September 15, 2008

Karaeng Pattingalloang’s

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.

Karaeng Pattingalloang. From Joan Blaeu "Grooten Atlas"

That very day, I Mangngadaccinna Daeng I Ba’le’ Sultan Mahmud, more renowned by his title of nobility, Karaeng Pattingalloang (KP)[1] 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,[2] 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)[3], Bugis, Malacca, Java, Campo, Johor, Minang, Pattani, India, China, Portuguese, Spain, Denmark, France and England.

At the time, in the mid of 17th century, Macassar was the busiest and the most cosmopolitan port among all The Eastern Lands Under the Winds. Surrounded by ports built and expanded around a hundred years earlier by the King of Gowa IX Karaeng Tumapa’risi’ Kallona (r.1511-1548), Sombapou — the capital of Gowa — became a multi-racial city reaching her highest diversity in her 600 years of history.

When Malacca fell under the Portuguese cannons in 1511 some Malay warriors, refusing to admit defeat, migrated in flocks to Siang (Pangkajene Islands, close to Macassar region). They later moved to Sombapou upon receiving a written protection guarantee from the King of Gowa X Karaeng Tunipalangga (r. 1548-1566). This guarantee to let any kind of people establishing communities in Sombaopu and passing freely through Nusantara,[4] a form of extraterritorial law, was the first pre-European assurance in Nusantara.

This trade haven turned into an escape haven, this time by the Portuguese after Malacca fell to the Dutch in 1641. Since then Macassar became Portuguese main transit in Nusantara. Around 3000 Portuguese’ lived in the center of the city, with four Christian Churches to serve. Earlier in 1613 Great Britain had built a factory, to be followed by Denmark five years later. The Chinese and Spanish merchants, still preserving their customs and memory of their place of origins, developed their business networks and lived in the city since 1619 and 1615 respectively.

The only nationality rarely seen passing in Sombapou around 1651 was Dutch, even though long time ago they were already let to build factories and trade offices. It was a result of the cold war started in the dawn of 17th century between Macassar and Dutch, two perpetual enemies in the eastern ocean of Nusantara. Dutch’s VOC[5] made every possible effort to rule the whole spices seaway and to uphold monopoly mandated by the Parliament (Staten Generaal) of The Republic of Netherlands. And Macassar, a remarkable example of hospitality to all in contrast with the intolerance with which Europeans treated each other in Asian waters, strictly defending the sacred words mare liberum declared by the King of Gowa XIV Sultan Alauddin in 1615: God created earth and sea. Land was distributed among human yet ocean was given to all. That a journey by  the sea is forbidden for certain race is unheard of.

Cold War and Rarities

Until that year of 1651, open war had not exploded between those two maritime powers. Conflict indeed had occurred for some times with bloodshed in several occasions. Early in 1615, some of Gowa’s high officials were kidnapped in Enkhuisen ship. The abduction was initiated by a friendly invitation, royal dinner, some drinks, followed by knife fights and unequal bloodshed. Some Gowa warriors were injured and died. The arrest arranged by Enkhuisen‘s captain Dick de Vries and the VOC head of representative in Sombapou Abraham Sterck, infuriated Macassar. In one rainy day of December 1616, the first Dutch ship to reach Australia continent, de Eendracht, was cast onto the Macassar shore. Accused of entering Gowa territorial waters without permit and to retaliate the treacherous kidnapping almost two years before, Macassar confiscated de Eendracht with everything in it, including the soul of the remaining 16 crews.

Those two incidents; Sombapou blockade in 1634 by the Dutch armada led by Gijsbert van Lodestein which meant little for Macassar swift palari (ships); Macassar sailors’ support to Maluku (Moluccas) people against the ferocity of VOC in Hongi Cruises, along with other hostile incidents, generally could be settled with agreements. Sultan Alauddin and Governor General Antonio van Diemen cosigned a major diplomatic agreement on June 26, 1637. Stipulated therein that Gowa will not trade with VOC enemies in any port involved in war with VOC and that Dutch was not allowed to open trade office in Macassar.

Until 1651 not a single building was allowed as VOC buildings in Sombapou, when all other nations in the world with all of their security and properties were protected and permitted to expand. Whereas in fact that Dutch, the most powerful 17th century trade network, that time had started to rule Nusantara after conquering Cape of Good Hope, Coromandel, Ceylon and Malacca, all the way north to Taiwan and Japan. Trades in some commodities, however, still took place between Macassar and the Netherlands. As with Amsterdam, Antwerp, Venice or Genoa, Sombapou was briskly moved by the spirit of early capitalism then in full bloom in Western Europe and still has strong pulse in the Mediterranean. Even the Sultan was engaged in trading. Whereas KP was also a big merchant, conducting businesses with Maluku the Spice Islands, the Portuguese, and the Dutch in Batavia. His merchandise went as far as Manila, Thailand, Golconde (India) and other places his fleet could reach.

