Inside a Land Where Centuries-Old Sailboats Still Reign Supreme
All photos by Arzia Tivany Wargadiredja


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Inside a Land Where Centuries-Old Sailboats Still Reign Supreme

Indonesia's Bugis people were once masters of the seas. Today, they continue to build the Pinisi—a two-masted ship that allegedly brought them as far abroad as China and Australia.

The Bugis people were some of Indonesia's earliest, and best traders. They conquered the seas, riding monsoon winds to trade at ports in places as far-flung as Australia, China, and the island that eventually became Singapore. They were also ruthlessly effective pirates, preying on British and Dutch VOC trading ships to such an extent that some believe the word "boogeyman" comes from sailors' fear of the Bugis. (But it's probably little more than a myth—the word likely has Middle Eastern roots)


Today, the Bugis people continue to build the iconic Pinisi schooner—a two-masted sailboat that can fetch prices in excess of Rp 3.3 billion ($225,000 USD) used and Rp 5 billion ($374,000) new. The Pinisi are renowned for their construction, comfort, and class. And they are, to a large extent, still built by hand.

VICE Indonesia's Arzia Tivany Wargadiredja traveled to South Sulawesi to see the boats being built first-hand.