The Kaili people are an indigenous ethnic group residing primarily in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. Numbering approximately 400,000 individuals, they have a rich cultural heritage that encompasses a unique set of beliefs, mythology, and rituals. This article will provide an overview of these aspects, focusing on the deities, heroes, and mythological creatures of the Kaili people's belief system.


The Kaili people are predominantly animistic, with their belief system revolving around the worship of numerous deities. These deities are often associated with specific natural phenomena or elements, reflecting the Kaili people's deep connection with their natural environment. Some of the principal deities in their pantheon include:

  • Pue Mpanua: Known as the Creator God, Pue Mpanua is considered the supreme deity in Kaili mythology. He is responsible for the creation of the world, the heavens, and all living creatures. Pue Mpanua is also believed to have established the fundamental moral and social codes for human society.

  • Tadulako: The God of the Sky, Tadulako is associated with the sun, rain, and wind. He is believed to govern the weather, which is of vital importance to the Kaili people's agricultural lifestyle. Tadulako is often invoked in rituals related to agriculture and weather, such as prayers for a bountiful harvest or protection from natural disasters.

  • Mboera: The Goddess of the Earth, Mboera is revered as the nurturing mother figure who provides sustenance for all living beings. She is also associated with fertility, and rituals invoking her blessings are performed during important life events such as marriage and childbirth.

  • Pamali: The God of War and Protector of the Kaili people, Pamali is invoked for strength, courage, and protection in times of conflict. Additionally, he is believed to safeguard the Kaili people's cultural heritage and ensure its preservation.

Heroes and Mythological Creatures

Kaili mythology is replete with heroes and mythical creatures, which often serve as important figures in their oral tradition and folklore. Some notable examples include:

  • Tomanurung: A legendary hero in Kaili mythology, Tomanurung is said to have descended from the heavens to teach the Kaili people the arts of agriculture, craftsmanship, and social organization. His story highlights the importance of knowledge and wisdom in Kaili society.

  • Barata and Sura: These two mythical creatures are believed to be the guardians of the Kaili people's ancestral spirits. Barata is depicted as a giant bird, while Sura takes the form of a massive snake. They serve as symbols of the spiritual connection between the living and the deceased, as well as the need for balance between opposing forces in the natural world.


Rituals play a central role in Kaili culture, reinforcing their beliefs and providing a means to maintain harmony within their society and with the natural world. Some key rituals include:

  • Tampo Allo: This annual ritual involves the construction of a sacred wooden pole, known as the Tampo Allo, to honor Pue Mpanua and ensure the continued prosperity of the Kaili people. During the ceremony, offerings are made to Pue Mpanua, and traditional dances and songs are performed to seek his blessings.

  • Datu: A healing ritual, Datu is performed by a shaman, or traditional healer, to cure illnesses and restore balance to the individual's physical and spiritual well-being. The shaman may use a variety of techniques, such as massage, herbal remedies, and divination, to diagnose and treat the patient's condition.

  • Mekare-kare: A traditional martial arts competition, Mekare-kare is performed during the celebration of the Kaili people's new year. The competition involves two participants, each armed with a rattan shield and whip, engaging in a mock fight to demonstrate their bravery and skill. The ritual serves as a means to reinforce the importance of courage and martial prowess in Kaili society.

Unique Beliefs

One noteworthy aspect of Kaili belief is their concept of ngarot, which refers to the practice of maintaining balance and harmony within the natural world. Ngarot emphasizes the interdependence between humans and their environment, stressing the need for responsible stewardship of the land and its resources. This belief has led to the Kaili people's longstanding tradition of sustainable agriculture, which involves the use of traditional methods and the preservation of natural ecosystems.