On July 22 1644, KP provided the captain of the Dutch Oudewater sandalwood valued at 660 real and an order list, as detailed by Denys Lombard in his masterpiece Le Carrefour Javanais: Essai d’histoire globale. Even the Dutch themselves referred to KP’s order as rariten, rarities. In addition to world navigation maps that for centuries were considered as kingdom secret and property, the most important rarities on the list was a 4 meters in circumference globe, a world atlas and a telescope, all the best of its kind.

After seven years the long awaited shipment arrived. KP definitely was very pleased as he personally went to the port to wait. Some years ago some of his orders had arrived, but this time it was an instrument that even most of European intellectuals could only dream of. Right on that mid February day, a Dutch ship anchored in Sombapou port. News of its arrival, as usual, was already spread to the whole city. Many residences, as was KP, came enlivening the harbor. But, unlike Sang Pabiccara Butta (the Prime Minister), mostly they came merely to see a strange gigantic object. Some of them might remember an occasion from nine years earlier, May 1642 to be precise. A European merchant they knew well, Wehara (Francisco Vieira de Figueiredo, one of the most outstanding Portuguese merchant-diplomats in Asia) brought ashore weird animals half as big as a house: Cambodian elephants.

Perhaps taking a pity on the lonely mythological Indian subcontinent animal, added with an ardent interest to know magical animals from other continents as well as to complete his vast collection of animals, among which were African antelopes and Asian horses, KP sent a letter to the Governor General in Batavia. In the letter accepted on June 1948 was included a request for the ride of Arabian Sultans and Prophets: a pair of camels.

As for the crowd in Sombapou port that day, faces of many traits, skin color, language and dress code, all of them, the Prime Minister in particular, were very tense, I imagined. They were waiting for possibly the largest terrestrial globe ever seen in South East Asia at that time. The 1.3 meters in diameter was indeed very impressing. Joan Blaeu personally made it, the biggest he ever produced. A renowned artist and cartographer Joan also built telescope instruments for the Danish astrologer Tyco Brahe. One of those instruments was a revolving azimuth quadrant. Three meters in height, according to Brahe,  it was accurate to one fourth of a quadrant. Despite the outdated geocentric approach he applied, Brahe achieved a reputation of being the biggest astronomer observer in his time.

The Second Generation

Joan was a second generation of the most renowned map charter and globe maker family in Amsterdam — at that time maps from Amsterdam, which during this period was one of the wealthiest trading cities in Europe and a center for banking and the diamond trade, were considered as the best in the world. The VOC contributed significantly to the wealth and prosperity of the United Netherlands. Joan’s father, Willem Janszoon Blaeu, had long before famous for his Map of the Netherlands (1604), the World Map (1605-1606) and Het Licht der Zeevaerdt (the Navigating Light), a maritime atlas widely spread all over the world in several editions, languages and headings. Around 1635, this VOC hydrographer published the first volume of World Atlas titled Atlas Novus. An improvement and improvisation of the legendary cartographer Gerard Mercator works, this was the best atlas of the time. Included within were the latest maps of every charted surface on earth. This could be the atlas listed in KP’s rarities.

When the globe order and several others from KP reached Amsterdam, they were like fire thrown on the hay of sensation among Dutch-based intellectuals. With the marbled city hall decorated beyond Gothic  style and the Dutch citizen that was tolerant to unorthodox thinking, the city became a safe haven for intellectuals censored elsewhere in Europe. The Netherlands in the mid of 17th century was home to the great Jewish philosopher Baruch Spinoza, deeply admired by Einstein; to Rene Descartes, the main pillar of the history of philosophy and mathematics; John Locke, the political thinker later to inspire the American Revolution through Paine, Hamilton, Adams, Franklin and Jefferson. Never before nor afterward Netherlands was blessed with such numerous artists, scientists, philosophers and mathematicians. This was the time of the renowned painters Rembrandt, Vermeer and Frans Halls; Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, the inventor of microscope; Grotius, the founding father of international law. One of these community members was the greatest poet and playwright, Joost van den Vondel, who deeply moved by KP order of rariten, enough for him to compose an ode to the ruler from the East.

Born in Cologne, Germany, Vondel contributed to European Art among others with his Gysbrecht van Aemstil (1637), and Lucifer (1654) said to have influences on British biggest epic, Paradise Lost by John Milton. During the Netherlands rise to fight Spain, Vondel presented several verses praising the glory of the United Netherlands. His play Palamedes (1625), however, had infuriated the Calvinists for presenting a religio-politics martyrdom theme. He then joined the group in opposition to dogmatic Calvinism, later to convert into Roman Catholic.

His eulogium to KP probably came from his dark experiences with Europe. As it was then, a continent where the kings and the nobles disregarded science for no tangible contributions to the expansion of lands, priests and bishops were stood against it because the ultimate truth was thought to be already discovered. As such, the wandering or exiled scientists drown themselves in the battle between alchemy an chemistry to find the philosopher’s stone, and could only work well under a few open-minded authorities. Some scientists such as Michael Severtus And Giordano Bruno, were so unlucky to end their intellectual adventures in a burning fire. Vondel might have seen the amazing combination in KP: a great ruler of a big sultanate and an ardent pursuer of science. The following verse lines and intellectual bonding beyond religion and continent borders were found in Volledige Dichtwerken.

