Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 12.COM 11.B.13

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Indonesia has nominated Pinisi, art of boatbuilding in South Sulawesi (No. 01197) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Pinisi, or the Art of Boatbuilding in South Sulawesi, refers to the rig and sail of the famed ‘Sulawesi schooner’. The construction and deployment of such vessels stand in the millennia-long tradition of Austronesian boatbuilding and navigation that has brought forth a broad variety of sophisticated watercrafts. For both the Indonesian and the international public, Pinisi has become the epitome of the Archipelago’s indigenous sailing craft. Today, the centres of boatbuilding are located at Tana Beru, Bira and Batu Licin, where about 70 per cent of the population make a living through work related to boatbuilding and navigation. Shipbuilding and sailing are not only the communities’ economic mainstay, however, but also the central focus of daily life and identity. The reciprocal cooperation between the communities of shipwrights and their relations with their customers strengthen mutual understanding between the parties involved. Knowledge and skills related to the element are passed down from generation to generation within the family circle, as well as to individuals outside of the family through the division of labour. The communities, groups and individuals concerned are actively involved in safeguarding efforts, for example through marketing initiatives and the publication of books on the subject.

  1. Decides that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

R.1:   Pinisi, or the art of boatbuilding in South Sulawesi, is a practice involving sophisticated cognitive concepts that outline the three-dimensional form of a ship and its countless components as well as the advanced social organization necessary to successfully build, operate and navigate trading vessels. The bearers and practitioners of the element are: the Panrita Lopi (master shipwrights), who oversee a group of workmen (Sawi) and manage the division of labour; the Sawi, a group of workmen such as the foreman, senior shipwright and novice shipwright; and the Sambalu, the customers of the Panrita Lopi. To inherit more sophisticated knowledge, apprentices have to clearly demonstrate self-efficacy and spiritual maturity. The training consists of both practical and religious learning, since the ritual components of the tradition are also important. Building a ship is conceived of in terms of pregnancy and birth. Nowadays, the Pinisi schooner symbolises erudition and customs and has become an epitome of the Archipelago’s maritime tradition per se.

R.2:   The inscription of the element would raise awareness of the importance of indigenous knowledge systems and local wisdom. It would also lead to greater respect for the ongoing relevance of traditional knowledge systems in modern societies, which are often misconceived as being outdated. Furthermore, it would highlight not only the complex knowledge related to boat construction in Sulawesi, but also the value of the diversity of different knowledge systems worldwide. Moreover, recognition of the art of boat construction and marine culture would promote respect for human creativity, mutual understanding and intercultural dialogue.

R.3:   Around 500 people have been directly employed in the construction and outfitting of the ships, thus contributing to the viability of the element. The proposed safeguarding measures are clearly described, and comprise: inventorying and documentation activities, including the establishment of a boatbuilding database; natural resource management and the systematic provision of raw materials; the preparation of teaching materials for school curricula; the promotion of the practice through design and artwork competitions; the organization of annual boat festivals; awareness raising among visitors to the region and business mentoring assistance. The measures presented are clear in terms of the objectives, outcomes and available resources. The government has offered support for the establishment of certificates of seaworthiness, tree replanting initiatives and sailing expeditions with locally-built boats. Related challenges, such as environmental sustainability in the longer term, are also tackled in the file.

R.4:   Since 2014, the preparation of the nomination file has involved a wide spectrum of relevant stakeholders, including the bearer communities, non-governmental organizations, researchers and academics, government institutions at the central and local levels and public figures, all of whom provided their free, prior and informed consent in the form of signed agreements and video recordings. Some aspects of boatbuilding rituals are declared as secret (e.g. the mantra used during certain ceremonies and esoteric concepts regarding the ship itself).

  1. Further decides that, on the basis of the information provided by the submitting State to the Committee at its present session concerning the participation of communities, groups and relevant non-governmental organizations in the drafting of the inventory, the body responsible for the relevant inventory and the periodicity of its updating, the following criterion for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity is satisfied:

R.5:   The element was included on the Inventory List of the Cultural Wealth of Indonesia in 2010 with the participation of communities, groups and relevant non-governmental organizations. The submitting State has specified the entity responsible for maintaining and regularly updating the inventory.

  1. Inscribes Pinisi, art of boatbuilding in South Sulawesi on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Invites the State Party to pay attention to the impact of the inscription on environmental sustainability, notably with regard to the preservation of raw materials;
  3. Further invites the State Party to strengthen its efforts to ensure the effective and practical transmission of the relevant know-how to younger generations.