Contemporary wooden boatbuilding activities are still ongoing in some places in Indonesia and in South-East Asia in general. Some processes and techniques of construction performed in the boatyards of the Bulukumba district (South Sulawesi) deepen they roots in the past and can be considered peculiar of the South-East Asian maritime culture. Those boats and boatbuilding practices are in constant change and they will rapidly disappear for ecological reasons, due to the large decrease of wood, and to respond to the more profitable requests of the market.

For this reason it is increasingly urgent to deepen our knowledge of Indonesian boats and boatbuilding, investigating the historical and contemporary evidence of people from this region, their boats, and the maritime environment, to protect this knowledge and to provide a permanent record of both the intangible and material evidence.


The team will investigate social, linguistic, material cultural aspects, and maritime traits and manifestations, using an interdisciplinary approach.

The result will be an assessment of the current state of this heritage and transmission knowledge, a detailed technical record of the different types of boats built in the region, a record of technical and cultural terms related to boatbuilding activities and a documentary describing life, rituals and activities in those boatyards. These materials will be used to promote awareness and to build up active preservation strategies for the future.


Chiara Zazzaro

Horst Liebner

Location of Research:
South Sulawesi, Indonesia

Host Institution:
Università di Napoli “L’Orientale”



Top Banner Image: A boatbuilder is working on the hull with an adze. Photo: Università di Napoli “L’Orientale and Universitas Indonesia