Dien Aardkloot zend ‘t Oostindische huis

Den grooten Pantagoule t’huis,

Wiens aldoorsnuffelende brein,

Een gansche wereld valt te klein.

Men wensche dat zijn scepter wass’,

Bereyke d’eene en d’andere as,

En eer het slyten van de tyd

Dit koper dan ons vriendschap slyt.

“The Globe, the one East Indian Company

Sent to the Great Pattingalloang palace

Which mind wandering everywhere

Taking the whole world in as too small a place

We wish his scepter ever extending

To reach the one pole and another

For the passage of time decomposing only

The copper, not our friendship.”

Wonderful Library

The globe was painstakingly landed ashore and paraded to the palace. Along the passage, loosely robed children yelled under the bright Celebes sun, softened a bit by some stratocumulus left by the passing monsoon. The grand globe at last entered KP study, a spacious library decorated with gigantic bells.

As with most of the books in the room, those bells were ordered directly from Europe. Perhaps he was intrigued how different tunes of the different church-tower-bells could incite Europe into a bloody wars of religions, similar to one he had gone through. What certain was that acoustics and the laws of sound waves propagation were attracting his curiosity. Also found in the room some prisms capable of light rays decomposition, clearly radiated KP’s interest in the geometric nature of light and visual images. How far then this man who always carried with him books on physics and mathematics had struggled with the idea of light waves propagation? In the same year, on the other half of the world, Francisco Maria Grimaldi, an Italian scientist, was noted by science historian to discover the law of optical diffraction and validating the then speculative idea of light waves.

In the vast study, the Prime Minister had entertained some foreign guests, to discuss and debate in the guests’ native languages. Pastor Alexander de Rhodes, who invented Latin transcription for Vietnamese language, was one of many. With this Jesuit missionary, KP discussed many topics; from moon eclipse to the works of the Spanish Dominican orders Brother Luis de Granada. As a devout missionary, the Dutch pastor definitely tried every possible effort to convert KP. These meetings indeed went on several times to be ended with a friendship and notes of praises the missionary would later spread to the world.

It was known from pastor de Rhodes how strong were KP’s interests in religions, history and European civilization, how vast his library collection of books and scientific objects. An almost unlimited passion for all knowledge then understood, especially Religion and Natural Science, usually showed something beyond theoretical curiosity. The last two subjects were the most ambitious knowledge ever found by human: both claimed the whole universe as subjects and were convinced that there would always be an explanation for every phenomenon in the space and time of the universe.

What was odd in de Rhodes’ notes was the fact that no literary books mentioned in the KP’s library. Had he not loved art enough? Or simply because KP’s intellect were reported mainly by merchants and missionaries, two kinds of people that in caricatured ways were always suspicious to imagination and Art? We remember Meneer Droogstoppel, a personage invented by Multatuli in Max Havelaar: this successful merchant ridiculed poem and romance, also took theater plays as lies. We remember the blind father Jorge, from Umberto Eco’s The Name of The Rose: the keeper of the monastery library who condemned humor and imaginations in the name of an indisputable faith.

What certain was that all Luis de Granada’s works, in Spanish, were in the library. I wonder if the works of Iberian and European poets that gave meaning to the word Renaissance were also present therein. Could possibly some Dante, Luis Vaz de Camoës, Rabelais, Shakespeare or Miguel de Cervantes were inserted among the racks? Was he interested in Cervantes’ work that was accepted as the first modern novel in the world literary history? What was his answer to Cervantes distinctions of poetic truth and historical truth; on Don Quixote’s differentiation of knighthood and the life of intellectuals?

I imagined that since the very second the globe entered the study until the sun was half set in the Macassar Strait, KP drown himself in the room, fascinating himself by turning the globe round and round, comparing it to Blaeu’s Atlas and his own experiences, matching the map with the territories. Firstly he would scrutinize Sombapou position with respects to the poles, then marking the whole Gowa sultanate territory that held the most influential hegemony between Java and Luzon. Later, to locate cities he always heard of, the ones that for decades had occupied his mind.

Tracing those cities, moving from one ocean to another, continent by continent, he would remember how some Dutch high officials came to visit, never comprehending the fact: In Japan, under the reign of Ieyasu Tokugawa, they were the only Europeans permitted to enter the kingdom of the rising sun then closing its doors to the world; in Gowa, they were the only Europeans banned to establish office in any corner of a sultanate that openly welcoming the world. Politely the Governor General representative asked permission to open a trade office. To show that they were the leading race in Europe, those Dutch told him how weak  the Spain was, as they defeated her in the 80 years of war, and how mean the English was to decapitate their own king.

