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Traditional Boats
Villagers of Panrang Luhuk
Handmade Model
Terminology of Boat building
Figure 1
Figure 2
Courses of a sailing vessel

Traditional Boats

Traditionally, an Indonesian sailing vessel is classified in two ways, i.e. by a term for her rigging and sails and a different name for shape and type of the hull. Accordingly, differences in naming traditional craft which are obvious for a sailor or a boat builder can be a bit of tricky for the layman.

Indonesia’s indigenous type of rigging is the layar (‘sail’) tanjaq. Craft using the rectangular tanjaq-sails since early times had been reported by Chinese, Arab as well as European sources as the typical ships of the islands below the wind, and even on the walls of the Borobudur there are carvings showing huge outrigger boats using that kind of sail. Today, tanjaq-rigged boat are ever more difficult to find as this type of sail now is in use on some smaller fishing craft only.The best known type of vessel rigged with tanjaq was the padewakang, widely employed for far-distance trading and fishing until the early days of this century. Padewakang were the biggest craft of the trading and war fleets of the famed South-Sulawesian kingdoms, used by Mandar, Makassar and Bugis traders and warriors for hundreds of years in their plying the seas between Papua Newguinea and the Malayan peninsula. They routinely sailed for the northern Australian coasts in search of tripang, bech-de-mer, and in a Dutch publication of the last century there even is found a drawing of a padewakang under full sail which is undertitled ‘a Sulawesi pirate vessel in the Persian Gulf’.

During the last century Sulawesian sailors began to combine the big rectangular sails of the tanjaq-rigg with the fore-and-aft type of sail which they saw on European and American gaff-rigged ships then venturing into the Archipelago. It took about 50 years, until these trials bore the pinisiq-rigging which for the better part of the next century became the typical sail of South-Sulawesi’s perahu.

As the story goes, the first pinisiq (pronounced ‘peeneeseek’) was probably built in the 1840ies by a certain French or German beachcomber in Treng-ganu, Malaysia, who had settled and married a lo-cal girl there. When one day the raja, Sultan Baginda Omar, asked the long-nose to help in building a boat that would be the same as the most modern western vessel, a royal schooner was built; boat and builder -by the name of Martin Perrot- were seen and met by an English captain who anchored in Trengganu in 1846. Following Malay traditions, this vessel became the prototype for a new class of vessels which were called pinas or penis, probably after the word pinasse, which in the French and German of the time referred to a medium-sized sailing boat used for conveying freight for ocean-going windjammer. However, it surely was not only this one vessel which became the prototype of the pinisiq; in fact, it still took several decades until the Archipelago’s typical schooner developed. Obviously, the competition from the newly-introduced European fore-and-aft rigged traders from English Singapore and Malaysia who were able to outsail the monsoon-bound traditional Indonesian craft was felt more and more severely during the second half of the 19th century, so the adoption of their rig proved a necessity for indigenous inter-island trade. During these decades of evolution, the Indonesian sailors and boat-builders changed some of the features of the western schooner: I.e., the gaffs of a pinisiq are fixed onto the mast, so that neither gaff or sail are pulled up to the crosstrees, but the sail is pulled out running along the gaff like a curtain. By the way, the first genuine South-Sulawesian pinisiq was built for a Biran captain by people of Ara around 1900.The amount of European words found in the terminology for a pinisiq's rigging provide some proof for this story. Actually, the nomenclature described for square-rigged vessels with Indonesian and Indian crews under European command in Dutch and English marine dictionaries of the last century show a concoction of Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and English loan-words for the various ropes and spars. As Indian Laskaris, Malays, Makassans, Bugis, Mandar and Butonese are reported to have been widely employed in European shipping in Asian waters, they would have been the best source for new details of rigging when again sailing on native vessels.
The word pinisiq does refer to the rigging only -i.e. seven to eight sails, consisting of three foresails on a long bowsprit, a mainsail and a mizzen on standing gaffs, two topsails and a staysail on the mizzen-mast’s forestay- while the different types of hulls bear their own names. In the early years the schooner-ketch rigging was set on padewakang hulls, but after some experience the Sulawesian traders decided to use the sharp-bowed and faster palari (derived from lari, ‘to run’) as being much more fit for the driving power of the fore-and-aft sails. Being genuine sailing ships, pinisiq were fitted out with masts much taller than you find installed on the motorised vessels of today; the whole hull was cargo space, and only a small cabin for the captain was put up on the aft deck, while the crew slept on deck or in the cargo-hold. The two long rudder blades fixed to strong traverse thwarts projecting out on both sides of the aft part, like those used on a padewakang, were retained as a steering device.During their heyday in the 1970ies, several thousand of pinisiq, the then biggest fleet of sailing traders in the world, connected virtually all the islands of the archipelago, and formed a major backbone of Indonesia’s economy. However, just at the same time the government’s efforts in motorisation did bring about some major changes.

Since the 1930ies more and more indigenous sailing craft adopted a new kind of rigging, the layar nade, which had been derived from the cutters and sloops used by western pearlers in Eastern Indonesia. Besides, European hull-shapes began to influence constructional features of Indonesian boats, and the nade-rigged sailor per se, the Butonese lambo, uses a centre rudder and stem and stern posts which are set in an angle onto the keel - in contrast to the traditional shape, where keel and stems form a continous curve. Today there still are several hundred of lambo/nade vessels trading between the small islands of the Moluccas and the bigger ports in Java and Sulawesi.

When during the 1970ies more and more palari-pinisiq were fitted out with engines, hull and rigging of the traditional Indonesian trader quickly changed: As the indigenous hull designs didn’t proof fitting for installing a motor, the lambo became the alternative. In the years to follow loading capacities were continuously increased, until today’s average perahu layar motor (PLM - ‘motorised sailing vessel’) can load up to 300ton. Nearly all the hulls of the vessels you find in the busy traditional harbours of Sunda Kelapa in Jakarta, Kali Mas in Surabaya or Paotere in Makassar today are modified lambo, though still retaining some of the features of the original palari-hull like the additional side-rudders.As their sails are just used for supporting the engine, the mizzen of nearly all PLM was cut down: Using many sails does mean needing many hands, and in these modern times labour and wages become a more and more important factor in even seemingly traditional economics.

Today, on bigger ships a one-masted pinisiq-rigg is used, while medium sized vessels are fit out with nade-sails. However, as their masts are much to short and the sail area is too small, these boats cannot be moved with sails alone, but use them in favorable winds only.

With Compliments of Mrs. Kerstin Beise and Mr. Horst Liebner

P3MP - The Coastal Societies Research and Development Project
Division of Social and Humanitarian Sciences, UNHAS - Hasanuddin University,
DKP - Department of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, Jakarta

RA Mandar - Bentang Somba Opu - Taman Mini Sulawesi
PO Box 1245 - Makassar 90012 - Sulawesi Selatan - Indonesia
Phone +62.(0)812.42.41.554 - Fax +62.(0)411.311.540 - kerhor@indosat.net.id

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