Pelabuhan Perahu Makassar, sekitar 1920; foto koleksi KITLV 32691
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Foto oleh G. Ingleton, 1932

... literally is the name of a 'rig', the type of sails and masts used on a sailing vessel.  A pinisi sets seven to eight sails on two masts, arranged in a way akin to what in international sailing terminology is called a gaff- (or, less commonly, schooner-) ketch: 'Schooner' because all its sails are 'fore-and-aft' sails lined up along the centreline of the hull on two masts, with the two biggest sails being trapezoid and tied to 'gaffs', those wooden beams on the top of the sails; 'ketch', because the mast in the ship's aft is not as tall as the one in the bows.
The word 'pinisi', thus, is just the name of a type of sails, and has nothing to do with the hull of a vessel that uses that type of rigging.

Vuuren, L. Van 1917. 'De Prauwvaart van Celebes'. Koloniale Studien, 1,107-116; 2, 329-339; hlm. 108.

The earliest mention of the term 'pinisi' that clearly refers to a type of sailing vessel from Sulawesi is found in an article published in 1917 in the Dutch periodical Coloniale Studiën: "... a small schooner rigged in European manner."  Indeed, records of the use of European-type fore-and-aft rigs on indigenous ships of the Malay Archipelago only begin in the first half of the 19th century; and only in the early 20th century significant numbers of boats from Sulawesi were equipped with such sails.

The text from 1917 also mentions various other types of ships, descriptions and representations of which are found in the records of the colonial administration and foreign explorers, on historical maps produced in Europe or on Indonesian temples and in manuscripts.  Clearly, seafaring and boatbuilding for thousands of years were an integral part of Indonesian society, and the pinisi-rig is but one application of the technical knowledge accumulated through such traditions.  It is the proficiency of Sulawesi's shipwrights and mariners in employing and actualizing this wealth of knowledge (i.e., not the pinisi-rig ...) that as of 2017 became Intangible World Heritage.

At the example of the region of Tana Beru - Bira - Ara, the home of Sulawesi's most famous shipwrights and sailors, this page aspires to illustrate the maritime traditions of the Indonesian Archipelago, and the challenges and obstacles they presently face – and introduce a concrete and integrated program aimed at recording, preserving and developing this heritage.
This site is still under construction, and for the time being, its Indonesian version is our main focus.  You can access an overview page here, and then use Google (or any other online translator ...) to at least get a glimpse of what it is about!

You would like to know more?  Contact Us!