Over the course of a thousand years, from 600 to 1600 CE, the Java Sea was dominated by a ring of maritime kingdoms whose rulers engaged in long-distance raiding, trading, and marriage alliances with one another. And the Sun Pursued the Moon exploresMoreOver the course of a thousand years, from 600 to 1600 CE, the Java Sea was dominated by a ring of maritime kingdoms whose rulers engaged in long-distance raiding, trading, and marriage alliances with one another.
And the Sun Pursued the Moon explores the economic, political, and symbolic processes by which early Makassar communities were incorporated into this regional system. As successive empires like Srivijaya, Kediri, Majapahit, and Melaka gained hegemony over the region, they introduced different models of kingship in peripheral areas like the Makassar coast of South Sulawesi.
As each successive model of royal power gained currency, it became embedded in local myth and ritual. By the time the kings of South Sulawesi converted to Islam at the beginning of the seventeenth century, at least six such models were present in the area. Islam introduced a whole new set of competing religious and political models, adding to the symbolic complexity of the area.
To better understand the relationship between symbolic knowledge and traditional royal authority in Makassar society, Thomas Gibson draws on a wide range of sources and academic disciplines. (boat-building, navigation, agriculture, warfare) to basic social categories such as gender and hereditary rank, as well as to environmental, celestial, and cosmological phenomena. He also shows how concrete historical agents have used this symbolic infrastructure to advance their own political and ideological purposes. Gibson concludes by situating this material in relation to Islam and to life-cycle rituals.