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Old 6th December 2010, 09:07 PM   #31
Jean
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Picture of a Toraja noble woman attending a ceremony with her kris.
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Old 6th December 2010, 09:09 PM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean
I don't know much about Toraja krisses but 2 main issues:
. The kris was present and an important symbol at least within the Toraja noble population until recently, and I know of 2 Torajan people who owned a gold kris pusaka during my stay in Kalimantan in the 1990's, unfortunately I could not see the pieces (one was stolen, and the other kept in a bank safe!).
. To me the genuine Toraja krisses are derived from the old royal krisses from Makassar/ Gowa/Bima like the specimen from Christie's but the craftsmanship is much inferior, the hilt seems to depict a Toraja ancestor rather than an Hindu hero, and the sampir has a similar shape to the Bugis krisses. I attach the picture of a good replica of a royal South Sulawesi kris so you can see the difference with the Toraja kris from Marco and mine.

Perhaps then the keris in Toraja remained in the sphere of noble families only. But still, you say you never actually set eyes on these gold pusaka, so how do you know that they are indigenous Toraja keris and not from some other culture in Sulawesi, Java or elsewhere (Toraja nobles were know to marry nobles from outside their culture on occassion) ? How do you know what quality there were compared to a royal South Sulawesi keris?
Here are the questions i am not hearing answers to:
1. Why don't the 3 Torajan warriors from the 1930 photograph have keris amongst their weapons?
2. Why is it mainly women who seem to me carrying keris in the ceremonies i have shown in both photos and videos when the keris is for the most part a male dominated cultural symbol throughout most of the rest of Indonesia?
3. What evidence do we have that the keris was an important cultural item in Toraja pre, let's say, 1970? 1940? 1909?
4. None of the keris that i can spot in any of the photos or videos seem to be dressed in a similar fashion to either Jean's or Marco's keris. Why?

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Old 6th December 2010, 09:12 PM   #33
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Thanks for the image Jean. Is that off the internet because i missed that one. Much in the same dress mode as yours i would say, so strike my question #4 and change "none" to "most"...
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Old 6th December 2010, 11:03 PM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
Thanks for the image Jean. Is that off the internet because i missed that one. Much in the same dress mode as yours i would say, so strike my question #4 and change "none" to "most"...


Hello David,
I scanned this image from a Sulawesi touristic guide (Periplus) published in 1995. It looks a real gold kris and is more similar to the royal krisses from Makassar/ Gowa/ Bima.
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Old 6th December 2010, 11:37 PM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean
Hello David,
I scanned this image from a Sulawesi touristic guide (Periplus) published in 1995. It looks a real gold kris and is more similar to the royal krisses from Makassar/ Gowa/ Bima.
Best regards
Jean

Yes, i have a feeling that this type of keris dress that we are associating with Toraja really originates in Makassar.
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Old 6th December 2010, 11:45 PM   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
Perhaps then the keris in Toraja remained in the sphere of noble families only. But still, you say you never actually set eyes on these gold pusaka, so how do you know that they are indigenous Toraja keris and not from some other culture in Sulawesi, Java or elsewhere (Toraja nobles were know to marry nobles from outside their culture on occassion) ? How do you know what quality there were compared to a royal South Sulawesi keris?
Here are the questions i am not hearing answers to:
1. Why don't the 3 Torajan warriors from the 1930 photograph have keris amongst their weapons?
2. Why is it mainly women who seem to me carrying keris in the ceremonies i have shown in both photos and videos when the keris is for the most part a male dominated cultural symbol throughout most of the rest of Indonesia?
3. What evidence do we have that the keris was an important cultural item in Toraja pre, let's say, 1970? 1940? 1909?
4. None of the keris that i can spot in any of the photos or videos seem to be dressed in a similar fashion to either Jean's or Marco's keris. Why?



