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Located on the Ondongan Hill overlooking the beautiful Bay of Majene,West Sulawesi, the ancestors of the Mandar ethnic group in the Banggae Kingdom of Majene could not have picked a better place to bury their Kings and royal families than at this Royal Cemetery of Banggae Kings and Hadat.
Located within Pang Ali-ali Village, Banggae sub district, Majene Regency,in the province of West Sulawesi, this where the ancestors of the ancient Banggae Kingdom of Majene found their final resting place. Many suggest that the hilltop location was chosen with a reason so that these ancestors can watch over their descendents below and when they sail away to make their living in the open seas.
Although there are still no historical or archeological research conducted within the complex, it is estimated that the royal burial site dates as far back to the 16th and 17th century. The scarce historical accounts have also left a mystery as to who the many tombs at the complex belong.
However the naming of the site is said to have been given by the first king of Banggae. It is believed that He was a Hadat (community leader) from an area known as Poralle, who was appointed as Mara’ dia Salabose and Daeng Salabose (great leader) in the area known today as Majene. Given the title Puang Banggae, he later established a community which grew to be the first Kingdom of Banggae. Thus it is believed that those who are buried here are the descendants of Puang Banggae.
In total there are 480 tombs within the complex constructed of various materials such as lava stones, rocks, and wood. The tombs are decorated with geometrical ornaments, Arabic calligraphy, and even swastika symbols. The existence of these varied ornaments also leaves the mystery as to how both Islamic and Hindu symbols can be found in the same burial site. The headstone also resembles much of Javanese temple ornaments.
The Mandar, staunch defenders of their Homeland
Historic accounts note that by the 17th century the area comprised 7 coastal and 7 inland kingdoms. In order to maintain peace among themselves, the coastal kingdoms made a treaty known as the “Pitu Ba’ba Binangan” treaty, which in essence bound each to unity and peace among themelves. A similar agreement was made among the 7 inland kingdoms.
Therefore, when in 1667 the Dutch signed the Treaty of Bungaya with the king of Gowa near Makassar to give suzerainty of trade in the Celebes Straits to the Dutch, the Mandar kings and people stood united refusing to cede their trading rights to a foreign power, and staunchly defended their territory both on land as at sea.
After repeated invasions into the area, finally the Mandar were forced to accept defeat in 1907. When Indonesia declared her Independence from the Netherlands in 1945, the Mandar kings decided in 1948 to dissolve and integrate into the Republic of Indonesia.
Known for their skill and prowess in seamanship through their very speedy boats called the Sandeq, the Mandar people continue to live from the sea . They are adept sailors, but are also good farmers, and produce some of the best silk (Mandar) sarongs. Today they Mandar also exports cocoa.
One of Mandar’s most famous heroes is Baharudin Lopa, who, as Minister for Law in the cabinet of former President Soeharto fought undauntingly against corruption. (source: Wikipedia)
Today, the Royal Cemetery of Banggae Kings and Hadat has been listed as a cultural reserve dated 4th October 1999 by the Minister of Education and Culture of Indonesia, Prof.Dr.Juwono Sudarsono with the decree number 240/M/1999, following a conservation process.
The burial site is situated about 2.5Km away from downtown Majene. From Mamuju, the capital of West Sulawesi, you can go straight to Majene via the inter-city roads which will take approximately 3.5 hours drive and then turn right in the direction of Ondongan Hill.