The history of Boné A.D. 1775-1795: the diary of Sultan Ahmad as-Salleh Syamsuddin

Omar, Rahilah

Southeast Asia
November 2003

Thesis or dissertation

© 2003 Rahilah Omar. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

This thesis uses an interdisciplinary approach, combining the findings of anthropology with historical and archival research, to evaluate Bugis diaries to provide historical information relating to the kingdom of Boné in the late eighteenth century. The diary of Sultan Ahmad as-Salleh, which covers the period 1775 to 1795, forms the primary material for the study, and is examined alongside other, selected Bugis diaries.

The first three chapters form the conceptual framework against which the Bugis diary must be understood. The methodology is set out in Chapter One. The second chapter provides historical, geographical and ethnological information about South Sulawesi; it introduces the Bugis and the regency of Boné, and discusses Bugis written tradition and the knowledge it reflects. Chapter Three is concerned with the Bugis language, its origin and the development of the written script. The specificity of the Bugis diaries as a distinct category of indigenous written works is discussed.

Chapters Four, Five and Six apply the methodology to the diary of Sultan Ahmad as-Salleh, cross-referencing its entries to other contemporary primary sources. Throughout, the function of the court diary is considered, and its limitations, most notably concerning the objectivity, are identified and discussed. Chapter Four examines the political life of Boné, the most powerful and important of the Bugis kingdoms of South Sulawesi in the eighteenth century. Centering on particular episodes that occurred during his reign, the reliability of the king's diary is tested. In Chapter Five, information from the diary is used to produce an account of the economy of Boné and to describe a number of traditional economic practices of the inner circle at court. Chapter Six analyses what can be learned from his diary of the diverse social, cultural and religious practices in which the king was involved.

Chapter Seven, in conclusion, reflects on the character of Sultan Ahmad as-Salleh, who ruled Boné from 1775 until his death in 1812. No physical memory of him has survived in South Sulawesi. His memorial is his diary and the light that it sheds on Boné's past.

Department of South East Asian Studies, The University of Hull
Caldwell, Ian
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