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    The Wolio (also known as the Butonese) are the former inhabitants of an area known as the sultanate of Buton. It included the islands of Buton, Muna, Kabaena, and smaller islands in Indonesia's Southeast Sulawesi province. The Wolio speak a language, also called Wolio, that is part of the Austronesian language family. Around the fifteenth century, migrants from Johore established the kingdom of Buton, with a raja, or king, as their ruler. The sixth raja converted to Islam in 1540, making him the first sultan and his kingdom, a sultanate. A type of "caste" (social class) system was established, with the highest places reserved for nobility. The sultanate of Buton remained independent until the death of the last sultan in 1960. At that time, the sultanate was dissolved and the islands were integrated with Indonesia. The new government desired to obliterate all remnants of the aristocratic past. Festive celebrations were changed, and high-ranking Wolio could no longer proudly wear their uniforms. The Wolio 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 Wolio are also fishermen or boat-builders. However, since economic opportunities are lacking, many sail to faraway islands to earn money in commercial enterprises or manual labor jobs. Some of these never return. Today, people of Wolio origin live throughout eastern Indonesia. Seafaring is considered men's work, along with ironworking, boat building, brass and silver manufacturing, and most of working the fields. Pottery, weaving, preparing meals, doing domestic work, and managing the family's money are the women's primary jobs. Wolio 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 very few windows. Most villages have markets where woven silk, cotton, and other fabrics are traded. Many villages also have small stores, and peddlers with carts may be seen selling various items. Today, most Wolio 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. Both father and mother participate in rearing the children. Education is highly valued for both boys and girls in Wolio 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 Wolio culture. Knowledge of foreign languages is also encouraged. Through these and other skills, many Wolio are improving their positions in society. Islam was first accepted by the Wolio nobility. They shared their religious knowledge with the commoners, but they did so in a limited way that kept the villagers dependent upon them. Today, 99.9% of the Wolio are Muslim, but the belief in various supernatural beings continues to play a role in village life. Such beings include guardian spirits, harvest spirits, evil spirits who cause illness, and helpful spirits who give guidance. Ancestor spirits are thought to help their living relatives or cause illnesses, depending on the behavior of the relatives. The Wolio 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 Wolio. Sufis believe that meditation may result in the discovery of special inner knowledge direct from Allah. Reincarnation is also believed in by many, as a result of lingering Hindu beliefs.

    Source: Joshua Project