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The Original Pirates

The Original Pirates

A pirate is a sea trader, with attitude. With over 1,700 islands, an ocean on each side and a healthy respect for the sea, Indonesians have developed over generations into some of the greatest sea faring ethnic groups in the world. The sea has been a family affair for generations and whole families, communities and ethnic groups have become synonymous with life on the high seas, but none more so than the Bugis. The folklore of this ethnic group from southern Sulawesi east of Makassar has taken on a life of its own and a new meaning.

"Be careful or the Boogey man will get you." To be more exact "Be careful or the Bugis man will get you." This saying has come down through generations and is now present in western culture and language to speak of a mysterious danger that quickly attacks. Dutch and British Sailors learned this through experience in dealing with the masters of the sea the 'Bugis'.

 

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A community that is dedicated to the seas. They are born on water, live on water and are buried in their waters. Life is a difficult one, moving with the winds and creating homes upon coral rocks with wooden gangways linking homes. Local timber is used to expand and they live off what they catch. Apprenticeships are common, sons learning the skills and trades of ship building and sailing from their fathers. Literacy levels are low as there is no great need for words only actions are needed.

 

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The ships they originally used to make were solid hull vessels with old style steering oars as opposed to rudders. Their houses were placed onto of the vessels built for necessity. How far did they travel? There is evidence that trips to far off islands such as Australia were commonplace, wall painting made by Australian Aborigines depict Bugis ships trading in sea cucumbers.

The majority of the daily activities for these people were acting as traders between the islands. A simple life yet difficult subsistence living. In recent years more foreign interaction has brought diseases and illness that they had never before experienced. Mix that with a greater reliance for common comforts like electricity and the way of this ancient and unique tribe is slowly starting to disappear. So if you are on the seas of Indonesia and see small man-made trading ships pass you by, be careful it just might be the 'Boogey Man'.

 

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