The hull of the ships looks similar to that of a dhow while the fore-and-aft rigging reminds of western schooners, although it might be more correctly termed to resemble a ketch, as the front mast is the larger.
The large mainsails differ from western style gaff rigs though, as they often do not have a boom and the sail is not lowered with the gaff. Instead it is reefed towards the mast, much like a curtain, thus allowing the gaff to be used as deck crane in the harbour. The lower part of the mast itself may resemble a tripod or is made of two poles.
Pinisis may be 20 to 35 meters long and 350 tons in size. The masts may reach to 30 meters above the deck.
Types of Pinisi
There are two general types of Pinisi.
- Lamba or lambo. Pinisi of a long and slender built, having a straight stern. This type of Pinisi is the one currently surviving in its motorized version (PLM).
- Palari. Older type of Pinisi with a curved stern and keel. They were usually smaller than the Lamba.
The first pinisi ships are said to have been built after the example of the Dutch "Pinas" introduced to the region by the V.O.C. around 1600. These probably sported lateen or other type of sails, as the modern schooner rig did not become prominent before the 19th century.
As with many traditional ship types pinisis have been provided with motors. This has somewhat changed the appearance of the ships, that until about 1970 had largely remained pure sailing ships. Comparable to modern dhows the masts have been shortened or when not needed as deck cranes vanished completely, while the structures on deck have been enlarged for the crew and passengers, usually restricted to the aft parts though.
- Michael Kasten: The Indonesian Phinisi
- G. Adrian Horridge, The Konjo boatbuilders and the Bugis Prahus of south Sulawesi, National Maritime Museum, London 1979.
- Article by Horst Liebner about the traditional boats and ships of Indonesia.