Kapal Pinisi, The Legendary Ship of Indonesia

Kapal Pinisi

Indonesia is the largest archipelagic country and is also one of the nations that has a strong maritime tradition. One clear proof is the Kapal Pinisi or Pinisi Boat which is believed to have existed since the 1500s. This boat is also an identity for the Indonesian people as a nation of superior seafarers.

History of Kapal Pinisi

There are many historical records that noted Kapal Pinisi. One of them is the Serat Babad La Galigo which is one of the longest historical documents in the world. This record states that the first boat was made by Sawerigading, a crown prince of the Luwu Kingdom to sail to China. The main goal was migrate and propose to a Chinese princess named We Cudai.

Unfortunately on the way back to Luwu, this ship had to deal with a storm and it broke into three parts which spread to the areas of Ara, Tanah Lemo and Bira. These three areas are believed to be the forerunners of the birth of the Kapal Pinisi because in these three places the fragments of the Sawerigading ship were reassembled into a new ship which is currently known as the Pinisi ship.

The naming of this Kapal Pinisi is still a mystery until now. Some say that the name came from the boat’s mast. However, there is a mention that the name Pinisi is the name of a sailor who designed the shape of the boat.

Kapal Pinisi

The Long Way of Building Kapal Pinisi

Kapal Pinisi shipbuilding is very time consuming, it can even take months or years depending on the desired size of the ship. Until now, the manufacture of the ships is still using the traditional way with ancient rituals.

First, ship materials were searched on auspicious days and searched for teak trees and meranti trees whose wood was used as shipbuilding material. Before the tree is cut down, there is a prayer and ritual of cutting a chicken which aims to ward off evil spirits from the tree and for the safety of the ship.  

The wood chosen must be of high quality, so do not be surprised if the cost of making the boat is so expensive. After that, the foundation is still being laid which must be faced to the northeast. The process of making the boat is mostly done manually, so it takes a very long time. When finished, the boat is usually used for fishing, trading or fishing.

However, currently Kapal Pinisi is used as a luxury yacht for vacation and has become a symbol of pride for its owner. There is something unique about this phinisi ship, which is the seven pillars made on the ship mean that Indonesia is able to conquer the seven great oceans in the world.

From the Kapal Pinisi, it can be proven that the Indonesian people still closely maintain their ancestral traditions and as evidence that Indonesia is a strong maritime nation. 

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