The Cia-Cia of Indonesia
The Cia-Cia, more commonly known as the South Butonese, are located on the southern tip of Buton Island, to the southeast of Sulawesi. Numbering a little more than 17,000, they are close neighbors to the Wolio (also known as the Butonese) and to the Muna. Their language, Cia-Cia, is a member of the Austronesian language family and is closely related to Wolio.
The Butonese, or Wolio, live in the area which was formerly known as the sultanate of Buton. Around the fifteenth century, immigrants from Johore established the kingdom of Buton, with a king, or raja, as the ruler. The sixth raja converted to Islam in 1540, making him the first sultan and his kingdom, a sultanate.
The sultanate of Buton remained independent until the death of the last sultan in 1960. At that time, the sultanate was dissolved and finally integrated with the nation of Indonesia. This union, however, resulted in a loss of tradition for the Butonese.
What are their lives like?
The Cia-Cia base much of their livelihood on agriculture, since the soil of the islands is very fertile. The main crops grown are corn, dry rice, and cassava. Many Cia-Cia are also fishermen or boat builders. However, since economic opportunities are lacking, many sail to faraway islands to earn money in commercial enterprise or labor. Some of these never return. Today, people of Butonese origin live throughout eastern Indonesia.
Seafaring is considered men's work, along with ironworking, boat building, brass and silver manufacturing, and most of cultivating the fields. Pottery, weaving, the preparation of meals, domestic work, and the management of the family's money are the women's primary responsibilities.
Cia-Cia houses are raised above ground and built of sturdy planks. The roofs are made of small planks, palm leaves, or iron, and the houses have only a few windows. Most villages have markets where woven silk, cotton, and other fabrics are traded. Many villages also have small stores and peddlers selling various items from their carts.
Today, most Cia-Cia marriages are monogamous (having one spouse). Although parents are involved in the arrangement of the marriages, the young people are free to choose their partners. After marriage, the couple lives with the bride's family until the husband can build his own house. Infants are reared by both father and mother alike.
Education is highly valued for both boys and girls in Butonese society. This emphasis on education has caused their literary art to flourish, resulting in the writing of books and long poems which have become a part of Butonese culture. Foreign language study is also encouraged, and many Butonese are improving their positions in society.
What are their beliefs?
Islam was first accepted by the Butonese nobility. They shared their religious knowledge with the commoners, but they did so in a limited way, keeping the villagers dependent upon them. Today, 95% of the Cia-Cia are Muslim, but the belief in various supernatural beings plays a role in village life. Such beings include guardian spirits, harvest spirits, evil spirits who cause illness, and helpful spirits who give guidance. Ancestral spirits are thought to help their living relatives or cause illnesses, depending on the behavior of the relatives. The Cia-Cia also consider nature to be the material form of God's creation and, therefore, glorify it.
Sufism (a mystic form of Islam) also exists among the Cia-Cia. Sufis believe that meditation may result in a vision of Allah. A Sufi expert is someone who believes he or she has acquired a special inner knowledge direct from Allah. Also, as a result of lingering Hindu beliefs, many still believe in reincarnation.
What are their needs?
Despite being 4% Christian, the Cia-Cia have no Christian resources available to them in their own language. Also, no missions agency is currently working among them. Intercession and evangelism are needed to firmly plant the Church among these people.
- Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to Indonesia and share Christ with the Cia-Cia.
- Pray that Christian radio broadcasts, evangelical literature, and the Jesus film will be made available to the Cia-Cia.
- Ask the Lord to soften the hearts of the Cia-Cia to the Gospel.
- Pray that God will reveal Himself to the Cia-Cia through dreams and visions.
- Pray that God will give the Cia-Cia believers boldness to share Christ with their own people.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Cia-Cia bound.
- Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through intercession.
- Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Cia-Cia church for the glory of His name!
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Cia-Cia
- Country: Indonesia
- Their language: Cia-Cia
- Largest religion:
- Christian: 4%
- Church members: 688
- Scriptures in their own language: None
- Jesus Film in their own language: None
- Christian broadcasts in their own language: None
- Mission agencies working among this people: 0
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 3,600 (20%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 13,600 (80%)
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 113
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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