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Title: Early Indonesian commerce and the origins of Srivijaya
Author: Wolters, O. W.
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 1962
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The origins of the famous maritime empire of Srivijaya in south-eastern Sumatra, a name first recorded in 671, belong to the history of early Indonesian commerce. In the third century A.D. Ko-ying, situated on that coast and the chief trading kingdom in western Indonesia, was not on the ship, ink route between India and China, but in the fifth century, when southern China depended on overseas trade for luxury imports, voyages from Indonesia to China had become habitual. By about A.D. 500 Sumatran pine resin and benzoin were known to southern Chinese writers as Po-ssu resins, not as Laufer thought because they came from a south East Asian country transcribed as Po-ssu but because they were regarded as 'Persian-type' substitutes for frankincense and myrrh and part of the 'Persian' trade in western Asian produce, which came is western Indonesia to China. The evidence suggests that Indonesian ships, operating from south-eastern Sumatra, had obtained a major share in carrying this merchandise and that, in the fifth sixth centuries when the first tributary missions came from Indonesian kingdoms to China, the lending commercial kingdom on this coast was Kan-t'o-li. Thus Srivijaya cae to the fore on the coast whose inhabitants had pioneered Sino-Indonesian trade. To protect the commercial interests which it inherited from the past Srivijaya was compelled to forestall the first signs of competition from ports on the Straits of Malacca. It did so before the end of the seventh century by dominating the Straits with its fleet. One of the main themes of the subsequent 500 years of Srivijayan history is the attempt to compel, with diminishing success, foreign merchants and seamen to conform to a system of maritime communications which had been created by a trading situation older than Sriivijaya itself.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral