Treasures of Bugis kris at NUS exhibition

Below is a brief translation of the original article ‘Khazanah keris Bugis di pameran NUS‘ by Mohd Raman Daud, published on 8 September 2015 in Berita Harian.

Some 150 Bugis-Makassar kris of various kinds were on display in the Central Library at National University of Singapore (NUS) from 27 August to September 4 2015.

According to Mr Ismunandar of the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Singapore, the Spirits of Metal exhibition was jointly organised by the Rumah Budaya Indonesia in Singapore, Bugis-Makassar Polobessi Club, Singapore Kris Foundation and the NUS Department of Southeast Asian Studies.

This was the first exclusive exhibition of the Bugis-Makassar kris or weaponry held abroad.

Mr Andi Mohamad Irvan Zulfikar of the Bugis-Makassar Polobessi Club reported that Indonesian Kris was declared a UNESCO Masterpiece of the Oral and Intagible Heritage of Humanity since 2005.

This international recognition has strengthened the Bugis community’s determination to preserve its cultural values, heritage and weaponry.

In his opening speech at the exhibition, the Indonesian Ambassador to Singapore, His Excellency Mr Andri Hadi, highlighted the important role of the mighty Sulawesi Island sailors who are well recognised in the Southeast Asian seas but often wrongly perceived as pirates and slave traders.

According to Dr Mohamed Effendy of the Department of Southeast Asian Studies, the Bugis were highly influential and had earned the respect of early British administrators such as Sir Stamford Raffles.

The Bugis sailors and merchants were also knowledgeable in seafaring, political strategy and defence including the use of firearms such as cannons and had contributed much to Singapore’s maritime security.

Through press reports and records of early modern Singapore, Dr Mohamed Effendy discovered that Bugis merchants contributed to Singapore’s early economic development and laid foundations for success of Bugis entrepreneurs such as Ambo Sooloh.

Mr Andi Mohamad and Dr Ahmad Ubbe, researchers of Bugis culture and history, also gave a lecture on Bugis kris explaining the deep cultural and spiritual relationship between a Bugis man and his kris which is regarded as his personal reflection.