University, in association with the National Archives of Indonesia. This chapter first appeared in Living Through Histories: Culture, History and Social Life in South Sulawesi.
Please note that downloads of the book chapter are for private/personal use only.
Purchase online at Department of Anthropology, Research School of Pacific and Asia Studies, Australia National University, in association with the National Archives of Indonesia.
Nourse, Jennifer W. "Sawerigading in Strange Places: The I La Galigo Myth in Central Sulawesi." In Living through Histories: Culture, History and Social Life in South Sulawesi, edited by Kathryn Robinson and Mukhlis Paeni, 134-50. Canberra: Department of Anthropology, Research School of Pacific and Asia Studies, Australia National University, in Association with the National Archives of Indonesia, 1998.