Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Foreign Allies and Popularity Campaign across the Narrow Sea: What Daenerys Targaryen Can Learn from a 17th Century Exiled Prince from East Indies

Daenerys Stormborn Targaryen: First of her name; Queen of the Andals and the First Men; Protector of the Seven Kingdom; Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea; Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons; Queen of Mereen, are just a few of titles that belong to (and claimed by) the daughter of Aerys ‘Mad King’ Targaryen. She is currently on her way to claim her birth right in Westeros. We are thrilled as the Season 7 begins with a scene where the Targaryen’s dauphine – after her long and uneasy adventures in Essos – finally reach the shore of Dragonstone; a home that ironically is foreign for her. The last time Daenerys there it was stormy and Baratheon’s assassins were haunting her and Viserys’ (an older brother) life.

She was fortunate though: a Targaryen’ trustee named Ser Willem took both of them to Braavos, maybe with hopes that the war will soon be over and some old loyalists will raise against Baratheon the Usurper. Unluckily, it did not happened. The little lady lost almost everything when Ser Willem died; she was just nine. After marrying a big hairy Dothraki clan leader, losing her brother and experiencing harsh Essosian cultural and geographical landscapes, she managed to gather her own army. Just like Queen Nymeria of Rhoynar hundreds of years ago, she makes it to the shore of Essos gazing at the ocean with thousands of Dothraki horsemen and Unsullied soldiers behind her back. And just like her ancestor Aegon Targaryen, she is accompanied by three grown up dragons with breath of fire that ready to fly and bite some heads off for their mother.

The drama involving Daenerys’ claim over the Iron Throne as the descendant of a divine king who rode flying mythical beasts and how she gathers a huge amount of armies to attack Westeros -which is so jaw-dropping even according GoT universe standard – is not entirely new. Nope, even in our very own world. George R. R. Martin admits that he was inspired by The War of Roses that took place 600 years ago in England. Daenerys clearly depicts the life of Henry VII of Tudor who left England and lived in France as an exile since a very young age. When two English royal houses (York and Lancaster, obviously, Stark and Lannister) fought each other over the throne, supported by the French king, Scottish force and old Tudor loyalists Henry sailed the ocean blue and claimed the title king by “the right of conquest”.

Daenerys Targaryen
Pattern repetition has been found many times in world history. An epic about a boy that was thrown into the river by his biological mother, for example, is an exact copy of the origin story of Sargon the Akkad that happen one millennia before the birth of Moses. The Romans have somewhat another version of this story, but still revealing the same main theme: it opens with a mother abandoning her own children in the wilderness, continues with the struggle of the exiled princes to find out their identity then ends with a paradox when the exiled children become the victorious one. History (and folktales) repeats itself. A similar event or character popped up every now and then in a different era with distinct political, social and geographical context.

While Henry VII becomes the inspiration for her character, far in the East Indies an identical pattern of the life and adventure of Daenerys Targaryen can be found. The life of an exiled Bugis prince from the kingdom of Bone (read: Boh-nay) in Celebes Island resembles what she experiences with striking similarity. Despite several differences that occur in the life of these two characters, their fate is pretty much alike. In this article, I will show the likeness of Prince La Tenritata of Bone with Daenerys Targaryens based on their life history as well as their idea of revenge, justice, and power. I will also elaborate further on the strategy of La Tenritata during his conquest in South Celebes peninsula and what can Daenerys learn from his success and failure.

An Exiled Prince with Army of Foreign Allies
La Tenritata (“He who cannot be conquered”) Daeng Serang Datuk Mario ri Wawo Arung Palakka was just 9 years old when he saw his uncle, La Maddarammeng the king of Bone was attacked by the army of Gowa Empire. La Maddarammeng was labelled “mad” by his Bonean nobilities for his desire to entirely reform the practice of Islam within his realm. His obsession towards the orthodox interpretation of Islam led to the abolishment of slavery (that was common, good for business and was the zeilgeest or the spirit of that century) and the application of strict sharia practices, which threatened the old tradition. Protests were expressed by Aruppitu (literally, the seven lords) as his royal councils, but he just... ignored them. This is of course intolerable. In Bone, Aruppitu is the highest authority that responsible for watching over the king’s power and act as the judicial authority. Neglecting Aruppitu as the representative of people equals with offending Bone as a nation.

La Maddarammeng did not just stop that; he stepped beyond his sovereignty by forcing the kingdom of Wajo, Soppeng, Massepe, Sawitto, and Bacukiki to follow this form of orthodox Islam. Open conflicts were clearly up in the air. He was no longer unstoppable, hence La Maddarammeng’s mother, the dowager princess Datu Pattiro together with several nobilities decided to leave Bone for Gowa, a mighty trading empire on the west that has been an old rival of Bone. She angrily thought that her son had acted not in accordance with adat (customary law) and consequently abused the power that was trusted to him. In short, Datu Pattiro requested the Emperor of Gowa to stabilize the situation. Gowa was not just the mightiest kingdom in Celebes but also in the entire eastern part of the Indies on that century; they also loved to act like regional police. The Gowanese army then marched to Bone, waged a war that ended with the fall of La Maddarammeng.

At first, peace prevailed. Gowa let the Boneans to choose their own leader under her supervision. The adat of Bone was respected and the local nobilities were let to keep their lands and possessions. However, within weeks a rebellion was started by La Maddarammeng’s brother against Gowa, which unfortunately seen as an act of hostility. Gowa won the second battle, this time the mighty Empire decided to claim the whole Bone as her “slave”. Not just the kingdom itself that officially under the “colonization” of Gowa, the status of her people was downgraded to slave-level. Many Bonean nobilities were also brought to Gowa as prisons of war to avoid further rebellion. Among this group, the kid La Tenritata followed his family to Sombaopu (“The Worshipped Lord”), capital of Gowa, leaving Bone in ruins.

