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Phinisi Ship, The Icon of Bugis Tribe


Mohammad Shihab


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Tanah Lemo village is the central of Phinisi ship production in Indonesia. It has been acknowledged by foreign countries in Europe and Africa. Located in Bonto Bahari, Bulukumba, South Sulawesi, the village can be reached by 5 hours driving from Makassar, the capital of South Sulawesi province.

Building Phinisi is in progress (Antarafoto)

Progress of building Phinisi in Bulukumba (Antarafoto).

Wikipedia says that the Phinisi of Bulukumba is a traditional Indonesian two-masted sailing ship. It is built for some purposes. The ship can be used to carry passengers and cargo. Furthermore, there is also a Phinisi used as a cruise ship to sail around Komodo Island or Raja Ampat.

The workers is finishing the deck (Antarafoto).

The workers is finishing the deck (Antarafoto).

The tradition of building Phinisi has been inherited from generation to generation. Can you believe it: No blueprint is required to build the vessel? The ship-builder uses intuition and inheritance to set the high-accurate balance so that the ship can float on the water.

Some workers are finishing the Phinisi (Antarafoto).

Some workers are finishing the Phinisi (Antarafoto).

Usually, Phinisi is built by 5-10 builders with clear job organization, such as cutting woods, screw-driving, wood-smoothening, and installment. Then, the vessel will be ready within 1 year. The ship-building cost ranges from 300 millions up to 1 billion rupiahs, depending on the size and its purpose.

The Phinisi Ship (Antarafoto).

The Phinisi Ship (Antarafoto).

Phinisi has become the icon of Bugis tribes. The tribe is very popular as a strong sailor and a master in building a ship. The epic book of ‘La Galigo‘ wrote that Bugis sailors had been able to build a ship to travel around China and Madagascar since the 15th century.

This story and all photos are credited to Antarafoto.

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