KP then would scrutinize London and imagined the parliament, supported by Oliver Cromwell, eventually beheaded Charles I. It brought him to the memory of The King of Gowa XIII Karaeng Tunipasulu’ (r. 1590-1593). Enthroned at fifteen, His Majesty carelessly fired Gowa high officials, raking the freedom of the Bate Salapanga confederation and killed anybody he disliked. So much that he acquired as an alias I Pakere’ Tau (The Human Mutilator). This Enfant terrible who might perceived that being a king is nothing but having an absolute privilege to act simultaneously as a child and as a God, ruled his kingdom shamelessly, as if forgetting that one of his predecessor, the King of Gowa VIII Tujallo ri Passukki, was stabbed to death by one of his furious servant. The servant executed his own king when the unlucky mighty ruler just finished ordering an unbearable act of humiliation. Having had enough of The Mutilator’s ruthlessness, the people and the custom assembly moved fast. They dethroned and disgraced the Young King after only three years of power, and ousted him from the kingdom.

Ecstasy and Agony

Through visiting big cities of the world, estimating the knowledge of the inhabitants of the newly discovered continents, and ensuring the location of Westphalia where the 80 years war involving most European countries came to an end, again he was suddenly attacked by both the ecstasy and the agony of knowledge. The dots over the globe brought to a new revelation. Fragments of knowledge neatly piled for years, whole bunch of information used to be unrelated and refused to unify, everything changed there and then. They, even the ones that were already forgotten and buried into unconsciousness, rose and twisting as typhoons to then reorganize themselves into one coherent world, a new universe of knowledge.

In his eyes the globe was no longer frozen still. Some fire sparked here and there, glowed ablaze and ceased. Borders altered, widening and squeezing. With the ever pulsating and fast moving surface, as if to intertwine and engulf each other, the globe came into life representing what later to be known as History.

KP felt his body expanded. His head ballooned sucking the whole globe into his head, melting into him, giving an indescribable ecstasy. This kind of ecstasy lasted for a few moment, to be replaced by a horrifying avalanche, an unbearable pain of the inconceivable pleasure of understanding. In an instant, KP and the globe were again separated. It was he then that shrunken, very small, and sucked in as just another dot on the globe surface, a meaningless dust in an ever revolving and changing universe.

He understood how tiny his country was, how meaningless Celebes Island was. He knew Macassar ancestors had traveled as far as Campa, Marege shore (Northern Australia) and Madagascar. But that were minuscule in comparison to the voyages of the Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch or British. They were the ones proving the roundness of the world. They were the ones carefully mapping the world and created gigantic globes. I imagined KP saw other countries more clearly. In his mind was spread a mental description previously seen by Vondel. The nationalist Vondel took Amsterdam as the axis of the world: big warehouses along the city’s port full of spices and cloth from the East, various cargoes of fish and whales from the North Sea and Baltic, sugar from West Indian, tobacco from Maryland and Virginia.

KP understood that all big cities on the Earth were all axes of the world, except maybe Sombapou. This apprehension gave him a stab of deep pain that lasted longer than the ecstasy. A regret came into, being in his last chapters of his life. He might have wanted to travel around the world, drinking the water of Renaissance knowledge directly from its fountains. He knew from the European merchants that Columbus discovered America in 1492, that Magellan departed to encircle the globe in 1519, followed by Francis Drake in 1577. One thing was certain; he wanted Sombapou to be another axis of the world and not to be drowned by the advancing big waves, willing to destroy each other and to sacrifice anything for spices.

The intermingled pain, remorse and anxiety were not eased by the fond memory of cannon making skills manuscript written in Spanish told to be written by Andreas Monyona. This manuscript was translated  and condensed into Macassar language since 1635 and now, under his order, was in the final stage of translation in full. It was in his time indeed the translation into Nusantara language of various summaries of European technology reached its culmination. There was no other country in the region of former Indonesia, except Aceh Sultanate, that commenced such systematic translations. Manuscripts of cannon making, gunpowder fabrication and arms were translated from Spanish, Portuguese and Turkish.

At the same time he was aware that more were needed to outreach the world; cannons and forts were not enough. Those were the insistence on adventures, the enthusiasm for new knowledge, without being so complacent to things accomplished, all to be instilled and widely cultivated. He indeed went on ordering Bugis-Macassar to build skills on duplicating and making of maps and routes of maritime traffics, another unique skill in Nusantara. However, the cartographic skills, the maritime prowess and the highly advanced sea transportation, were not sufficient to move Celebes to advance to the poles; to beat the Dutch up to Amsterdam and to spread its own empire across continents to tame other empire’s acts of expansion.

The assumption that everything Macassar people needed for a comfortable life was amply provided within might just be the underlying reason of Macassar self-complacency. Maluku, and Run Island — for thousands of years had been the obsession of Europe, the reason behind the long and bloody battle between VOC and British crown which ended up with one of the most spectacular deals in history signed in Breda, 1667: Britain ceded Run Island to Dutch but in return was given Manhattan that led not only to the birth of New York but to the beginning of the British Empire — was just nearby the Macassar water. Moreover Macassar found it was inconceivable to build a sense of mission among its warrior and priest to painstakingly sail and save the souls of the other half of the world. As with every other equatorial region, Macassar was also a heaven of its own: enchanting lands that made every other effort to imagine what heaven should be, became a cognitive absurdity. For long time, the natives lived with an azure-blue sky untouched by history and oceans unpolluted by temptation of divinely paradise. It was the newcomers who introduced them to those strange escathological concepts and details.

