Sulawesi’s (former Celebes) colourful history
is the story of spices and foreign merchants of mariners and sultans and of
foreign power wresting control of the spice trade. Much of South Sulawesi's
early history was written in old texts that can be traced back to the 13th
and 14th centuries.
When the Portuguese, the first western visitors,
reached Sulawesi in 1511, they found Makassar a thriving cosmopolitan
entre-port where Chinese, Arabs, Indians, Siamese, Javanese, and Malays came
to trade their manufactured metal goods and fine textiles for precious
pearls, gold, copper, camphor and, of course, the invaluable spices - nutmeg,
cloves and mace which were brought from the interior and from the
neighbouring Spice Islands, the present day Moluccas.
By the 16th century, Makassar had become Sulawesi's
major port and centre of the powerful Gowa and Tallo sultanates which between
them had a series of 11 fortresses and strongholds and a fortified sea wall
which extended along the coast. The arrival of the Dutch in the early 17th
century, altered events dramatically. Their first objective was to create a
hegemony over the spice trade and their first move was, with the help of
Arung Palakka, the king of Bone, to capture the fort of Makassar in 1667,
which they rebuilt and renamed Fort Rotterdam. From this base they managed to
destroy the strongholds of the Sultan of Gowa who was then forced to live on
the outskirts of Makassar.
The character of this old trading centre changed as
a walled city known as Vlaardingen (today’s Palandingan) grew, the place where the
Europeans and the Chinese lived and where slaves were at the bidding of the
imposing foreigners. Gradually, in defiance of the Dutch, the Arabs, Malays and Bugis returned
to trade outside the grim fortress walls and later also the Chinese.
The town again became a collecting point for the
produce of eastern Indonesia - the copra, rattan, pearls, trepang and
sandalwood and the famous oil made from bado nuts used in Europe as men's
hair dressing - hence the anti-macassars (embroidered cloths placed at head
rests of upholstered chairs).
Although the Dutch controlled the coast, it was not
until the early 20th century that they gained power over the interior of the
south through a series of treaties with local rulers.
Arms of the City of
Coll. K.I.T. Amsterdam
Arms: Or, a fructed coconut-tree, pierced by a
sword per bend sinister all proper.
Crown: A mural crown of five towers.
Supporters: Two deer proper standing
on a branch of a tangkala-tree Vert.
It is asumed that the arms date from 1667:
“These arms are
carved in stone above one of the city-gates. It was granted to the city by
Speelman in 1667 and is a striking example of the resolute character of
our ancestors whose heroic deeds rightly inspire our admiratition.
Above these arms
the date 1708 is carved.
This date, which is also carved on the other
city gates together with the arms of
Speelman and the V.O.C., apparently is the date on which the city
of Vlaardingen, the capital of the Makassar Government, has been build.
The sword is explained as follows:
“.....it was on the
occasion of this victory, that the proud and stout admiral at Mariso, in the
presence of the victorious allies and of humiliated enemies, pulled his
strong sword and trusted it with one blow through a coconut palmtree and
cried: As actually my arm is strong enough to pierce this trunk, the Dutch
people will always be found capable to control the Makassar people and punish
every act of treason.” 
The arms are derived from the arms of Jan Pietersz. Coen,
the first Governor of Batavia (1619-’23) who bore:
Arms: Or [Azure], a palmtree fructed proper.
Crest: On a helmet lambrequined of the colors the
palmtree of the arms.
Such a derivation was also granted to the city of
The achievement granted in 1931 is slightly
Arms of the City of Makassar, 1931
Arms: Or, a fructed coconut-tree, pierced by a
sword per bend all proper.
Crown: A crown of three leaves and two pearls being
the crown of a count.
Supporters: Two deer proper
standing on a branch of a tangkala-tree Vert.
Present Arms of
Arms: Argent, a pinini (Bugi sailing
vessel) sailing to the sinister on waves of the sea, ensigned of the national
flag of Indonesia and the name KOTA MAKASSAR below, surrounded
by a garland of rice and palmleaf, all proper within a bordure tierced Gules,
Or and Sable.
