September 15, 2008
Heaven and Earth
This narrative essay imagines the encounter of a statesman from Gowa-Tallo Kingdom with the West. He was open-minded and very enthusiastic to Renaissance ideas and scientific mode of inquiry, which came to Gowa-Tallo or Macassar (South Sulawesi, Indonesia) successively following the teaching of Islam, brought by the Sumatran, and Christian by the Portuguese. He lived in one of the most exciting periods in intellectual history: the first half of seventeenth century. The encounter truly gave him deep understanding of how the existing way of life and codes of conduct inherited from the wise native ancestors would not be sufficient and helpful to cope the incoming waves of change, the advancing huge hungry powers from Europe willing to destroy each other and to sacrifice anything for spice and other commodities. This piece is based on the academic works of Anthony Reid (1999), Denys Lombard (1990) and Sagimun MD (1992); its earlier version was published in Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, Volume 3, Number 2, 2002.
That very day, I Mangngadaccinna Daeng I Ba’le’ Sultan Mahmud, more renowned by his title of nobility, Karaeng Pattingalloang (KP) was standing upright. He was embracing the sea breeze and the ruffling waves of Macassar Strait. I imagined that next to the Prime Minister of Gowa Sultanate were standing under the sun of February 1651, his son-in-law: I Mallombassi, later to become Sultan Hasanuddin, and KP’s own son Karaeng Karungrung, later to become the next Prime Minister, deeply digesting a book on his hands. Several of tubarani (warriors) from the Tallo Palace and Fort Sombapou were also present, some were mixing in the crowd of many origins such as Macassar (Gowa), Bugis, Malacca, Java, Campo, Johor, Minang, Pattani, India, China, Portuguese, Spain, Denmark, France and England.