For centuries these people with short history binding them, lived in an eternal state of present time, loving their bodies, their rice fields and the vast overwhelming ocean ahead; with a mere conviction to uphold honor (siri’) and a blur conception of life after death. Military technologies could be acquired fast, whereas times and a hardbound history were needed to learn to preserve respect for the past while building glorious ideals with grandeur plans for the future.

I imagined KP contemplated deeply the renaissance man willing to pursue totality and undaunted to carry everything to the extreme, those who were not hesitant to drag the whole world into a battlefield of ideas, those cultivating in themselves imperial passion and awareness to be realized also in time, not only in space. Could he possibly remember a German legend told by the British of a Doctor  Faustus willing to make a pact with the King of Devil in order to gain the power of knowledge that enabled him to produce gratifying works for a thousand years?

Galilean Telescope and Slavery War

Only the sound calls of azan for Maghrib prayer could pull KP back to Macassar. After Isya’ prayer he brought a lantern to the tower of Mancini Sombala (observatory tower for sailing ships). The moon above Sombapou was the object of his affection. Since childhood he often observed it with naked eye. The need to calculate important dates of Islam and to record the kingdoms’ significant occasions in Lontaraq chronicles which is unrivaled in Nusantara, brought him closer to the moon. But naked eye is nothing compare to a telescope.

One year after the arrival of the globe, another breakthrough in science that changed the world astronomic history landed in Macassar: Galilean perspective telescope. That was the result of KP’s effort in 1635 convincing the former king, Sultan Alauddin, to obtain the best telescope money could buy for Gowa sultanate, as Gowa needed to get herself closer to the sky.

Galileo Telescope

I imagined that through the observing lens, KP’s eyes wandered on the moon surface, his heart pulsating wildly at first. On its surface he tried to find traces of Tumanurunga ri Tamalate, a goddess said to be descended from heaven to gave birth to the first ancestors of the kingdom of Gowa. As he had expected, she was nowhere to be found. He then focused on the moon’s physical appearance that had taken his interest for some time. Was he then moved to draw a detailed map of the moon surface? In Germany, Johannes Hevelius was recorded in European science history to start drawing accurate maps of the moon surface around the same year KP directed his telescope toward the azure-blue sky.

Selenographia, 1647)

KP was almost certain moved to draw a lunar map, making his observation of the moon more intensive. Suddenly he remembered two other moon several years before. The first moon is the eclipsed one, a celestial event which already well predicted in his library by father Alexander de Rhodes. De Rhodes’ mathematical calculation which KP easily to understand, once again provide firm validation that it is the sun, and not the human earth, which hold the honor to occupy the center of the universe. The lunar eclipse he witnessed himself forced KP to deconstruct all of his intellectual conceptions about human position in this vast universe. The second moon he remembered under his observing lens is a full moon shining above Bone. On that October day of 1643, he was leading a Macassar army of 40,000 warriors.

Around 220 years before Abraham Lincoln attached the abolition of slavery issue into American Civil War, the king of Bone XIII La Ma’daremmeng Sultan Muhammad Saleh had declared a war to slavery that probably the first of its kind in the East and South East Asia. A couple of decades ago, KP’s father, Karaeng Matoaya Sultan Abdullah Awalul Islam Tumenanga ri Agamanna, paid visit to Bone and all other kingdoms in South Celebes. This first Moslem ruler in the history of South Celebes Peninsula was persuading all kings to convert into Islam, asserting that the existing religion and codes of conducts inherited from their wise ancestors would not be sufficient enough to cope the incoming waves of change. As La Ma’daremmeng enthroned, he moved further than Matoaya, wanting the teachings of the prophet be carried away in full. Although vital as it was to the kingdom economy, slavery had to be abolished. Countries in the southern Celebes still practicing slavery had to be invaded, including Gowa.

Slavery, together with alcohol and gambling, still existed in Gowa daily live as parts of old customs though Islam teaching strictly forbid it. Even the King himself who has a lot of slaves rumored was fond of spending his leisure time with gambling and cockfighting. These customs were among many reasons drove Syekh Yusuf away from Macassar in 1644 and went off to Mecca spent several years studying Arabic and religious teachings. Syekh Yusuf al-tajal Khalwatial-Maqassari, as he is known in religious circles, was born in 1626, purportedly the son of the King himself, and is hailed as a hero in modern day Indonesia and a sacred spiritual patron in South Africa since three hundred years ago.

When he left Arab peninsula on 1664, he did not sail back to Gowa which was in great war against Dutch and its allies, but to Banten (Bantam) in Western Java. Yusuf was never to see his native land again. He eventually sided with Sultan Ageng Tirtayasa in his resistance war in 1680 against long attempts by the Dutch to gain complete control over all of the Sultanates in the East Indies. By January 1683 Sultan Ageng Tirtayasa was defeated but managed to escape with a party of 5000 of which 1300 were soldiers. Among them was the 57 year old Syekh Yusuf and the Sultan’s two sons, Prince Purbaya and his brother. During the war, many people died of starvation refusing to genuflect to humiliation. It was not long before Sultan Ageng himself was captured. Yusuf and Purbaya again escaped and continued their resistance. In September 1683, after a fierce battle in which Syekh Yusuf was wounded, he again managed to escape and fled to Cheribon en route to Macassar. They were overtaken by Luitenant Eijgel and completely routed. The wounded Yusuf again escaped and sought refuge in a little village. He lived there in complete destitution, fearing betrayal. By then, his company had been reduced a total of 24, consisting mainly of priests and four women.

