The Indonesian island of Sulawesi inhabited by five human species

April 18, 2021
The Bugis people have names for five different gender classifications, and they define five different ways of being in the world (in terms of gender). The Bugis people have names for five different gender classifications, and they define five different ways of being in the world (in terms of gender).

Daily Times, United Arab Emirates: - The Indonesian island of Sulawesi, in the shape of a starfish, lies in the western Pacific Ocean, and has four emerald ends that extend to three seas, namely Celebes, Molucca and Flores.

On its southwestern tip lies the coastal city of Makassar, which is looming over smog, an important commercial center and Indonesia's eastern gateway to the world.

It is there on this island that the Bugis reside, a marine community that is distinguished by its recognition of five different sexual forms of human beings.

"The Bugis people have names for five different gender classifications, and they define five different ways of being in the world (in terms of gender)," explains Sharen Graham Davies, an anthropologist at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

The Bugis are the largest ethnic group in South Sulawesi. They live in Makassar and their number is only around 6 million in a country of 270 million people.

In Bugis society, the word "McConray" denotes the female gender, and "Oroani" denotes the male sex, and they agree with the Western definition in this regard.

While the word "kalalai" is used to describe the gender identity of someone who is born with a female body, she performs a traditionally male role, and may wear shirts and pants, smoke cigarettes, cut her hair and perform manual labor.

As for the word "calabai", it refers to someone who is born with a male body, but who plays female roles, wears dresses, uses cosmetics, and lengthens his hair.

Many Calabai work in beauty salons, and we help plan weddings and perform dances at them.

The fifth gender in Bugis is "biso", which is neither male nor female, but represents the entirety of the gender spectrum.

Similar to the "Kalabai" and "Kalalai" categories, the "peso" express their identity through dress: they are often adorned with flowers, which are traditionally a feminine symbol, but at the same time they carry the Indonesian "Keres" dagger traditionally associated with men.

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