Hello David,
I will try to reply but have reached my limits so please consider my comments as personal and uncontrolled opinions only....
I did not actually see the gold krisses from the 2 Toraja gentlemen indeed but saw 1 or 2 pieces in a local museum which from memory were very similar to mine.
Yes, the blades of these krisses were possibly imported especially for the high quality ones, but note the large similarities and peculiar features of the blade from Marco and mine. I personally think that the sheaths & hilts were made locally as they are different from those from South Sulawesi which all have burung style hilts especially.
Question 1. To me the kris rather seems to have been a ceremonial weapon among the Toraja so it has not much to do with a warrior attire. And look at these guys, do they look like nobles or commoners?
Question 2. I have no idea why the women wore the krisses and not the men on the pictures but in the 2 cases which I know, they were clearly the property of the patriarch and passed from father to son AFAIK.
Question3. No idea especially because the Torajas were not well known until the 20th century.
Question 4. Besides my additional picture, the 2 "gold" krisses worn by women on one of your pictures look similar to mine although we cannot see the details. The videos are all recent and the girls wear tourist krisses so I won't rely on them... I will try to find other pictures or references.

Is there any member originating from Sulawesi who could tell us more?
Best regards
Jean
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Old 7th December 2010, 02:26 AM   #37
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I hope you understand, Jean, that i have no "horse in this race", so to speak. I am just trying to sort out fact from conjecture and get a better grasp on the keris culture of Toraja and what it means. I also never intended that you be the only one to answer all my questions. They are not directed specifically at you, but at the community here as a whole, so i do indeed hope that others here can fill in the spaces when our own personal knowledge and research has run dry.
It seems obvious that the Torajan culture has its own specific take on the keris. As we know, in most Indonesian cultures the keris is, among other things, a symbol of manhood and lineage and is for the most part the provence of the men in the society. Patrems exist in these cultures, but they seem the exception, not the rule. From what i can see in these photos and videos it is quite the opposite story in Toraja. Toraja does not have a patriarchal society. Unlike other areas of Indonesia lineage is bilateral, so children inherit from both sides of the family. Women own property just as men do.
Even once the keris become a ceremonial weapon in Java i believe it would still be worn by a warrior because of the everything else it means within that society. It is possible that the keris was never a true weapon in Toraja, but then i would imagine that it came into their culture somewhat late on the general timeline of keris history. As for your question about the status level of the 3 old warriors, it may well be so that they are "commoners". Of course, in most areas with keris culture the keris has trickled down to commoner status level. Every man, even a commoner, would strive to own a keris. Then we must ask if this is not the case in Toraja, who was Marco's keris made for, because it certainly does not seem to be made on the level of quality and materials that would be worthy of a noble. I would think that if it were not made for a commoner, if only nobles in Toraja own keris, then Marco's most likely was intended for the tourist market. Yours, being of a higher quality with gold seems more likely to have had a different intention.
I don't know how you can tell what kind of keris the girls are carrying in the wedding video. The women in the dance video seem to be carrying props, not real keris at all. The keris in the funeral rituals look real enough, but it's impossible to tell without handling them. But these are real ceremonies in these videos even if they are open to the public. They are, unfortunately, all we have to rely on for now for a look at the current state of keris culture in Toraja.
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Old 7th December 2010, 03:49 AM   #38
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I have almost nothing of worth to add to this discussion at this time.

However, I do know a woman who comes from Tanah Toraja, quite well. She's a close friend of my wife and we exchange social visits. She has mentioned to me that she has her family's keris.

At the moment she is away from home, and I will be away myself as of next Saturday, but I'll follow this matter up when I get back, and I may be able to shed a little light on the subject.

As for the "wedding keris" business, I guess a "wedding keris" is any keris that that has been used as a dress item at a wedding. I know a bloke in Bali who almost bankrupted himself putting together the most beautiful keris I've seen , for his wedding. Gold hilt and scabbard set with an enormous number of sapphires, rubies, emeralds and diamonds. The blade was crap, but the dress was exceptional. It took him about five years of trying, after his wedding, to sell it.

I know people in Jawa who have borrowed or hired a keris for their wedding.

I know others who have just bought an ordinary keris that they could afford and then sold it after the wedding.

I know others who have used a family keris and then handed it back to Dad after the event.

