Tuesday, September 18, 2018
  • share this

Indonesia’s traditional boat builders reach into the past

/ 05:06 PM July 12, 2018

Sulawesi island is the heart of the country’s industry creating the iconic schooners, known as Pinisi. Image: Yusue Wahil/AFP

Under the blazing tropical sun, Indonesia’s traditional ship builders hammer, drill and carve timber from nearby forests into intricate two-mast vessels that have plied the archipelago’s waters for centuries.

Sulawesi island is the heart of the country’s industry creating the iconic schooners, known as Pinisi.


It has earned a reputation as home to master craftsmen and some of the best sailors around.

Their tools may have changed over the years, but builders still reach into the past by performing rituals and prayers key to the building process which takes place on Sulawesi’s palm-fringed beaches.

Once the vessel is ready to be pushed into the water, a goat or cow is slaughtered in a final purification ceremony.

“The process to build a Pinisi boat could take months or even years depending on its size,” boat builder Muhammad Bahri Jafar told AFP at his workshop in Tana Beru, about 175 kilometers from Makassar, capital of South Sulawesi.

Builders carry long pieces of wood over their shoulders as they weave a hull from a crisscross of timber that looks like a whale’s rib cage.

The ships — which can weigh upwards of 200 tons — once transported lucrative spices and other cargo around Indonesia’s vast archipelago and beyond.

Today, they still carry timber, cement, house tiles, rice, cigarettes and even motorcycles around the vast Southeast Asian country’s 17,000 islands.

Many have also been outfitted with sleeping cabins, kitchens and toilets for liveaboard diving trips. AB



WATCH: Time-lapse videos give glimpses of Japanese overtime work culture

Chinese boy confesses to urinating on elevator, promises to clean for 1 month

Soccer fans bond by singing ‘One Piece’ anime opening song

Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.
View comments

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: craftsmen, Indonesia
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.

© Copyright 1997-2018 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.