Srivijaya


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Srivijaya

 

an Indonesian state that arose circa the mid-seventh century in the region of what is now Palembang, on the island of Sumatra.

Srivijaya developed from a principality or principalities that had existed from at least the early third century; its emergence was facilitated by its favorable location on the trade route from India to Southeast Asia and by the fall of Funan. Between the second half of the seventh century and the ninth century, Srivijaya grew into a powerful maritime empire; it conquered the neighboring Sumatran states, western Java, western Kalimantan, and the Malay Peninsula. The empire reached its height in the second half of the ninth century and in the tenth century, during which period it was ruled by the Sailendra dynasty.

Srivijaya was probably an early feudal despotism with a highly developed system of vassal relationships. The principal source of revenue for its rulers was trade, based on the export of gold, tin, and products from the tropical rain forests; in addition, the maharajas received duties from the numerous foreign trading vessels and exploited the population through the levying of taxes and the exaction of tribute payments. Circa 922 a war began with Mataram for control of the peninsula. Circa 1016 the struggle ended in victory for Srivijaya, which was invaded, however, by the Indian state of Chola in 1025. Although its power was undermined by these conflicts, Srivijaya maintained control over the western regions of the archipelago for another two centuries. In the late 13th century, the Javans and Siamese redoubled their attacks on the empire. In the mid-14th century, Srivijaya became a tributary state of Majapahit, and it is last mentioned in 1376.

Srivijaya was a leading cultural center of Southeast Asia and an international center of Buddhism. The chief language was Old Malay; the official language was Sanskrit. In Indonesian history, Srivijaya is notable for being the first state to unite politically and culturally a significant area of the archipelago; it also established extensive ties with the states of Southeast Asia, India, China, and the Middle East.

REFERENCES

Wolters, O. W. Early Indonesian Commerce: A Study of the Origins of Srivijaya. Ithaca, N.Y., 1967.
Coedès, G. Les Etats hinduisés d’Indochine et d’Indonésie. Paris, 1964.
Sastri, K. A. N. History of Sri Vijaya. Madras, 1949.

IU. V. MARETIN

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