Early history of Gowa and Talloq

Map of Sulawesi with a dot on the west coast of the southern peninsula
Map of Sulawesi with a dot on the west coast of the southern peninsula
Gowa & Talloq
The location of Gowa and Talloq in the South Sulawesi Peninsula, modern day Indonesia

The Makassar kingdom of Gowa emerged around 1300 CE as one of many agrarian chiefdoms in the Indonesian peninsula of South Sulawesi. From the sixteenth century onward, Gowa and its coastal ally Talloq[a] became the first powers to dominate most of the peninsula, following wide-ranging administrative and military reforms, including the creation of the first bureaucracy in South Sulawesi. The early history of the kingdom has been analyzed as an example of state formation.

Genealogies and archaeological evidence suggest that the Gowa dynasty was founded around 1300 in a marriage between a local woman and a chieftain of the Bajau, a nomadic maritime people. Early Gowa was a largely agrarian polity with no direct access to the coastline, whose growth was supported by a rapid increase in wet Asian rice cultivation. Talloq was founded two centuries later when a prince from Gowa fled to the coast after his defeat in a succession dispute. The coastal location of the new polity allowed it to exploit maritime trade to a greater degree than Gowa.

The early sixteenth century was a turning point in the history of both polities. Tumapaqrisiq Kallonna of Gowa conquered the coastline and forced Talloq to become Gowa's junior ally. His successor, Tunipalangga, enacted a series of reforms intended to strengthen royal authority and dominate commerce in South Sulawesi. Tunipalangga's wars of conquest were facilitated by the adoption of firearms and innovations in local weaponry which allowed Gowa's sphere of influence to reach a territorial extent unprecedented in Sulawesi history, from Minahasa to Selayar. Although the later sixteenth century witnessed setbacks to Gowa's campaign for hegemony in Sulawesi, the kingdom continued to grow in wealth and administrative complexity. The early historical period of the two kingdoms—a periodization introduced by Francis David Bulbeck and Ian Caldwell—ended around 1600 and was followed by the "early modern" period in which Gowa and Talloq converted to Islam, defeated their rivals in South Sulawesi and expanded beyond South Sulawesi to become the most important powers in eastern Indonesia.

The early history of Gowa and Talloq witnessed significant demographic and cultural changes. Verdant forests were cleared to make way for rice paddies. The population may have grown by as much as tenfold between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries, while new types of crops, clothes, and furniture were introduced into daily life. The scope of these territorial, administrative, and demographic transformations have led many scholars to conclude that Gowa underwent a transformation from a complex chiefdom to a state society in the sixteenth century, although this is not a unanimously held position.


Four main ethnic groups inhabit the Indonesian peninsula of South Sulawesi: the Mandar on the northwestern coast, the Toraja in the northern mountains, the Bugis in the lowlands and the hills south of the Mandarese and Toraja homelands, and the Makassar throughout the coast and mountains in the south.[3] Each group speaks its own language, which is further subdivided into dialects, and all four languages are members of the South Sulawesi subgroup of the Austronesian language family widely spoken throughout Southeast Asia.[3] By the early thirteenth century, the communities in South Sulawesi formed chiefdoms or small kingdoms based on swidden agriculture, whose boundaries were set by linguistic and dialectal areas.[4][5]

Despite limited influence from the Javanese empire of Majapahit on certain coastal kingdoms[6][7] and the introduction of an Indic script in the 15th century,[8] the development of early civilization in South Sulawesi appears to have been, in the words of historian Ian Caldwell, "largely unconnected to foreign technologies and ideas."[9] Like Philippine chiefdoms[10] and Polynesian societies,[11] pre-Islamic Gowa and its neighbors were based "on indigenous, 'Austronesian' categories of social and political thought" and can be contrasted with other Indonesian societies with extensive Indian cultural influence.[12][13]

Other Languages
Bahasa Indonesia: Sejarah awal Gowa dan Tallo