From Academic Kids

Srivijaya (-sri meaning glitters or radiant, -jaya meaning success or excellence) was an ancient kingdom based on the island of Sumatra which influenced much of the Malay Archipelago. Records of its beginning are scarce, and estimates are from the 200s to the 500s. It ceased to exist around 1400.

Missing image
Pagoda in Srivijaya style in Chaiya, Thailand


Around 500 the roots of Srivijaya developed around present-day Palembang, around the year 600 Chinese records mention two kingdoms on Sumatra based at Jambi and Palembang, as well as three kingdoms on Java.

Srivijaya was centered in the coastal trading center of what is now Palembang. The empire was a thalassocracy and didn't extend its influence far beyond the coastal areas of the islands of Southeast Asia. Although historical records and archaeological evidence are scarce, it appears that by the seventh century, Srivijaya established suzerainty over large areas of Sumatra, western Java, and much of the Malay Peninsula. Dominating the Malacca and Sunda straits, Srivijaya controlled the both Spice Route traffic and local trade, charging a toll on passing ships, and remained a formidable sea power until the thirteenth century. Serving as an entrept for Chinese, Indonesian, and Indian markets, the port of Palembang, accessible from the coast by way of a river, accumulated great wealth.

A stronghold of Mahayana Buddhism, Srivijaya attracted pilgrims and scholars from other parts of Asia. These included the Chinese monk Yijing, who made several lengthy visits to Sumatra on his way to India in 671 and 695, and the eleventh-century Buddhist scholar Atisha, who played a major role in the development of Vajrayana Buddhism in Tibet. Travellers to these islands mentioned that gold coinage was in use on the coasts, but not inland.

Some historians claim that Chaiya in the Surat Thani province in Southern Thailand was at least temporarily the capital of Srivijaya, but this claim is largely disputed. However Chaiya was probably a regional center of the kingdom. The temple Borom That in Chaiya contains a reconstructed pagoda in Srivijaya style. The Khmer kingdom may have been a tributary in its early stages.

At the same time the Jambi kingdom was taken over, starting the domination of the region through trade and conquest throughout the 7th-9th centuries. The kingdom helped spread the Malay culture throughout Sumatra, Malay Peninsula, and western Borneo. Srivijaya influence waned in the 11th century. The island was then subject to conquests from Javanese kingdoms, first Singhasari and then Majapahit.

Following the disruption of trade at Canton during the years, 820-850 AD, the ruler of Jambi was able assert enough independence to send missions to China in 853 and 871. Jambi's independence coincided with the troubled time when the Sailendra Balaputra, expelled from Java, seized the throne of Srivijaya. The new maharaja was able to despatch a tributary mission to China by 902. Only two years later, the expiring Tang dynasty a conferred a title on a Palembang envoy. In the first half of the tenth century, between the fall of Tang and the rise of Song, there was a brisk trade between the overseas world and the Fujian kingdom of Min and the rich Guangdong kingdom of Nan Han. Srivijaya undoubtedly benefited from this, preparatory to the prosperity it was to enjoy under the early Song. Writing ca 903 Ibn Rustah was so impressed with the wealth of Srivijaya's ruler that he declared one would not hear of a king who was richer, stronger or with more revenue.

In 1068, Virarajendra, the Chola king of Coromandel, conquered Kedah from Srivijaya. The Cholas continued a series of raids and conquests throughout what is now Indonesia and Malaysia for the next 20 years. Although the Chola invasion was ultimately unsuccessful, it gravely weakened the Srivijayan hegemony and enabled the formation of regional kingdoms based, like Kediri, on agriculture rather than trade

Islam made its way to the Aceh region of Sumatra, spreading through contacts with Arabs and Indian traders. By the late 13th century, the kingdom of Pasai (in northern Sumatra) converted to Islam. At the same time Srivijaya became a tributary of the Khmer empire and later the Sukhothai kingdom.

By 1414 Parameswara, the last prince of Srivijaya converted to Islam, and started the Sultanate of Malacca on the Malay peninsula.

The name of the empire was rediscovered by George Coeds in the 1920s, who noticed that the Chinese transcriptions interpreted as Sribhoja and the inscriptions in old Malay refer to the same empire.

External links

id:Sriwijaya ms:Srivijaya nl:Srivijaya ja:シュリーヴィジャヤ王国


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