Makassar - History and Cultural Relations

According to written traditions, there were a number of minor Makassar principalities in the fourteenth century. A divine princess ( tumanurung ) is said to have descended from heaven around the year 1400. She is believed to have founded the kingdom of Gowa, which was based upon a confederation of the former minor principalities. Although this and many similar myths from South Sulawesi clearly reveal an Indian influence, the impact of Hinduism on Makassar culture was comparatively slight. Among several rival Makassar kingdoms, Gowa became dominant in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, exercising political and economic control over the eastern part of the archipelago. Gowa's political structure was strictly hierarchical, with the king presiding over councils of subordinate rulers, ministers, and various other functionaries. Political relations with neighboring kingdoms, including those of the Bugis, were extended through intermarriage among the ruling noble families. In 1669 the Dutch captured the capital of Gowa, but rebellions and piracy continued until 1906, when the colonial troops conquered the interior regions and killed the king of Gowa. Under colonial rule as well as after Indonesia gained independence (1949), nobles were incorporated into the administrative hierarchy. Today many Makassar nobles, who are still regarded by the local population as people of a higher order, occupy prominent governmental positions in the rural regions. In the course of history the Makassar have established colonies along many coasts all over Indonesia. Principal cultural changes were brought about by the spread of Islam (which arrived on the peninsula in 1605), as well as by the growth of the town of Ujung Pandang (during the last decades of our century), where a Western-oriented life-style is now becoming dominant.

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