By D G E Hall (auth.)
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Extra info for A History of South-East Asia
TO THE BEGINNING OF THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY PT. I South-East Asia before the Christian era. But so imaginative an interpretation looks like a flight of nationalistic fancy rather than sober historical thinking; for if one thing is certain it is that Indian culture was not brought to South-East Asia by waves of immigrants. 1 Indigenous South-East Asian writings dealing with this early period can provide little help: those extant are recent recensions, none of which is more than two hundred years old.
Krom, from his study of Javanese civilization before the coming of Indian influence, adds to the list given by Credes (i) the wayang, or puppet shadow theatre, (ii) the gamelan orchestra, and (iii) batik work. 1 In such a vast area there were naturally local diversities of culture. It is significant, however, that the Chinese would seem to have had some idea of the cultural unity of the region when they applied to its various peoples and languages the name K'un-lun, if, indeed, those scholars are correct who attribute so wide a meaning to the term.
In the absence of archaeological and epigraphical material earlier than the fifth century, our sole sources of information for the earlier period are the place-names in the Niddesa and Ptolemy's Geographica, and the references in the Chinese dynastic histories to relations with the states of South-East Asia. The latter are invaluable, for without them the earliest history of the important states of Funan and Champa would be completely unknown. But their geographical particulars are vague and their transcriptions of Sanskrit names difficult to recognize.
A History of South-East Asia by D G E Hall (auth.)