In Gowa, La Tenritata witnessed Gowanese hostile treatment toward his people. Approximately 10,000 Boneans were forced to dig canals around the fortified camps along the shore. Although the little prince was treated with respect in the court but it did not change the fact that he is a hostage. He was chosen to be the “saliva cup” bearer by the prime minister of Gowa. During royal procession, he would walk behind him holding a bronze bowl that is used by nobilities to spit out leftovers of their chewed betelpeper. After years of living in Gowa, the teenage prince had it enough when he saw his relative was punished to death by the ruthless Karaeng Karunrung, the son of prime minister of Gowa. In one royal harvest ceremony, together with several Bonean followers La Tenritata fled Sombaopu and planned for rebellion.
Ilustrasi La Tenritata Arung Palakka oleh pelukis Belanda
Gowa soldiers chased him everywhere until he then decided to sail east, just like Daenerys, to the land of Buton with a promise that he will return to free his people from slavery and claim his right at Bone. La Tenritata was also accompanied by three runaway princes from Soppeng namely Arung Bila, Arung Appanang and Datu Citta. La Tenritata was secretly supported by Buton, an old ally of Bone as well as the kingdom of Ternate in the Moluccas. The Sultanate of Ternate, for more political and economic reason, could not wait to be free from the influence of Gowa. Several Ternatean colonies such as Manado and Selayar Island were currently under the sovereignty of Gowa. Apparently, due to the influence of Gowa on the eastern part of the Indies, these two kingdoms did not dare to openly strike that empire. Instead of supporting him in that way, these two rulers provided gold and ships for La Tenritata and his followers to sail to Batavia in order to seek help from Gowa’s main enemy and a potential ally that might equal the empire in term of power: the Dutch powerful company.

After La Tenritata arrived in Batavia, he was not immediately trusted as an ally. The Dutch are traders; they do not want to gamble with empty hopes. They did not care with La Tenritata’s pride or the fate of Boneans in Celebes. All they want was to be the sole controller of the profitable commerce in the Indies, and Gowa with her port towns is the key to Island of Spices. In order to test his leadership, ability, and military skills, Dutch governor General Maetsuycker sent La Tenritata with his loyal Bugis soldiers that were known as Toangke (literally, people of Angke) together with 400 Dutch soldiers on an expedition to Pariaman, an important trading point in West Sumatera. Pariaman was under the influence of Aceh and Portuguese on that time. La Tenritata gloriously won the battle; he cut the long centuries of dependency between Pariaman and Aceh. General Maetsuycker was very happy. He agreed to collaborate with La Tenritata attacking the Gowa Empire with massive fleets as well as trained soldiers. Thus on November 1666, under the command of Admiral Cornelis Speelman, La Tenritata brought 21 Dutch war ships loaded with 1,870 soldiers sailed to Gowa.

La Tenritata and Daenerys: Even More Alikes
Now let’s talk about the similarities between Daenerys Targaryen with La Tenritata. Both of them face unique challenges but the major theme of their life story mirrors each other. Here I’ll explain you why. First of all, Daenerys claims to be the descendant of the dragon, a long story that is kept by Targaryen Dynasty and their followers since the time of Valeryan Empire. Blood legitimacy is important for her; she emphasizes her ‘divine’ origin repeatedly in front of her followers. The same reference can be found in the life of the Bonean prince too. La Tenritata that was altogether nephew and grandson of the king of Bone could trace his ancestry back to a mythical figure named Manurung ri Matajang. Manurung ri Matajang is the founder of the Bone royal house and believed to be descended from heaven. In South Celebes pre-Islamic culture, people believe that after a certain period of chaos, a god will descend from heaven and lead the human as their guide. He/she is known as Tomanurung, or he/she who descended from heaven. Once he/she complete the duty, this mythical figure will disappear unannounced. Many kings in Celebes derived their lineage to these divine founders. The descendant of this tomanurung is believed to be semi-divine with white as the color of their blood. As one of the perks of having celestial ancestors, just like Daenerys that miraculously fire-proof, La Tenritata also possesses some magical quality. According to local folklore, he is believed to be bulletproof and immune from sharp objects.

Secondly, both of them chose the direction of east as place for exile. This choice has to do with cultural as well as political history that once the Bone royal house and the Targaryen dynasty had in the past. La Tenritata headed east when he ran away from Gowanese soldiers. In the east, the old ally of Bone, the Sultan of Buton welcomed La Tenritata and provided him with ships and army. The sphere of Bone’s influence in Buton was still eminent although that kingdom is currently under Gowa. Culturally, Bone was called by the Butonese as Buton ri Ajaq (Buton on the west) while Buton is known by the Bonean as Bone ri Lauq (Bone on the east). Its also the same with Daenerys: although the Valeryan Empire fell hundreds of years ago, the Essosians still remember the heyday of that mighty freehold when they saw Daenerys. Her ancestral origin always makes a certain impression for the people of Essos. Hence, only in Essos she can expect support to gain the Targaryen throne across the sea.

During her journey, Daenerys set many Essosian free from slavery. At one point after conquering the slave masters, she was crowned as the queen of Mereen. La Tenritata on his mission to Sumatera with his loyal Toangke soldiers freed Pariaman from Aceh. Just like Daenerys, he was also crowned as Raja Ulakan, the king at Ulakan by the locals. In Daenerys case, her traditional status as Khaleesi and the Khals-slayer makes the Dothraki hordes submit to her. Strength is above all for this tribal horseman. The Unsullied in another hand follows her because she liberated them from the masters. Toangke soldiers show similarity with the Dothrakians and the Unsullied in this sense; they obey La Tenritata due to his traditional title as an “arung” or prince and they fight along his side for their freedom.

Another similar connection between Daenerys and La Tenritata can be seen from the motivations of their allies to join them. Daenerys is allied with the Ironborn navy to sail the Narrow Sea. The Greyjoys siblings are pretty clear with their motivation providing help for the foreign queen: they want Daenerys to support their claim over the Iron Islands. La Tenritata sailed back to Celebes with Dutch ships. As already mentioned above, the Dutch company’s motive to support La Tenritata is also crystal clear: they want to take over the spice trade from the Gowa Empire. Daenerys who care more about King’s Landing does not bother by the Greyjoys’ desires, hence she agrees with the term. La Tenritata’s sole purpose was to free the Boneans and rule over his own land; hence he did not find any trouble with what the Dutch wanted.

