Reviving Indonesia’s Ancient Shipbuilding Traditions

Indonesia’s majestic Phinisi yachts hark back to a bygone era with their long bowsprits, twin masts and billowing sails. Hand-hewn using tropical hardwoods from the forests of Sulawesi, Phinisis were used as freight ships centuries ago, carrying exotic spices, sandalwood and textiles through the ancient spice route.

Sturdy enough to sail across oceans, Phinisi yachts would take years to construct, a labour-intensive and complex process that was guided by ritual. For the makers—Indonesia’s seafaring Bugis tribe—the art of boat building was sacred and deeply spiritual, an inherited skill that connected the community and generations of craftsmen.

In December 2017, UNESCO recognised South Sulawesi’s hand-crafted sailing yachts as an ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ and their unique legacy lives on today in our modern Phinisi yachts, repurposed for cruising, diving and recreation.


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