In Singapore today, the Bugis have given their name to an infamous street, immortalized in a movie; a couple of malls, a book, and an MRT station. According to the Malay Heritage Center, the Bugis had a rich culture and strong fluid identity. They were a seafaring nation from South Sulawesi and many had made Singapore their home. Even though they had a reputation for being pirates, most were traders and businessmen.
Wonder of Bugis was created by Singapore Memories to reflect the spiritual and magical nature of the Bugis homes and ceremonies and their exotic smells. It is a reflection of the aromas of their celebrations.
The Bugis have 5 genders, and this has nothing to do with strict categories but more with the role that each person plays in society. The identities include the normal male and normal female, as society defines these roles, but also include the feminine male (Calabai), masculine female (calai) and bissu, an androgynous person who transcends everything else.
The bissu were the ones chosen to perform spiritual and magical roles.
The original area where that Sir Stamford Raffles allotted to the Bugis on his arrival in Singapore was beside the Rochor Kallang River, a little further away to what is known as Bugis Village today. The settlement ran all the way to the Kampong Glam and a canal used to run through the area so that the Bugis could park their trading boats. The original Bugis Street is part of the Bugis Village today.
Before the Second World War Bugis Village was famous for its Japanese prostitutes who plied their trade there. The 109 brothels had a total of 633 Karauki-san, as they were known. Overcrowding led to health issues and disease spread and the area had to be zoned off, forcing the powers at the time to tear down the houses and to rebuild in a form of slum clearance that linked the rights of the citizen to those of the owner.
The infamous Bugis Street
Bugis Street was internationally renowned in the 1950s to 1980s because it was the nightly gathering place of transvestites and transsexuals.
However, new developments in the area in the 1980s have turned it into a vibrant shopping area with restaurants and night clubs, bringing the colorful and unique era for Singapore to an end.
The Bugis community in Singapore remains strong but unfortunately, some of their traditions, especially those held at weddings are slowly dying. We can only hope that these will not be forgotten.
Bugis ceremonies were filled with the smells of exotic woods, Ylang-Ylang, Palisander, and Thuja. These trees offer their special woody and floral aromas to an exotic room fragrance that captures the hopes that people have to transcend spiritual boundaries.
Wonder of Bugis is the room fragrance created to uphold the memories of the Bugis people. A unique corporate gift, Wonder of Bugis is the perfect souvenir, memories of smells lined to vibrant Singapore and it rich cultural history.