Finally, just like Daenerys who is accompanied by despised nobilities and military men such as Jorah Mormont, Dario Naharis, and Lord Barriston, La Terintata had Arung Bila, Arung Appanang and Datu Citta on his side. These three young fugitive princes swore to protect him everywhere he goes. Daenerys assembles a team of trustees and allies, including Lady Olenna Tyrell from High Garden, Ellaria Sand from Dorne and the two Greyjoy siblings, all with different motives. La Tenritata was surrounded by Admiral Speelman, the Sultan of Ternate and Buton in his side, also with various reasons. These allies provided not just troops and armada but also financial support as well as political bargain.

La Tenritata’s Strategy and what can Daenerys Learn from Him
Looking at the almost similar fate as well as the geography of both world, there are several things that Daenerys can actually learn from La Tenritata. This includes how to attack King’s Landing from the sea and how to trap it from the land not just through military strategy but also through political and psychological tactics. But first, let’s see how La Tenritata dealt with his allies and managed to win the war with popularity support.

In many local sources, La Tenritata is seen not just as the legitimate heir of Bone but also someone who has upe’ or luck. The story of his bravery in Sumatera was spread throughout Celebes, making him popular among the commoners. For the Boneans, this type of story gave hopes and ignited spirits to rebel against Gowa. For the other, especially the Gowanese, this story thrilled them. A runaway prince which has close to nothing in his pocket suddenly leading foreign armies against the mighty empire? Gossips over La Tenritata soon spread like wild fire, making Gowanese nobilities worried. Even before Speelman’s armada visible from the shore, La Tenritata has launched psychological warfare across the sea.

When La Tenritata’s army finally landed on the island, they were immediately joined by many supporters. These people were mostly commoners; some were led by local lords that voluntarily submit to the exiled prince. Some of them crying when they saw La Tenritata, believing that he is a Savior sent down from heaven. Many people including Gowa nobilities themselves believe that La Tenritata already dead in Sumatera. Now that he is still alive after many years of exile and return with massive soldiers for revenge, only God can let such thing happened. As they marched to Gowa, more and more people decided to be on his side, believing in his upe’. When Gowanese emissaries arrived at Speelman’s ship to negotiate, they were thrilled upon seeing the exiled prince in person. La Tenritata created intimidation to them by wearing Dutch military uniform with an enormous gold medallion on his neck, a gift from General Maetsuycker for his great achievement in Sumatera. Arung Belo who stood next to him wore beautiful breast plate made of copper trimmed with expensive red satin. The Gowanese emissaries returned to their lords in fear upon seeing La Tenritata physically and his war preparations.

            La Tenritata and Speelman began their expedition by launching an attack on a region south of Sombaopu known as Bantaeng. Bantaeng was an important rice-supplier for the empire. Considering the importance of Bantaeng to Gowa, La Tenritata’s soldiers burned down fields and villages, cutting Gowa from her main source of food. Approximately 100 ships on docks loaded with 6,000 tons of rice waiting to be delivered to Sombaopu vanished. The armada continued went down south, to the island of Selayar where their old ally, the Butonese already waited. Several Bugis nobilities that belong to houses under the kingdom of Bone joined La Tenritata along the way. More and more people joined him after hearing the story that he survived the death and might be the one with upe’ to win the war against Gowa. In less than a month, 1,500 extra Bugis soldiers from all over places plead their allegiance to La Tenritata. 


Map of Gowa and the surrounding area. aken from Leonard Andaya's Heritage of Arung Palakka

The unexpected thing happened when suddenly Maradia (king) of Balannipa, one of the strongest allies of Gowa came to see La Tenritata and swore his allegiance to him. La Tenritata welcomed him open heartedly, knowing that the Balannipa soldiers have reputation as great penyumpit (poisonous blowpiper) in the region. Just a day after receiving the king of Balannipa, the Sultan of Bima and the Datu of Luwu, another two important allies of Gowa, surrendered to La Tenritata. His reputation traveled so fast that local princedoms and principalities across South Celebes peninsula began to believe in his upe’. La Tenritata opened his arms widely to these local rulers. With more people in his armies, La Tenritata then launched a successful attack to expel the Gowanese armada that patrolled around the island of Buton. This war terrified everyone; it seems like La Tenritata could not be defeated.

After establishing a firm stronghold in Buton, La Tenritata sent emissaries to Bone, commanding the people to spark rebellions. He asked the Boneans to be ready by the time his soldiers set their foot on the ground of Celebes. In short, La Tenritata managed to control the situation not just through active military strategy but also by gaining popularity among the people of South Celebes. Several local lords revolted against Gowa, creating internal frictions even before the war with La Tenritata started. Many of them that already depressed with the never-ending war in the region and the dominance of Gowa in political matters decided to choose La Tenritata’s side. La Tenritata fought for his siri’ or pride as well as for the sake of common people. This motivation gave him confidence and readiness to suffer until the very last drop of blood. Gowa in another hand fought for her glory only, which making them willing to sacrifice others just to maintain their status quo.

            Daenerys should learn from La Tenritata in term of his tactics. First, she should let stories about her spread between her enemies, old allies of the Targaryens, as well as among the common people. Let her reputations as the dragon queen and her justice in Essos become the main discussions on the streets of King’s Landing. Her idea to attack and burn Highgarden as the main food source of King’s Landing as seen in episode four of Season 7 was a perfect move, mimicking La Tenritata’s attack on Bantaeng. Both Highgarden and Bantaeng are located in the south of their enemies’ capital. By continuing his campaign to south, La Tenritata gained unexpected supports from the old loyalists of his family. Daenerys is suggested to do the same, march to Dorne, and here is why.

