101 La Galigo Featured Kareba-Kareba

La Galigo, Now and Then

There are so many things that could happen as the time goes by, and changes can’t be avoided. As an ancient manuscript, La Galigo has experienced a lot of different things through ages. Then and now, what happened to La Galigo?


  • Hundreds of years ago, many Buginese people considered La Galigo as a sacred literature. The manuscripts were even wrapped in a clean piece of white cloth and placed in an appropriate place. Putting it on the floor or in a dirty room is a big NO. People at that time highly respected it. They would burn incense before holding or reading it.
  • Lines from the manuscripts were read and sung in many traditional occasions such as wedding. The wedding couple would feel really blessed when it was sung in their wedding. If it is compared to a nowadays wedding, the lines sung would be those songs sung in a reception to present a solemn atmosphere.
  • La Galigo was believed as a bad luck repellent. People would read it when they move to a new house. In Buginese tradition, there is a traditional ceremony held when a family enters a new house. The purpose is to avoid bad luck so the family will have a good time living in it.
  • When a person was sick, La Galigo was read with a hope that he would recover soon. This is probably due to the story of La Galigo that tells about a character named Opunna Luwuq who had a kind of shade which if it is spread to the whole country, diseases would disappear.
  • Not to mention, La Galigo also contains a lot of knowledge essential to royal family that it was used as a reference before a traditional ceremony was held. The royal family would search for information regarding the preparations and make sure that they were doing it in a right way. La Galigo contains a story about kingdoms and provides detail explanations about certain traditional ceremonies conducted by the royal family as the story developed.
  • Apart from its serious functions in Buginese community, La Galigo was also an entertainment for them. When people are sad, they would read or sing it.


La Galigo Theatre in Italy by Robert Wilson. Source: Bali Purnati


  • Buginese people almost completely forget about La Galigo. So sad it is. The whole nation probably completely does not know or even never have heard about it. La Galigo manuscripts are now kept in Makassar, Jakarta, and Leiden. Leiden Univeristy Library, Netherlands, owns the most complete collection. Manuscripts are placed in a special place with a certain temperature to keep them from decaying. It is such an irony, though. Its own homeland does not even have its complete manuscripts.
  • UNESCO has acknowledged La Galigo as Memory of the World under the name of Indonesia and The Netherlands in 2011. It was because the effort of Dr. Mukhlis PaEni from Indonesia and Dr. Roger Tol from The Netherlands who nominate La Galigo to be registered as Memory of The World in 2008. Three years has been passed, and finally La Galigo is in the list.
  • La Galigo has been adapted into theatrical performance by Robert Wilson, an American director and playwright. He has been interested in experimental and innovative cultural works since he began working. On his cold hands, La Galigo has become such an inspiration and performed in international stage since 2004. World admit it as one of the best theatrical performances. Its world premiere took place in Singapore, and received a round of applause. After performing in Asia, Europe, Australia, and the United States, La Galigo was finally shown in Fort Rotterdam, Makassar, for three consecutive days, April 22-24 2011.

Despite to what happened then and now to La Galigo, it is still remain the same. It is still the world hidden cultural treasure that is long for discovery and preservation.