Crest: A wall embattled Gules, masoned Sable
(referring to one of the bastions of Fort Rotterdam).
Motto: SEKALI LAYAR TERKEMBANG PANTANG BIDUK SURUT
KEPANTAI (Once the Sail Hoisted don’t
Return to the Coast).
WW II and its Aftermath
occupation the headquarters of the 2nd Japanese Fleet which ruled over Borneo
and the Great East, was established in Makassar. Its emblem was an anchor
charged with a cherry blossom. This emblem was for example printed on stamps
issued by the government.
After WW II the
Dutch government tried to restore Dutch rule in Celebes. For this reason the
Territorial Command South- and Central Celebes (Territoriaal
Troepencommando Zuid- en Midden Celebes) was stationed on the island.
The arms of this
Arms: Vert, a
babirusa proper and in chief the Dutch tricolore.
The babirusa (Babyrousa celebensis - Babyrousinæ) is
a pig found in the tropical forests of Sulawesi.
Subordinated to the TTZMC was the Depot (or: Korps) Speciale Troepen a task force whose aim was to suppress the nationalists who tried to prevent restoration of Dutch rule. The Corps operated very ruthlessly from December 1946 until Februari 1947. As a result the State of Indonesia Timoer (East Indonesia), founded on 24 December 1946 in Den Pasar as a successor of the Grote Oost Province founded 1938, could take shape. Makassar bacame its capital,
A coat of arms for the DST was adopted by decision Clg 6173/GS/35 dd 17-12-1947, almost a year after the Celebes-operations but may have been used unofficially before. It was:
Arms: Per fess, in a dark blue chief the Southern Cross
consisting of five four-pointed stars Argent, and in a light blue base a sun
radiant Or; and over all a dagger per pale, point downwards, Gules and
The arms represent the motto
“Ready by Night and by Day”.
After the dissolution of
Indonesia Timoer on 15 August 1950, the former Gouvernement Celebes en
Onderhoorigheden was split up in the provinces of Sulawesi Selatan and
Sulawesi Tenggara. In 2004 the new province Sulawesi Barat was separated from
The achievement of Sulawesi
Selatan was adopted in 1972. It is:
Emblem: Mount Lompobatang (2871 m) rising from the forest,
charged with an unsheathed badik per pale, in chief a five-pointed
star radiant Or, in base sawah’s
Garland: rice and cotton, on its junction the plan of Fort Somba
Opu, in the upper part Azure a pinisi
in full sail sailing to the dexter, in dexter base Vert coconuts Or, in
sinister base Or a cogwheel and an adze proper.
Motto: Toddo’puli (Firm in Conviction) in Lontara script.
Title: SULAWESI SELATAN in
white lettering on a red ribbon.
ð See illustration in the head of this essay
A badik is a Sulawesi dagger related to the Malay keris
The five-pointed star is for God
The sawah’s are for agriculture and the 23 fields are for
the number of South Sulawesi regencies
The garland makes the date 17 August 1945
Fort Somba Opu was constructed in 1525 by Daeng
Matanri Karaeng Temapa’risi’Kallona, the 9th king of Gowa (1510-’46) to resist Portuguese invasion. Later it
was a stronghold against V.O.C. attacks. It was destroyed by the Dutch in
The pinisi is the famous Bugis sailing vessel and
refers to the seafaring past of South
The arms of the
South Sulawesi Police Force shows, on the usual shield per bend sinister Or
and Sable the pinisi from the provincial arms surrounded by a garland.
© Hubert de Vries
 Indisch Jaarboekje, Warnaserie,
1850. Cited by Rühl, Dirk: Nederlandsch-Indische Gemeentewapens. Geschiedenis.
legenden en Besluiten. 1933. Also: Gonggryp, G.F.E: Het wapen van Makasar. In:
De Nederlandsche Leeuw, December 1934. And: Laars, S.G. van der: Indische
Wapens nos 16 & 31 In: Koffie Hag: Nederlandsche Heraldiek.