Dorne that is located in the southmost corner of Westeros is also an old ally of the Targaryens. In fact, Daenerys has Dornish blood. Her great-great grandfather, Daeron II Targaryen married with Myriah Martell, a Dornish princess. This marriage gave birth to king Maekor II Targaryen, Aerys ‘Mad King’ Targaryen’s grandfather. Although the faith of Ellaria Sand, the current leader of Dorne, is still unknown, Dorne still has well-trained soldiers and some weapons ready for the great war. Both of these two great houses were victims of the Baratheon’s rebellion since Elia Martell the wife of Rhaegal Targaryen and her babies were brutally murdered during the attack on King’s Landing. With this assumption, it should not be too difficult for Daenerys to claim loyalty from Dorne.

In the first episode of Season 7, she impatiently expressed her willingness to attack Westeros with her Dothraki riders and loyal Unsullied soldiers. Tyrion, who acts as her Hand calmed her and insisted that she should play smart. Attacking King’s Landing with Dothraki hordes and the Unsullied forces from Essos would make her look bad before the eyes of the Westerosi. He urged her to follow a strategy or ‘smart plan’ that Tyrion has carefully planned. I will stop here, in respect of them who has not watched it.

Tyrion does make a vital point there. If in the case of La Tenritata several of his soldiers were locals and his motivation to free the Boneans from Gowa already spred throughout the peninsula, Daenerys run the risk to be seen as foreign invader with the absence of indigenous soldiers in her army. The only strategy she can do to avoid being judged as colonizer is through avoiding unnecessary movement that might damage civilians as well as other peaceful houses. She has to consider persuasive action by sending emisarries to local houses and begin diplomatic talk to gain influence. After all, she is still unknown for the Westerosi. If La Tenritata and the story of his upe’ can miraculously attract so many attention, the story of Daenerys and her dragons will undoubtfully create similar impression for these people. By gaining support from local houses, she follows La Tenritata’s tactic: creating internal frictions in the opponent side. These local lords that now swear to be under her rule can initiate guerilla attacks against the Lannisters. Let King’s Landing busy with internal rebellion, after that a series of bombardment from the shore might help Daenerys climb the palace, just like what La Tenritata did.
Map of King's Landing. Source.

That lead us to the final element of what can Daenerys learn from La Tenritata. She cannot win the open war if she only focus on naval attack. The Greyjoys are reputable sea-based fighters, Euron might have something to surprise her too from his journey travelling around the world for the past few years. Massive land based battle can potentially be harmful toward the Westerosi, realising how barbaric the Dothrakians are. Daenerys must understand that La Tenritata won the war not just because he triggered internal rebellion within Gowa; cutting the food supply; gaining popularity among the opponent’s allies; his geographical strategy is the main determining factor in this war. La Tenritata’s main focus was to surround Gowa with fear by parading around the capital with his army. La Tenritata marched north to Soppeng, Tangka River and Bone, attacking Gowa soldiers’ positions every where he goes. From the south, Speelman with his soldiers occupied Bantaeng and marched to Turatea, mountaneous region just south of Gowa. When finally Speelman made his way to Sombaopu, La Tenritata and his soldiers headed to Bantaeng, therefore encircling Gowa with full soldiers. Leaving Gowa with no way to escape. La Tenritata’s knowledge on geographic and geopolitic in South Celebes peninsula brought him victory. By placing several soldiers around King’s Landing and marched north and south to secure the surrounding area, Daenerys might also win the war mimicking La Tenritata’s strategy.

Of course there are several technicalities that prevent Daenerys to precisely adopt La Tenritata’s strategy. Problem with the white walkers for example, is the main focus of the North right now. Asking their allegiance to support Daenerys’ claim for the throne would be difficult. Even requesting Dornish help might be tricky. What is best for her is to understand the geopolitic of Westeros and read the map of interest of the local houses. Cersei could not hide inside the Red Keep for long, she has no money and people are already tired of wars. At one point there will be a revolution, a perfect time for Daenerys to proof that she is better than her.

Finally, a good suggestion for Daenerys: change won’t be possible without affirmation from the people. Their desire for freedom was the main generator that moves every revolution. La Tenritata’s glorious victory was a compilation of personal interest of foreign allies, local houses and the people in South Celebes. The latter is the most crucial one. In this world we witnessed how Bastille was stormed during French Revolution and how the Israelites started great exodus out of Egypt. All of those because the commoners believe that enough is enough. When people begin to gather in unacountable crowd and together voice out their belief, even God can only validated it. Vox populi vox Dei, thus Daenerys the daughter of Aerys Targaryen must win the heart of her people to be the real queen of Westeros, just like La Tenritata.
   
Yogyakarta,
22 August 2017
21:26

Saturday, June 3, 2017

La Galigo yang ditulis oleh perempuan


            Tahun lalu, di suatu musim gugur saya meninggalkan Leiden bersama seorang penulis muda asal Makassar untuk menemui Sirtjo Koolhof, seorang pakar lagaligologi yang bermukim di kota Deventer. Pak Sirtjo, demikian saya menyapa beliau, sudah malang-melintang di dunia penelaahan epos pra-Islam bangsa Bugis dari Sulawesi Selatan itu. Beliau kerap menjadi pembicara di berbagai seminar baik lokal maupun internasional sehubungan dengan La Galigo maupun karya-karya sastra Bugis tradisional lainnya. Kenalan saya yang seorang penulis ini sedang dalam tahap pengumpulan bahan-bahan untuk karyanya selanjutnya. Ia sengaja datang ke Belanda untuk mengakses arsip-arsip yang berhubungan dengan kaum bissu di era gerombolan DI/TII pimpinan Kahar Muzakkar membayang-bayangi jazirah Sulawesi Selatan pada dekade 60-an. Pak Sirtjo dan koleksi buku-bukunya yang lengkap dipercaya dapat membantu menghayati tragedi tersebut.
 
