UNESCO’s Unique Cultural Heritage Committee has voted to add the art of boat-building in South Sulawesi to the global list of Intangible Cultural Heritage, recognizing the pinisi style boats used by SeaTrek Bali as the embodiment of this tradition.
With that designation, boat-building joins other unique Indonesian cultural expressions — such as wayang kulit shadow-puppet theater, the hand forged wavy-bladed kris dagger and batik wax-resist dyed textiles — on the UNESCO list.
Pinisi boat-building has played a crucial part in the development across Indonesia’s sprawling archipelago, underpinning fishing, trade, transport, communications and war.
Never built to plan, the ships were made with ritual, prayer and ceremony, with the skills passed down the generations from father to son.
Originally these ships were engine-less and sailed mainly by the Bugis and Makassan people of South Sulawesi. Pinisi are still handmade in the traditional style and still heavily involved in trading all over Indonesia, but are now motorized. There is often a large collection of them gathered at any one time in Jakarta’s old Sunda Kelapa port area.
Seatrek’s two pinisi — Ombak Putih and Katharina — were built by the highly-skilled seafaring peoples of Borneo and Sulawesi, using hand tools and traditional methods of construction, yet fully outfitted for modern passenger safety and comfort.