Don't know what they do in Tanah Toraja, but if I remember to ask, I'm sure I'll find out.
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Old 7th December 2010, 04:43 AM   #39
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Photograph attached from 'The Torajans of Sulawesi Live to Die', Los Angeles Times, August 14, 2008. No real explanation of the kerises in the article, but another example of the presence of keris in Torajan contemporary culture. Article at link below:

www.latimes.com/travel/la-trw-fg-sulawesi-indonesia-deathtribe2008aug14,0,1337473.story?page=1

There is a reference to keris and Toraja in Taylor & Aragon, Beyond the Java Sea (New York: Abrams, 1991), p.176: "The Toraja decorate their houses and rice barn facades with carved motifs important to the owning families. Buffalo heads refer to prosperity and ceremonial sacrifices. Gold knives, or kris (called gayang in the Toraja language), represent heirlooms and wealth of high-status people."

An accompanying photograph shows several keris as part of a funeral procession; the photograph is dated before 1949. I will try to scan the photograph at a later point, as I have no scanner at home.
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Old 7th December 2010, 09:16 AM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
Women own property just as men do.
Every man, even a commoner, would strive to own a keris.
Then we must ask if this is not the case in Toraja, who was Marco's keris made for, because it certainly does not seem to be made on the level of quality and materials that would be worthy of a noble. I would think that if it were not made for a commoner, if only nobles in Toraja own keris, then Marco's most likely was intended for the tourist market.


Hello David,
I agree that Toraja women could own pusaka krisses as well as confirmed by Alan, as these are family krisses.
I am not sure that every Toraja commoner would strive to own a keris, it this was the case, we would see more of them on the market, and in museums and collections. As a comparison in Aceh the commoners usually wore the rencong and the krisses were reserved to the elite.
I still believe that Marco's kris is a genuine piece and was used but "some nobles are more noble than others".
Thanks to Alan and Laowang for their contribution.
Best regards
Jean
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Old 7th December 2010, 06:31 PM   #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Laowang
.....There is a reference to keris and Toraja in Taylor & Aragon, Beyond the Java Sea (New York: Abrams, 1991), p.176: "The Toraja decorate their houses and rice barn facades with carved motifs important to the owning families. Buffalo heads refer to prosperity and ceremonial sacrifices. Gold knives, or kris (called gayang in the Toraja language), represent heirlooms and wealth of high-status people."

An accompanying photograph shows several keris as part of a funeral procession; the photograph is dated before 1949. I will try to scan the photograph at a later point, as I have no scanner at home.


Don't worry Laowang i have scannered the page.
Thanks for information
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Old 7th December 2010, 08:16 PM   #42
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By my last visit in Makassar a few years ago I get a invitation from a a local parliamentarian in his house to view his antique collection. At last he show me his keris. I have said that it is a Gowa keris but he byself labeled it as Toraja keris. It was an piece from high quality, sheath and hilt was covered from 18 carat gold panel sheet (declaration from him, of course unproved but believable). Proud he told me that he have carried it by his wedding and that he still wear it by formal occasions. Unfortunately I wasn't able to take pictures since I have had my camera forgotten in my hotel.
Honestly I can't add any information if there is a keris culture in Toraja.
To this time I have had a look in several antique shops in Makassar and have seen some Bugis keris. The prices have been horrible high, much more than for example on Bali. But I havn't seen not one Gowa/Toraja keris, neither such ones for tourists nor genuine ones.

Regarding the question what make a keris a "wedding" keris I think that Alan give a sufficient answer in post #38. Let me add that I have seen when a cousin of my wife get married on Java her husband hired a keris for their ceremony. On Bali, nine years ago I have seen a very nice old Bali keris in Klungkung offered in a antique shop and when I come back one or two days later to buy it the owner told me that he have conferred it for a wedding ceremony. I am aware that the term "wedding keris" may be a western concept and this term is often to read by auction houses, special regarding Bali keris in magnificent dress.

I am like Jean still believe that the keris from Marco is a genuine keris with some age with of course lower quality and it's function has been to be part of a ceremonial dress, for example a wedding, but this is my personal "feeling/impression".