Syekh Yusuf was eventually persuaded to surrender on a promise of pardon. However, his relentless physical and moral energy ended when Dutch military strategist Van Happel devised a scheme to trap him. Yusuf was captured on December 14, 1683. The Dutch never fulfilled their promise and he was incarcerated in the castle of Batavia where he was treated kindly by many people. The Dutch, however, suspected that he would attempt to escape, and in September 1684, he was transferred under guard to the castle in Colombo, Ceylon. While he was detained in Ceylon, requests from the King of Gowa were received for his release, on the grounds that his holy presence and religious guidance were needed. By then, Yusuf was regarded as a ‘Kramat’ — Saint — for his noble resistance. The requests were refused, and the Dutch, fearing that attempts would be made to rescue him, transferred Yusuf to the Cape of Good Hope on June 27, 1693.

The voyage to the Cape was not without mysterious events. En route the fresh water supply became depleted and being far away from land, this caused deep concern. When Yusuf came to hear of this, he merely put his foot in the sea, and told the men to let down the casks in that spot. When they pulled up the casks, they discovered, to their amazement, that the water was fresh and perfectly good to drink. It could have been that Yusuf knew they were near one of the fresh water currents of the coast of Natal. If so, it clearly displays the extent of his exceptional knowledge. Nevertheless, the legend lives on in the oral history of the community and is related with great pride by those who believe in his mystical power.

When Yusuf arrived at the Cape, on the Voetboeg ship, he was royally welcomed by Governor Simon van der Stel. His Bantam and Macassar background necessitated that he and his 49 followers be settled well away from Cape Town. They were housed on the farm Zandvliet, near the mouth of the Eerste River, in the  area now called Macassar. The Dutch attempts to isolate them failed, and Yusuf’s settlement soon became a sanctuary for fugitives, a rallying point for slaves and other exiles from the East. As Yusuf influence and spiritual teachings spread, the elementary structures of one of the first Muslim communities in the country were established. Despite its isolation, the first settlement of Muslims in South Africa was a vibrant one, and it was from here the message of religious teaching and resistance was disseminated to the slave community living in Cape Town. When Yusuf died on 23 May 1699, he was buried on the hill overlooking Macassar at Faure. A shrine was constructed over his grave which over the years has been rebuilt and renewed and remains a place of pilgrimage in the spirit of a very highly regarded intellect on war and religious affairs and is considered the one who brought the Islamic religion to South Africa.

At first Gowa was uncertain in how to face Bone’s fundamentalist and aggressive moves, even though some Bugis nobles in exile had urged Sombapou to take action. Among them was We Tenrisoloreng Datu Pattiro, La Ma’daremmeng’s own mother, forced to flee in protest for her son’s uncompromising rules. KP then sent a messenger to ensure whether the strong regulation against slavery was really after the prophet’s words or simply La Ma’daremmeng personal decision. Bone’s failure to respond urged KP to personally lead a big army comprised of the warriors from Gowa, Wajo, Soppeng and Sidenreng. And after hundreds of blazing nights, tiring ferocious battles, this army finally conquered Bone and arrested La Ma’daremmeng, one terrible defeat recorded in Bone chronicle as the start of Bone subservience for 17 years. Until the time Bone, the biggest Bugis sultanate, led by Arung Palakka the Longhaired King, used the culminating tension between Gowa and Dutch to free herself from Sombapou domination.

Satisfied observing the full moon, KP directed his telescope to other dots of light. That lens led him to a deeper realization that the night sky was not merely a gigantic darkness decorated with sparks of light. The night sky, he observed, was a life constructed on changes and regularities. Every sky object moved, changed its arrangement and constellation in an eternal regularity, the true friend of various kind of boat’s and ship’s bow in sailing century after century.

Some lights on the sky had been understood well by the wave-riders. The light ray entered KP telescope, presented many new friends he could not have possibly seen clearly with naked eye. Did he recognize Io, Europe, Ganymede and Callisto —  the Jupiter’s moons discovered by Galileo Galilei some 40 years before? Had he also seen the Cassiopeia constellation discovered by Tyco Brahe in 1572? What about the Orion or Neptune Nebulas? Did he liked the constellation of zodiacs mapped by Jodocus Hondius in 1615?