Pak Sirtjo saat menjelaskan isi salah satu naskah La Galigo di Middelburg, Belanda
            Di tengah obrolan santai mengenai sejarah Sulawesi Selatan, seperti biasa saya dan Pak Sirtjo terjebak diskusi mengenai naskah La Galigo. Saat itu beliau, diselingi seruputan-seruputan kecil pada cangkir tehnya, mengatakan bahwa ada kemungkinan epos La Galigo itu dikarang oleh perempuan. Membaca La Galigo katanya seperti membaca kisah yang dari gayanya bisa dinisbatkan kepada seorang perempuan. Sebenarnya ini tidak mengherankan. Toh, merupakan fakta bahwa pada proses penyalinan dan penghidupan kembali epos ini ada banyak sekali tangan-tangan perempuan yang terlibat di dalamnya. Penyalin naskah La Galigo terpanjang di dunia yang disimpan oleh Perpustakaan Universitas Leiden saja adalah seorang bangsawan wanita terpelajar asal negeri Tanete. Begitu pula dengan passureq (pelantun lisan La Galigo) yang masih melestarikan tradisi menyanyikan naskah ini, kebanyakan dari mereka adalah perempuan-perempuan tua yang kemudian menurunkan pula kemampuan tersebut kepada generasi perempuan berikutnya. Salah satunya yang paling terkenal dan sering dijadikan narasumber untuk penelitian tradisi lisan ialah Indoq Mase dari kabupaten Wajo.

Ditulis oleh perempuan (?)
Ada beberapa faktor yang mendasari pertimbangan Pak Sirtjo. Pertama, perempuan memiliki akses khusus terhadap epos ini, akses yang tidak dimiliki kaum pria malah ujar beliau. Konon di zaman kerajaan Bugis kuno dulu, perempuan adalah pemegang kontrol utama untuk urusan rumah tangga istana. Perempuan bertanggungjawab pula untuk mempersiapkan upacara-upacara serta ritual-ritual pelengkap lainnya. Pengetahuan yang mereka miliki ini mahal harganya, sebagaimana pengetahuan untuk melayarkan kapal yang hanya dikuasai oleh kaum pria. Itulah sebabnya apabila kita membaca beragam naskah La Galigo, detail terkait kehidupan istana mulai dari tata krama, upacara-upacara adat yang dilangsungkan hingga perlengkapan-perlengkapannya disebutkan secara seksama. Terkadang satu naskah saja bisa menghabiskan berbaris-baris kalimat hanya untuk menyebutkan benda-benda maupun persiapan sebuah upacara di dalam istana. Diterakannya detail mengenai upacara serta kehidupan di istana menunjukkan bahwa epos ini harusnya diciptakan oleh seseorang yang amat familiar dengan seluruh tradisi tersebut.  

Di satu sisi, yang juga menjadi alasan kedua, kurangnya pengetahuan si pengarang terhadap kehidupan di laut merupakan salah satu faktor penting penunjang nuansa femininitas dalam epos ini. La Galigo tidak dapat dijadikan acuan sebagai peta maritim maupun pedoman untuk berlayar, sebab meskipun mengambil laut sebagai salah satu latarnya serta menyebut nama-nama daerah yang hanya bisa dijangkau via laut (seperti Gima, Taranati, Jawa ri Aseq/Lauq, Sunra, Majapaiq, Wolio, dan seterusnya) terdapat banyak kesalahan teknis serta gambaran yang kurang tepat terhadap kehidupan laut di dalamnya. Seorang peneliti maritim asal Jerman bernama Horst Liebner pernah membuat tulisan yang berupaya untuk merekonstruksi pelayaran Battara Lattu dari Luwu menuju ke negeri Tompoq Tikkaq, tempat terbitnya matahari. Usahanya itu berujung dengan kesimpulan bahwa pelayaran tersebut sejatinya hanyalah khayalan. Deskripsi mengenai arah angin maupun bentuk kapal, menurutnya tidak tepat. Sebagaimana tidak tepatnya menyebut La Galigo sebagai sebuah naskah sejarah, demikian pula halnya La Galigo sebagai sebuah manual pelayaran. Liebner bahkan menyebutkan lebih jauh bahwa perahu-perahu yang diceritakan di dalam La Galigo sejatinya merupakan “perahu mimpi” yang terinspirasi dari perahu bercadik ukuran kecil yang biasa digunakan nelayan.

Kedekatan perempuan bangsawan dengan dunia literasi pun patut pula diperhitungkan sebagai salah satu faktor lainnya. Di saat pangeran-pangeran diajarkan cara berburu maupun berbasa-basi pada jamuan-jamuan dengan penguasa-penguasa daerah, perempuan-perempuan di istana tercipta menjadi golongan elite intelektual yang menguasai tidak hanya seni-seni halus melainkan juga literatur dan filsafat. Peran perempuan yang dominan di dalam istana membuat mereka banyak menghabiskan waktu dengan pustaka kerajaan yang menyimpan kearifan lokal dari masa lalu. Tidak heran jika Colliq PujiE sang penyalin naskah La Galigo yang diberi amanat untuk mengurusi hal-ihwal persuratan diplomatis oleh raja Tanete juga menghasilkan banyak karya sastra. Beberapa di antaranya yang masih dikenang antara lain kanon sejarah Tanete (yang kemudian diterjemahkan ke dalam Bahasa Belanda oleh B.F. Matthes, si pengumpul naskah La Galigo) dan puisi-puisi yang ditulis menggunakan aksara baru ciptaannya sendiri. Melalui tangan-tangan perempuan inilah La Galigo hidup. 
 