Sincerely,

Detlef

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Old 7th December 2010, 09:43 PM   #43
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In my post i wrote (toraja ?) not (toraja).
The keris of my post is a keris that, I SUPPOSE, could have been used (sorry for my bad english)in CEREMONiES . For ceremony i think: great moments in the life of a person.
I liked the keris only for the dress/hit of the blade... not for the blade that is ,of course, very very simple.
About the blade i saw, in my past, other similar keris with, really, beautifull gold saronsg/hits but... the blades were always very very simple .
Maybe in Sulawesi there are very good sarong workers but not so good keris makers...i don't know.
About the pic from the book i scannered i put here a similar tau tau pic
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Old 8th December 2010, 01:11 AM   #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
I am confused because the passage that you just quoted seems to imply that smiths are, or at least were making ceremonial sword blades (as well as other cutting implements and tools) in Toraja in the 1970s.

Do you believe this dress shown here in Marco's and Jean's examples are a style particular to Toraja or is it borrowed perhaps from neighboring Makassar or some other culture in Sulawesi? Do you think the dress in these examples was actually made in Toraja, or is that imported as well. I must say that from looking at other Torajan art i do not see any of their particular designs and motifs exhibited in these keris.
David, I'm confused as well.. I guess I misunderstood the quoted text. It's best to get people familiar with the Torajan culture to give accurate inputs.. I stand corrected, thanks guys for the added information.. Thanks Alan for illustrating the 'wedding keris'.. it's sometimes hard for me to express it in words..
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Old 8th December 2010, 04:14 AM   #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alam Shah
It's best to get people familiar with the Torajan culture to give accurate inputs..

Completely agree Shahrial. I am hoping that Alan's source might be able to tell us something more, and of course any other direct sources we can find would be helpful as well as older photographs. If that one fro 1930 exists there must be some others i would imagine.
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Old 8th December 2010, 10:55 AM   #46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcokeris
Don't worry Laowang i have scannered the page.
Thanks for information


Thank you Marco for this interesting picture. Although it is not very clear, it shows 2 important aspects:
. The tradition of owning krisses and wearing them during ceremonies was well established in the Toraja society before 1950.
. The krisses shown on this picture (and mine with the lady) look very similar to the old royal krisses from South Sulawesi and Sumbawa and the hilts seem to depict Hindu heroes, so my kris and the one from Marco (which are more common and recent) do not follow the traditional design.
These original gold krisses are very difficult to find even in South Sulawesi as confirmed by Detlef, and it seems to me that they had not been made since a long time may be because of their Hindu attributes.
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Old 8th December 2010, 02:53 PM   #47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean
. The tradition of owning krisses and wearing them during ceremonies was well established in the Toraja society before 1950.

This is a good shot for establish timeline. It is also interesting because the keris aren't actually being worn here, they are attached to the sides of the carrier.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean
. The krisses shown on this picture (and mine with the lady) look very similar to the old royal krisses from South Sulawesi and Sumbawa and the hilts seem to depict Hindu heroes, so my kris and the one from Marco (which are more common and recent) do not follow the traditional design.

Since they do not follow the design seen here are they still traditional Toraja keris. Have you both IDed them as such based on place of purchase or some kind of provenance?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean
These original gold krisses are very difficult to find even in South Sulawesi as confirmed by Detlef, and it seems to me that they had not been made since a long time may be because of their Hindu attributes.

AFAIK the Torajan populous is, on the outside at least, about 82% Christian and only 6% Islamic, so it seems unlikely that they would ban Hindu deities bases on Islamic prohibition of form. And in spite of their conversion to Christianity they have held on to many of their animistic traditions.
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Old 8th December 2010, 08:07 PM   #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
1. Since they do not follow the design seen here are they still traditional Toraja keris. Have you both IDed them as such based on place of purchase or some kind of provenance?

2.AFAIK the Torajan populous is, on the outside at least, about 82% Christian and only 6% Islamic, so it seems unlikely that they would ban Hindu deities bases on Islamic prohibition of form. And in spite of their conversion to Christianity they have held on to many of their animistic traditions.


1. They still basically follow the original design but with some variations (shape of the hilt and sampir) and a lower manufacturing standard. My impression is that they are modern Toraja krisses (20th century) and the manufacturing tradition of the original ones seems to have been lost unless somebody could show us the contrary (except replicas like mine of course). I bought my "Toraja" piece from an antique dealer in Jakarta in 1998, and I just knew that it was used and originated from Sulawesi but not more than that.