Human Extension

Most of the objects in the sky were not yet named as in today’s nomenclature. What would he name all those newly discovered objects? Assigning name does not only entitle a taxonomic action to differentiate one object from another as well as giving distinct places in the arrangement of objects, the Order of Things, to use Michel Foucault’s words. The name given was actually an extension of the provider’s existence, his history and culture, his deepest aspirations, his highest expectations: an essential action of building a symbolic universe that defines the name provider’s position in the cosmos. At the moment when the human being, abruptly dismissed by the new astronomy from the center of all creation, almost immediately he recaptures that centrality by asserting the omnipotence of the human mind and put his mind in the center together with its powerful and natural capability to give names.

Assigning names is always started with recognition, and the deeper recognition required lengthy attention. Data of changes accumulated in time through scientific equipments, however, could also become a meaningless heap. Their strength will arise only if two things governed them: Formal logical system expressed in Euclidian geometries and causal relations validated in systematic experiments. The father of Empiricism Francis Bacon formulates this method of combining sensory data with logic and experiments in the same century as KP life time, the first intelligent creature in South East Asia to understand the implication of mathematics in applied sciences. This combining method was later proven to be the prime mover of science and technology in changing the world up to an entirely different level.

Did not KP felt the urge to share the intellectual sensations arising through encounters and apprehensions between him and the celestial objects? Seeing his burning spirit to widespread military know-how and, before becoming the Prime Minister, persuaded the former Sultan to buy expensive scientific tools, led us to a conclusion: he really did. That meant he had to establish an institution — say, to make Maccini’ Sombala tower as a public observatory. All those expensive tools could still be bought as long as the free trade in the ocean was upheld. From there, it would take several steps to level with the Royal Society of London or Académie des Sciences in Paris. Those two scientific organizations that played significant parts in European supremacy, opened officially by Charles II and Louis XIV respectively many years after that long nights KP spent with his telescope at Maccini’ Sombala.

For the umpteenth time, KP’s telescope was redirected to the moon. This biggest object in the night sky reminded him again to Tumanurunga ri Tamalate. I imagined him deeply contemplating Tumanurunga conversations with the smaller kings from Bate Salapanga, a unique social contract in the history of Nusantara uniting nine countries into Gowa-Tallo. Graved was he to what fate brought to the end of Bate Salapanga? A people assembly it once was now gradually lost power to be a mere extension of the kingdom. The assembly members no longer had the authority to write constitution and regulations. They could not govern throughout the kingdom and had to do anything exactly what the king told them to. Later they could not even perform as counsel assembly. The king was the sole ruler and his word was the absolute law.

Has it ever occurred to KP’s mind that one month after his death, as the new authority, Sultan Hasanuddin — after some considerations, most likely the practicality of executing policies — decreed that he, the King, would also carry the duties of a Prime Minister? This act ended a quasi-institutional policy of power distribution based on a sacrosanct article in the twin kingdom Gowa-Tallo, a division later to be identified as the major foundation behind the greatness of the maritime sultanate.

More than ten years after the centralization of powers and the death of KP (he died in September 15, 1654), Maccini’ Sombala tower and Sombapou Palace complex fell into the hands of  the alliance of Dutch,  Bone, Buton and Ternate. Even when KP was still alive, the constellation and dynamics of economy and politics in Nusantara that provoked smuggling and the selective price strategy practiced by local merchants in opposition to VOC monopoly, had made Sombapou the city with the lowest price of spices even compared to Maluku, the Spice Islands herself. Banned in Sombapou, the Dutch had to get the vital commodity somewhere else at dearer price. This fact alone made decades of Netherlands’ costly and painful great struggle to seize Cape of Good Hope, Ceylon, Malacca and Batavia with the hope of controlling the price of spices, turned into a shameful futile waste. Other nations, including Dutch’s traditional enemies in Europe, did not have to sacrifice their armada and officers just to gain spices and other important commodities at the far lower rates in Sombapou.

If we believe that spice was the real thing behind the great waves of discovering new continents, which later encrusted to imperialism and colonialism, we can conclude that Macassar stood abreast toward these very waves. In the mid 17th century, it was not Europe the world conqueror nor the Spice Islands — it was Gowa that eventually fixed the price of spices in the world. The grandeur efforts full of bloodshed to dominate the world’s maritime routes became meaningless as long as Macassar and the Fort of Sombapou Palace still reigned.

The most magnificent fort ever built in Nusantara; it was defeated only by the 17th century world superpower after a prolonged battle described by Dutch senior officers, some of them were veterans of that great 80 Years War, as such a battle in a scale never happened even in the history of Europe. Armed with hundreds of cannons — made possible by KP’s insistence — as was Anak Macassar, said to be the grandest cannon ever built in Nusantara, in several occasions Gowa was a stone throw away from victory. Partly for internal treasons, Macassar could only presented to Dutch and it allies the most brutal and largest in scale war ever encountered by VOC since its inception. The Macassar warriors, refusing defeat and the servitude of the palace, among them were Karaeng Galesong and Karaeng Bonto Marannu, left the island to spread and continue the war on the open sea and in other lands.

Eight years after KP’s burial ceremony in Bonto Biraeng, Joan Blaeu’s Atlas Major was published. The Atlas Major was the most expensive printed book of the seventeenth century, consisting of nearly 600 double-page maps and 3,000 pages text of descriptions. The maps were richly embellished, often hand-colored and heightened with gold, and epitomized the style and quality of the period, which has become known as the ‘Golden Age’ of cartography.