Naskah La Galigo koleksi Perpustakaan Universitas Leiden
Teori Pak Sirtjo tersebut tentu membuat saya tenggelam dalam perenungan. Selama ini ada yang mengira-ngira bahwa epos tersebut merupakan karya I La Galigo, nama salah satu karakter yang disebut di dalamnya. Pendapat tersebut didasari oleh sugesti Raffles di History of Java. Akan tetapi banyak yang meragukan teori tersebut. Pengarang epos La Galigo belum diketahui siapa hingga hari ini, bisa jadi orang atau sekelompok orang dan bisa saja laki-laki atau perempuan. Jika pendapat Pak Sirtjo benar maka kemungkinan La Galigo tidak hanya diciptakan oleh seorang perempuan. 

Menurut saya La Galigo ialah sebuah tradisi yang dikuasai oleh golongan perempuan. Tradisi ini dimanfaatkan untuk melanggengkan kekuasaan mereka di tengah transisi masyarakat pertanian tradisional menuju ke perdagangan yang lebih didominasi oleh kaum pria. Kuasa atas agama dan pemerintahan, dua hal pokok di tengah kehidupan bermasyarakat, harus dipertahankan oleh mereka. La Galigo pun menjadi media legitimasi mereka dalam menancapkan klaim perempuan di khazanah kebudayaan Bugis agar tidak ditekan oleh dominasi pria. Jika tidak demikian sedari awalnya, setidaknya karakter feminin La Galigo telah ada pada bentuknya yang kita terima hari ini. Apakah ada hubungan antara La Galigo yang disakralkan dan dijaga oleh komunitas perempuan dengan kedatangan kitab suci agama baru yang mulai mengambil alih fungsi religiusnya? Yang jelas, kehadiran agama baru memang berhasil menyingkirkan kepercayaan lokal ke pedalaman dan merubah pembacaan ayat-ayat La Galigo menjadi ayat-ayat Alquran.

Dewi-dewi agung di langit dan di dasar laut
Ada banyak bahasan menarik mengenai ketokohan perempuan di dalam La Galigo. Salah satunya yang muncul di episode paling awal epos ini ialah kedudukan perempuan yang diwakili oleh Datu Palinge. Dalam pantheon Bugis kuno beliau dianggap sejajar dengan sang suami, Datu PatotoE, Dewa Penguasa Takdir. Dalam menjalankan perannya sebagai penguasa langit, Datu PatotoE tidak pernah terpisah dari Datu Palinge, Dewi Pembentuk Kehidupan. Fragmen-fragmen yang menceritakan mengenai kehidupan di langit selalu menyebut Datu PatotoE dan Datu Palinge duduk sebelah-menyebelah. Datu Palinge berperan aktif memberikan petuah dan nasihat kepada sang suami. Sang suami pun sebaliknya, tak dapat membuat sebuah keputusan tanpa melalui persetujuan sang istri. Melalui penggambaran keduanya, La Galigo menjelaskan bahwa kekuatan maskulin langit tak dapat lepas dari entitas ruh feminin mahakuasa yang menyertainya. Selintas persatuan antara Datu PatotoE dan Datu Palinge ini mirip dengan konsep shakti dalam tradisi Hindu, namun berbeda. Power balance yang direpresentasikan dalam kisah-kisah La Galigo ini bukanlah pernyataan bahwa energi feminin merupakan baterai kekuatan maskulin (seperti halnya Durga bagi Siwa) melainkan sebuah penegasan bahwa kuasa ilahiah baru bisa hadir apabila elemen maskulin dan femininnya mampu eksis berdampingan secara konstan

Dunia bawah laut (Toddang Toja atau Perettiwi) yang dipimpin oleh sepasang dewa-dewi adikuasa bernama Guru ri Selleq dan Sinauq Toja pun demikian. Guru ri Selleq merupakan kembaran laki-laki Datu Palinge sedangkan Sinauq Toja ialah kembaran perempuan Datu PatotoE. Sebagaimana kedua saudara mereka di langit, pasangan penguasa negeri bawah laut ini selalu disebutkan bersamaan, duduk sebelah-menyebelah. Di kerajaan bawah laut ini kita dapat menyaksikan adanya pembagian peran yang menarik: Guru ri Selleq sebagai 'pemelihara selat' menguasai laut permukaan sedangkan istrinya yang bersemayam di Istana Besi menguasai bahagian terdalam laut. Laut permukaan yang ramai dilayari oleh manusia memuja Guru ri Selleq agar menjamin keamanan mereka melaut. Laut dalam yang menyimpan hasil laut serta harta karun diberikan persembahan oleh manusia agar kiranya sang ibu Sinauq Toja berkenan membagi kasih sayangnya kepada mereka. Perasaan aman dari Guru ri Selleq dan kasih sayang dari Sinauq Toja membentuk jiwa-jiwa pelaut Bugis yang tak takut mengarungi samudera. Pembagian kekuasaan atas laut luar dan laut dalam ini memimik konsepsi ruang dalam kehidupan keluarga Bugis sehari-hari dimana kaum lelaki menguasai bagian ruang tamu hingga ke halaman rumah (luar) sedangkan kaum perempuan bertanggungjawab atas bilik-bilik hingga ke dapur (dalam).

Selain pantheon lokal dan penguasa-penguasa perempuan yang diilustrasikan sejajar dengan counterpart pria mereka, unsur-unsur feminin yang diserap dari kebudayaan lain pun masuk ke dalam La Galigo dengan nada matriarki yang kental. Mitos dewi padi yang kemungkinan besar diadopsi dari Jawa hidup dalam mitologi Bugis kuno sebagai mitos Sangiang Serri We Oddang Riwu. Apabila di versi Babad Tanah Jawi sang dewi padi menjadi ambisi birahi Batara Guru dan Kala Gumarang, maka di siklus La Galigo ia digambarkan sebagai reinkarnasi atas bayi perempuan pasangan penguasa langit yang meninggal segera setelah dilahirkan. Dari kuburan Sangiang Serri muncul tumbuhan padi serta tanaman makanan lainnya. Tumbuhan padi ini oleh masyarakat Bugis diagungkan dan dipuja sedemikian rupa, dirumahkan pada sebuah tempat khusus bernama rakkeyang yang terletak di atas loteng, titik tertinggi rumah panggung mereka. Setiap rumah memiliki sanctuary untuk roh feminin yang dipercaya menyediakan pangan, kehangatan serta kemakmuran di dalam keluarga tersebut. Rakkeyang ini tidak saja menjadi kuil bagi Sangiang Serri, ia juga mempunyai fungsi sebagai ruang tidur anak-anak gadis Bugis yang belum menikah. 
   
