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Sulawesi Utara



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The history of Nort Sulawesi is mainly the history of Minahasa.

The name Minahasa means “The Union of the Seven Tribes” after  the union concluded in the 15th century of the walak (tribes) living in the north of Sulawesi: The Tombulu, the Tonsea, the Toulour, the Tountemboan, the Tounsawang, the Ponosakan and the Pasan Ratahan.

In the 16th century the Spaniards landed on the island and in 1574 they sent envoys to the Minahasa. This resulted in 1617 in the building of a fort near Manado. Not long afterwards they were dislodged by the Dutch which had settled themselves in another fort near Manado in 1608. In 1673 the Dutch Fort Amsterdam was built which became the nucleus of Dutch power in the Moluccas.

In 1679 the Governor of the Moluccas, Robert Padtbrugge concluded a treaty with the local rulers which was the beginning of a relationship of more than 300 years of the walak and the Dutch.

After a revolt of the walak against the Dutch which was crushed in 1807 and 1809 the Minahasa was annexated and incorporated into the Dutch East Indies.

Even when there were some other revolts in the 19th century the people from the Minahasa proved to be loyal to the Dutch Government. Many of them entered in the service of the Dutch army in the Indies and with their help the Java War (1825-’30) ended in a Dutch victory. In the beginning of the 20th century one third of the Royal Dutch Indies Army (KNIL) consisted of Minahasa soldiers, reason why they were often called Anjing Belanda (Dogs of the Dutch).

In January 1942 the Japanes attacked the Indies and one of  their first aims was Manado. The Battle of Manado was fought between 11 and 13 January an easily won by the Japanaese Special Naval Force (Kaigun Tokubetsu Rikusentai).

After the war Dutch sovereignty was restored temporarily and Minahasa became a part of the State of East-Indonesia. In that time the Territoriaal Troepen Commando Noord-Celebes (Territorial Command North Celebes) was stationed in Manado.

In 1947 a political movement which called itself De Twaalfde Provincie (The Twelfth Province) opted for an incorporation of Minahasa into the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The movement was appeased by the appointment of the (christian) Minahasan Sam Ratulangi as the first republican governor of the province of East Indonesia in 1946 (in the meantime Tjokorde Gde Rake Sukawati being president of the State of East Indonesia).

In 1957 it came again to a revolt when Minahasa political leaders proclaimed an autonomous Permesta republic (= Piagam Perjuangan Semesta (Universal Struggle Charter)). When the movement joined the rebelling generals of the PRRI in Sumatra  the revolt was crushed by Sukarno in 1958. In 1961 the Permesta rebels, who had retreated to the jungle to fight a guerilla, capitulated.

In 1960 the province of Sulawesi Utara dan Tengah (formerly Manado Residency) was established. In 1964 Sulawesi Tengah became a province of itself and in 2001 Sulawesi Utara was split up in the provinces of Gorontalo and Sulawesi Utara.




Two Ancient  Minahasa Warriors

Coll. Tropenmuseum inv. nr. 10002050


The martial tradition of the Minahasa population is demonstrated in this photography, probably from the beginning of the 20th century but showing the military dress of pagan times. The shield one of them is bearing may have been used for sword fights. The elaborate crests on their headdresses may indicate their high military rank. [1]


In today’s Sulawesi Utara the emblems of the V.O.C., the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Japanese Empire, the State of East Indonesia, the Federal Republic of Indonesia and of the Republic of Indonesia were valid. A heraldic emblem specific for the local administrations was only introduced in 1931.




The arms of the city of Manado adopted by Government Decision no. 43 of 1931 were:


Arms: Gules, a palmtree Argent on a base Or.

Crown: Of three leaves and two pearls being the crown of a count.


These arms are derived from the arms of Jan Pietersz. Coen, Governor General of Batavia (1619-’23 /1627-’29). Also these arms illustrate the importance of the copra-trade of Northern Celebes.




The present arms of the city of Manado are


Arms: the fort of Manado, in chief a mountain-ridge and a five-pointed star Or between two palmtrees proper,  and in base waves of the sea.

Supporters: Two flags on their masts red-white, and two daggers upright.

Compartment: An owl, wings spread, Or.

Title: KOTAMADYA MANADO in golden lettering on a red ribbon.


The achievement is on a white backshield with a golden edge.


Minahasa Council/Resort


The arms of Minahasa Council were granted by Decision of the Government of 7 October 1931.They were:


Arms: Argent an owl wings spread, in his claws two branches of the tawaäng-plant, each of eight leaves and a fan of six spears, points downwards all proper.

Crown: Of three leaves and two pearls being the corwn of a count.

Motto: FIDES PACTA (Agreed Fidelity) on a ribbon Or.


Kembaluan (the owl) is, according to Minahasa tradition, the bird which has presented Empung Wangku (the Supreme Soul) to man (dotu Mamarimbing) to watch day and night over mankind and by its cry warns it for evil and announces a good future. The tawaäng-plant was formerly used by all pagan priests at all their ceremonies and was until recently considered a legal boundery-mark for lotting out parcels. Each branch has eight leaves symbolizing the sixteen constituencies. The six spears symbolize the six districts of Minahasa. [2]




ļ The Koffie Hag/ Van der Laars version


The present arms of Dati II Minahasa district are:


Arms: [Per bend Gules and] Argent, an owl Sable keeping an escutcheon Or, a palmtree Vert.

Motto: I Jayat U Santi (Literally: Lift your Sword and Point it Upwards, meaning: Firm and Powerful).


Piagam Perjuangan Semesta



The emblem of Permesta was:

Emblem: A torch Sable its flame Gules, charged with a five pointed star Or a bordure Gules, charged with a palmtree Gules, leaved Vert.

Motto: PERMESTA (Perjuangan Semesta) (= Universal Struggle).


The emblem is composed of the fire of liberty, the socialist star, the star of the Pancasila and the palmtree of the city of Manado.


Provinsi Sulawesi Utara


The emblem of Sulawesi Utara is:


Emblem: A palm-tree, between four sprouted coco-nuts, its base surrounded by a string of kauri-shells, all proper.

Garland: An ear of rice  and a branch of cloves  proper

Title: SULAWESI UTARA in black lettering on a white ribbon.


The emblem is on a blue five-pointed shield with a golden edge.


In the emblem the coconut-tree, the sprouted coconuts and the string of kauri makes the date 23 September 1964, the date of the establishement of the province.

The garland should make the date of the proclamation of the Republic of Indonesia on 17 August 1945.


š See illustration in the head of this essay.








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© Hubert de Vries 2010-11-23

[1] ) There is another picture in the Collection of  the Tropenmuseum called The Minahasa Guard of Honour (inv.nr. 10001884). According  to Shields. Africa, Southeast Asia and Oceania. From the Collection of the Barbier-Mueller Museum. Munich, 2000, this guard bears shields from the Gulf of Tomini or Kulawi region which differ from the shield shown here.

[2] ) Encyclopaedie van Nederlandsch Indiė. Den Haag, 1939. Dl. VIII, p. 475.

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