Joan inherited his father posisition as Hydrographer to the Dutch East India Company which should have been gave him access to a great amount of up-to-date information particularly on regions of the world dominated by the Dutch. Although much of this information was incorporated into his manuscript charts and large wall maps, it seems he was unable to take advantage of his privileged position for his own publications: many of the maps in his great atlases contain less accurate information than his competitors. His emotional relationship and admiration to KP, an eminent enemy of V.O.C might just be one of the underlying reason, I imagined.

Joan Blaeu, World Map from his "Grooten Atlas" (1642-1665)

Nevertheless, his Atlas Major became the greatest atlas ever produced until that time,  an unprecedented atlas with cartographic-artistic achievement which is unrivalled until today. Shown in the Word Map section were two great persons. In the western hemisphere the prophet of the early modern world cartography: Gerard Mercator. Beneath the eastern sky, above Asia, KP was shown scrutinizing a globe and measuring the distance of Celebes from the North Pole. Two thinkers, each in his own way configuring the world, both now are undertaking heavenly assignments, among ancient Greek mythical Gods and Goddesses, amidst the consistently revolving celestial bodies in the Solar System.***

Nirwan Ahmad Arsuka


  1. M.D., Sagimun. 1992. Sultan Hasanuddin. Jakarta: Balai Pustaka.
  2. Lombard, Denys. 1996. Nusa Jawa: Silang Budaya. Jakarta: Gramedia. Translated into Indonesian Language by Winarsih Arifin, Rahayu S. Hidayat and Jean Couteau, from Denys Lombard. 1990. Le Carrefour Javanais: Essai d’histoire globale. Paris: Ếcole des Hautes Ếtudes en Sciences Sociales.
  3. Hamid, Abu. 1994. Syekh Yusuf. Jakarta: Yayasan Obor Indonesia.
  4. Reid, Anthony. 1999. Charting The Shape Of Early Modern Southeast Asia. Chiang Mai: Silkworm Books.

A shorter version without footnotes and reference was published in Indonesian Language in KOMPAS — Millennium Edition, January 1, 2000, under the title Bumi Langit Karaeng Pattingalloang. Republished as a chapter in JB Kristanto (ed.). 2000. I000 Tahun Nusantara (1000 Years of The Archipelago). Jakarta: KOMPAS.

The English version was published in Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, Volume 3, Number 2, 2002.

[1] Karaeng is a Macassarese word for prince. Pattingalloang is a name of a region, as Wales. KP stands for Karaeng Pattingalloang, the Prince of Pattingalloang who was the King of Tallo and the Prime Minister of Gowa.

[2] The most famous King of Gowa, hailed as one of Indonesian national hero.

[3] Gowa and Macassar are both interchangeable, though there is a slight difference between the two. That time, Gowa signifies a place and Macassar a tribe. Today Macassar is the name of the capital of South Sulawesi Province and Gowa is a name of a regency (kabupaten) in the province.

[4] Nusantara is historical name for Indonesian Archipelago.

[5] The Dutch East India Company, Vereenigde Oost Indische Companie (VOC)

8 Responses to “History”

  1. agam Says:

    bisa nggak yg bhs Indonesia, English-ku payah..

  2. Passompe Says:

    Mantap !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Ap boleh saya share di Blog saya … dgn terjemahannya Indonesianya …

  3. […] yang membawa hasil tanam rempah dari Maluku. Pelabuhan Makassar, yang dibangun secara massif oleh Karaeng Pattingalloang, patih di masa pemerintahan kakek dan ayahanda Hasanuddin ini, dulunya dianggap sebagai […]

  4. Ostaf Al Mustafa Says:

    Karaeng Pattingalloang terindikasi kuat telah mengalami konversi inflasi keyakinan dari Islam ke Kristen….apalagi ia mengizinkan pembangunan gereja khusus untuk portugis.

  5. ostaf Al Mustafa Says:

    KP terindikasi kuat telah mengalami konversi inflasi keyakinan dari Islam ke Kristen. Penandanya yakni sikap pluralismenya melebihi siapapun di masanya. Tak ada orang Kristen apalagi misionaris yang pernah bersikap dalam pluralisme melebihi KP. Membangun gereja di tengah ruang pertahanan kerajaan Islam, menunjukkan sikap KP yang membobol benteng pertahanan Tallo mulai dari rendahnya keimanan. Sejarah membuktikan itu memang terjadi. Ostaf Al Mustafa, Pendiri Yayasan Makassar Darussalam

  6. alamyin Says:

    great writing by the great writer.

    salam hangat.

  7. Reblogged this on Memilih Keputusan and commented:
    Would be one of my thesis topics.. Just found several sources in Portuguese, French, Dutch, English and Indonesia.

  8. Nur Hasanah Says:

    Sangat menarik bahwa ada teleskop di daerah makassar di jaman KP. Saya ingin mengetahui kira-kira kemanakah teleskop itu akhirnya? terima kasih

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