Penguasa-penguasa matriarki dan imam-imam perempuan dunia tengah
            Di Dunia Tengah, La Galigo menceritakan peran yang dimainkan oleh perempuan dalam beraneka-ragam skenario. Ada kerajaan-kerajaan bermodel matriarki seperti Alecina yang dipimpin oleh We Tenriabang. We Tenriabang tidak hanya menjalankan pemerintahan dalam negeri namun juga aktif berpartisipasi mengurus hubungan internasional serta berada di garda terdepan pada peperangan-peperangan. Di negeri Alecina ini sepertinya sudah menjadi tradisi bahwa kehendak perempuan memang lebih memiliki arti ketimbang pria. I We Cudai, putri mahkota Alecina yang dilamar Sawerigading sang protagonis utama dalam epos ini contohnya, digambarkan sebagai perempuan berkarakter keras yang punya kontrol atas kebijakan-kebijakan yang dikeluarkan oleh Opunna Cina. I We Cudai yang mempunyai nama lain “Daeng Risompa” (Puan yang disembah) ini menjadi sebab hangus terbakarnya negeri Alecina oleh tentara Sawerigading karena menolak dijodohkan dengan pria asing dari Luwu tersebut. Opunna Cina yang berkedudukan sebagai sovereign tertinggi bahkan tidak dapat membujuk, memerintah atau memaksa sang putri untuk menuruti kemauannya. Gelar Opunna Cina yang secara simultan digunakan oleh pasangan suami-istri La Sattumpugi dan We Tenriabang juga mengilustrasikan fleksibilitas perspektif dalam memandang tokoh pemimpin yang tidak didasari oleh spesifikasi gender tertentu seperti pada istilah “raja” dan “ratu”. 

            Di episode lain, kita menemukan tokoh-tokoh perempuan mandiri yang juga memiliki kontrol penuh atas diri dan perbuatan mereka. Di negeri Pujananti, I La Galigo putra Sawerigading menikahi seorang putri lokal bernama Karaeng Tompoq. Tidak berapa lama menetap di sana, I La Galigo meneruskan pelayaran untuk menengok kakek-neneknya di negeri Luwu. Setelah berbulan-bulan lamanya tidak mendengarkan kabar dari sang suami, Karaeng Tompoq beserta istri-istri pelaut yang menjadi awak kapal I La Galigo pun memutuskan untuk menyamar menjadi laki-laki dan berlayar keliling dunia mencari suami-suami mereka. Ekspedisi tersebut berakhir di negeri Alecina saat mereka bertemu. I La Galigo yang tidak mengenali sang istri dalam wujud laki-laki tersebut terlibat perkelahian dengannya. Meskipun selalu menang di setiap pertarungan-pertarungan yang ia hadapi sebelumnya, anehnya kali ini I La Galigo tidak dapat mengalahkan musuh baru yang terlihat tidak asing tersebut. Baru setelah Karaeng Tompoq beserta para pengikutnya menunjukkan wujud asli mereka maka I La Galigo dan awak kapalnya pun tergelak melihat kesungguhan istri-istri mereka tersebut dalam menunjukkan komitmen serta kekuatan yang sebenarnya jauh melebihi kaum pria. 

            Dari episode-episode di atas, perempuan jelas tidak tampil seperti putri yang dikutuk dan harus diselamatkan oleh pangeran tampan seperti halnya dongeng-dongeng patriarkis di Barat pada kurun yang kurang-lebih tidak terlalu jauh terpisah. Pada dasarnya masyarakat Bugis adalah kaum yang bilateral. Mereka tidak berdasar kepada aturan-aturan patriarkal namun juga tidak berbasis kekuatan matriarki. Seiring dengan berlalunya zaman, terutama setelah agama kemudian menempatkan bahwasanya kaum pria harus memimpin sebagai imam, maka fungsi spiritual perempuan pun terpinggirkan. 

Keunikan lain dari budaya Bugis yang tidak direkam oleh La Galigo namun erat kaitannya dengan perempuan ialah keberadaan lima gender. Bissu adalah istilah yang menjadi titik penghubung antara tradisi Bugis kuno dengan Bugis kontemporer. Hari ini kita mengenal sebutan bissu untuk gender kelima dalam kebudayaan Bugis selain orowane (laki-laki), makkunrai (perempuan), calabai (“perempuan” bertubuh lelaki) dan calalai (“lelaki” bertubuh perempuan). Bissu yang tidak diasosiasikan terhadap salah satu dari keempat gender lainnya ini dihormati oleh masyarakat sebagai pendeta kepercayaan tradisional Bugis. Dulu, kaum bissu amat dihargai karena dipercaya sebagai perantara antara dewa dan manusia, bahkan setelah agama Islam diterima di Sulawesi Selatan. Hari ini golongan bissu terdiri atas sekelompok calabai (dan beberapa orang calalai) yang menguasai ritual serta upacara-upacara adat di daerah. Bissu-bissu ini dalam keseharian mereka ada yang berprofesi sebagai tukang salon maupun perias pengantin, sehingga masyarakat sendiri melihat mereka tak lebih dari sekedar wadam (wanita adam). 

Bergantungnya identitas bissu pada atribut calabai dan calalai tentu saja menarik sebab fenomena tersebut sebenarnya tidak sesuai dengan tradisi La Galigo. Sejatinya, epos tersebut menyebutkan bissu-bissu berjenis kelamin perempuan, bukan calabai. Bissu yang muncul dari kalangan calabai atau calalai ialah fenomena yang muncul saat masyarakat Bugis memasuki era klasik atau era post-La Galigo. Laporan Portugis dari abad ke-16 memang menyebutkan kehadiran pendeta lelaki yang berdandan seperti perempuan serta berperilaku homoseksual di tengah masyarakat Bugis, namun bissu perempuan tidak disebutkan sama sekali.

