These consisted of tripang
(sea slugs), Swift bird's nest for soup on Chinese lauriat tables, tortoise shells (an environmental mortal sin today!), pearls and nacre (mother of pearl).
This trade involved eastern Indonesia's highly coveted spices (cloves, nutmeg, mace), aromatic woods (cinnamon, sandalwood), and sea products (tortoiseshell, tripang
, or beche-de-mer) (Andaya 2011).
Some commodities, like bird's nests or trepang (tripang, sea cucumbers, beche-de-mer), were of interest only to the Chinese.
Warren concludes that 'the collecting and curing of a picul of tripang or a picul of mother-of-pearl shell required the average annual labour of two men for tripang and four men for mother-of-pearl'.
'It was not uncommon', writes Warren, 'for a Taosug datu to employ several hundred fisherfolk (Samal retainers, slaves, or Samal Bajau Laut) in flotillas of fifty to one hundred small vintas, to collect tripang.' (58) The producers of marine commodities were apparently an extremely diverse group, as indeed was also the case in Makassar.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century, there was an infusion of ethnically diverse captive people among the Balangingi--mostly through demands for their labor on raiding prahus and in the tripang
and pearl fisheries--that complicated the identity of the Samal populations.
Women are now largely confined to harvesting the less valuable marine resources such as agar seaweed or beche de mer (tripang
This integration favoured Selayar's rise in the production of textiles (especially after 1600) and in the tripang trade(5) (since the 1750s).
Bontobangun's rulers seem to have successfully opted for the age-old tactic of supporting foreign merchants instead of fellow countrymen, who could more easily become a political danger.(30) Tjoa Lesang (Baba Lesang) and others were involved in the tripang trade; they had close relations with the Chinese trading community in Makassar, and they were representatives for some Dutch trading firms located there.
5 TriPang (seaslug, sea cucumber) is a delicacy in the Chinese kitchen.