2. I don't mean the Toraja people but these gold krisses were probably made in South Sulawesi and exported to the Toraja area, so after the conversion of the Bugis and Makassarese to Islam at the beginning of the 17th century, these krisses with Hindu features probably became less popular among the Muslim population except those made for the Toraja market as they remained animists. Again this is based on the observation that these krisses can't be found anymore in South Sulawesi (except probably some pusakas in the noble families) but are still present among the Toraja elite.
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Old 30th March 2011, 07:31 AM   #49
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This morning my wife and I visited the friend I mentioned in post # 38.

I asked her why it was that when we see pictures of Toraja gatherings and a keris is present, it is now almost always with a woman, rather than with a man.

Does this mean that for Toraja people the keris is not now a male symbol and if so, was it ever a male symbol for Toraja people?

I did not know it before this morning, but apparently this woman comes from minor royalty, so I am assuming, I hope correctly, that what she has told me has some element of accuracy in it.

The full conversation used a couple of hours and we were given lots and lots of irrelevant information, but the essence of her answer in respect of keris was this:-

1) In times past, perhaps in her great grandparent's time, the keris was identified with men, because men were the hunters and the warriors.

2) In the present day the keris is recognized as a part of cultural inheritance, but it is no longer the specific preserve of men, no longer associated directly with men, but where it is an heirloom, a pusaka, it is associated with the family. Within a family it might fall to a man, or to his wife to look after the keris, and if it is worn, it is mostly worn by the woman as a dress ornament that is associated with culture. Nothing more.

3) In her own family, and in most other families that she knows, the last two generations have not passed on any of the knowledge of culture and family history. She is of the opinion that WWII destroyed the continuation of culture and that independence and the entry to modern times helped, because the old people saw that the younger generations were not interested in what had come before, so they did not try to teach them, but if a question was asked, only then would they answer.

4) As things stand right now, the only people who truly understand the culture are specialists and people in universities. In a normal family the family keris has become just an ornament that is used sometimes in traditional dress.

This woman has lived in Australia for about 20 years, but she spends three months every year back with her family in Torajaland. She appears to be completely in touch with the present day situation there.

She knew absolutely nothing of the esoteric side of the keris as it applies in Jawa and Bali
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Old 14th October 2011, 08:07 PM   #50
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Come across by my last trip to Indonesia again a Toraja/Gowa keris of lower quality but obviously very old or at last heavy used. I wasn't able to buy it (what I would like to do ) but I get the permission to take photos and to show them here. Enjoy!
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Old 15th October 2011, 01:00 AM   #51
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Very interesting and nice pics.Thanks
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Old 15th October 2011, 01:35 AM   #52
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Thank you Detlef .

I am coming to the conclusion that for the peoples of Toraja at least the actual keris itself was much more a vehicle for the dress than an esoteric object .

The face of the figure reminds me of a funeral mask .
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Old 17th October 2011, 04:26 AM   #53
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Late sharing on Marco's thread. I have some pictures of kerises from Kesultanan Bone of South Sulawesi or known popularly as Kesultanan Bugis too. You may compare the style of these images on Bone keris, with "pangulu tau tau" (human head hilt). These were the Museum Gajah's collection, the National Museum of Jakarta...

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Old 17th October 2011, 04:29 AM   #54
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This is also Museum Gajah's Collection on Kesultanan Bone's keris, taken from BlackBerry cellphone...
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Old 17th October 2011, 04:31 AM   #55
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Another Kerajaan Bone's keris, from the collection of Museum Gajah, the National Museum of Jakarta...
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Old 17th October 2011, 04:36 AM   #56
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Default Sulawesi after Perang Makassar (Makassar War 1667)

One of two kerises is a Kerajaan Gowa (also South Sulawesi) keris (first from left), from the collection of Tropen Museum, Amsterdam, Holland. I took this picture two years ago...

After the domination of eastern Nusantara imperium Kesultanan Gowa in Sulawesi -- after Makassar war 1667 -- then under the Dutch influence, the Sulawesi was dominated by Kerajaan Bone (Bone Sultanate). At that time, the XVI sultan of Gowa was Sultan Hassanuddin 1653-1669, and the sultan of Bone Sultanate was La Tenri Arung Palakka 1672-1696 (the statue with spear and keris in Bone, Watampone depicted Arung Palakka). Both kesultanans had their sultans from 1300-s...

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