Bissu-bissu yang diceritakan di dalam epos La Galigo ialah putri-putri bangsawan yang dipilih oleh langit untuk menjadi pasangan bangsa dewa sehingga mereka sering mengalami trance atau kesurupan saat berkomunikasi dengan dunia atas. Dalam kondisi trance tersebut mereka biasanya akan menari atau menyampaikan pesan dari langit. Salah satu contoh bissu yang terkenal ialah saudari kembar Sawerigading yang ingin ia nikahi sendiri, We Tenri Abeng. Saat Sawerigading berlayar ke Alecina, We Tenri Abeng dijemput pula naik ke atas langit untuk menikah dengan Rammang ri Langiq, pasangan dewanya. We Tenri Dio, anak perempuan Sawerigading hasil pernikahannya dengan We Cudai juga merupakan salah satu bissu yang memainkan peranan penting sebab dipercaya sebagai leluhur bangsa Selayar dalam versi lisan.

Lalu, apa yang menyebabkan hingga bissu tidak lagi “dijabat” oleh perempuan? Itulah misteri yang belum terpecahkan dan membutuhkan lebih banyak lagi penelusuran. Hipotesa sementara saya ialah karena kaum perempuan kehilangan dominasi mereka terhadap La Galigo dan spiritualisme lokal, tergantikan oleh kepercayaan monoteis yang memperkenalkan strukturnya sendiri. Namun toh ini juga tidak dapat memberikan jawaban terhadap kenyataan bahwa mengapa kemudian golongan transgender yang mengambil alih posisi tersebut dari tangan perempuan. Apakah ada tawar-menawar untuk memperbolehkan calabai menjadi imam kepercayaan tradisional sepanjang bukan perempuan yang menjabatnya? 

Di Sulawesi Selatan sendiri sekitar tahun 80-an pernah terjadi fenomena yang cukup unik terkait dengan pengambilalihan peran perempuan oleh kaum calabai. Bangkitnya semangat kesalehan di daerah membuat gerak perempuan di ruang publik menjadi terbatas. Aliran-aliran yang membawa Islam “versi murni” merasuk ke pedesaan dan perlahan merubah cara pandang masyarakat tradisional terhadap femininitas. Perempuan pun sebisa mungkin tidak terjun ke dunia luar, utamanya dunia hiburan. Saat atraksi-atraksi di pasar malam mulai dimarakkan dengan pertunjukan dangdut erotis, beberapa daerah justru melakukan negoisasi moral untuk melindungi kaum perempuan mereka dari tindakan-tindakan yang tidak senonoh dengan mempopulerkan calabai sebagai bintang panggung. Kehadiran calabai dianggap sebagai alternatif yang paling baik untuk mengganti fungsi perempuan di pentas pasar malam. Dalam sekejap maka calabai-calabai ini menjadi idola warga desa: kaum pria tidak perlu merasa risih untuk menyiul-siulinya sementara kaum hawa pun terhibur dengan gerakan-gerakan vulgar yang mereka lakukan saat menari. Liuk-liukkan tubuh yang terlarang untuk mereka lakukan di hadapan umum. Calabai-calabai ini kemudian menjadi ikon: mereka adalah biduan yang menghibur dan juga komoditas seksual bagi para lelaki yang ingin tetap mempertahankan moralitas religius mereka tanpa perlu merasa berdosa karena melakukannya dengan sesama jenis. Apakah proses pergantian peran bissu dari perempuan (sebagaimana yang diceritakan di dalam La Galigo) menjadi calabai dan calalai juga menyembunyikan realita yang sama? Entahlah. Yang jelas hari ini dewa-dewa sudah tak lagi memilih tubuh perempuan-perempuan sebagai rumah mereka. Mereka mengganti inang-inang lama itu dengan tubuh-tubuh lelaki berpakaian perempuan yang menari-nari sambil mengangkat keris. 

Kesimpulannya, apakah La Galigo ditulis oleh perempuan atau sekelompok perempuan, itu masih menjadi misteri seperti halnya peran laki-laki dalam penciptaan epos ini. Satu hal yang pasti, jejak-jejak perempuan sebagai pemegang fungsi vital dalam praktek-praktek pemerintahan maupun spiritualisme Bugis kuno masih dapat kita lacak dari fragmen-fragmennya. Rekonstruksi perspektif atas epos ini dapat memberikan kita gambaran bahwa jazirah Sulawesi Selatan telah mengalami dinamika politik serta revolusi ideologi yang cukup konstan dan massalnya sifatnya selama abad-abad yang tidak direkam oleh sejarah dan setelahnya.

Perubahan-perubahan terus terjadi selama masa sebelum masuknya Islam; setelah Islam diinstitusionalisasikan sebagai agama rakyat; ketika kekuasaan kolonial mulai efektif; setelah Indonesia merdeka dan saat globalisasi mengakrabi kehidupan masyarakatnya. Hari ini saat La Galigo sudah tidak lagi signifikan dalam keseharian akar rumput masyarakat Bugis selain sebagai tradisi atau warisan budaya, narasi perempuan sebagai dewi, penguasa maupun imam dikalahkan oleh cerita-cerita pahit mengenai mahalnya harga panaiq alias mahar nikah yang harus dibayarkan oleh pengantin pria kepada keluarga pengantin wanita. Kekuasaan lelaki menjadi semakin kuat sehingga tidak heran jika ikon yang ditonjolkan dalam pamflet-pamflet pariwisata Sulawesi Selatan ialah kejantanan pria-pria Bugis dalam mengarungi samudera ketimbang menampilkan wujud perempuan-perempuan mandiri yang melestarikan tradisi literasi dan spiritualisme leluhur mereka.

Makassar,
3 Juni 2017