I could not find any evidence on this, except an ancestral story my grandparents told me. My great-grandmother was said to come from Campalagian, a village near Polewali, in West Sulawesi. They said that people used to say the village was originally a settlement of Vietnamese immigrants, thus granting me a bit of possible Vietnamese ancestry.

As I understand it, a collection of polities Champa did indeed exist through the 2nd to the 19th centuries, in what is now central and south Vietnam. I couldn't, however, find or understand relevant sources that might be useful in determining whether there was a Cham emigration to West Sulawesi.

This piece of folk etymology suggests that Arung Palakka, the fifteenth King of Bone (1667-1696 AD) was said to have sworn an oath on a hill far away from where the actual village now stands, called Campalagi, and that Campa means "sour" (there used to be an "asam" [sour] tree on that hill) and lagi means "again". A royal conflict occurred and the people of Campalagi Hill were forced to move to the region of Balanipa, where the village currently stands, and they were called "Campalagian" (people from Campalagi).

I find this a little suspicious, however, as the phonetic relationship between the taste "asam" (sour in Indonesian and Javanese) and the nominal asam tree might have come later, and externally, probably from Java. Not to mention that it requires hoops of reasoning (Campa -> sour, asam -> sour, thus Campa -> asam, and it's the same asam tree the Javanese people know).

What this might better suggest though is that there was already a Campalagi Hill during the time of Arung Palakka, which means the 17th century. It could be that the village name of Campalagian did indeed come from Campalagi Hill, but I'm not sure of where the hill's name came from.

I don't have other sources. So far, books related to this that I have only lists the history of the nearby Buginese heartland, by Christian Pelras, but stopped short of discussing the Mandar people. I can't understand Vietnamese sources. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • 2
    Welcome to the site. I have made some simple changes, please feel free to cancel them if it's not appropriate. On the "any help" bit: I wonder why you believe/say: Campa -> sour. I'm not certain on naming of Campalagian, but i thought its basis was more geographic. Since Boni Gulf in southern Sulawesi is actually on earth's fault lines, and cempa (Malay-Indonesian) means earthquake, its name is simply "more earthquakes" or derivation of it. Alternatively, In Malay, if one says Campa-lagi, it means "more Champa". Etymology not my strong suit, unfortunately.
    – J Asia
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 1:20
  • 1
    @JAsia Hi, thanks for the comment. Actually in Indonesian *cempa isn't a word — it's gempa, but I'll have to look around for a Malay or Buginese dictionary. The modern Glosbe doesn't list "cempa" though. Your alternative is also part of my suspicion regarding the relationship to Champa polities.
    – jonvyltra
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 4:51
  • 2
    Yes, my mistake on the word gempa bumi. Let me verify with some Malay friends too if you're just getting a dictionary for one word. There's a 2004 article on Chams and Malays in 17th-19th c in the Kyoto Review of SEA. The author, who specialises in Southeast Asian history, is now with University of Malaya (most respected Malaysian uni). Given the dearth of materials (as you've indicated), perhaps go direct?
    – J Asia
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 6:32
  • 1
    @JAsia wow, thank you a lot for that. I will try contacting him directly.
    – jonvyltra
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 9:26


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.