Thứ Hai, 16 tháng 6, 2014

Thailand Before The Thai

Ethnic Groups Of Indochina

In Indochina, like everywhere else, the rivers crystallized civilizations and allowed the transmission of cultures to the interior of the region.  But territories are made to pass from one people to another.  History is the spectacle of these crystallizations and exchanges – which are rarely peaceful!  The peoples evolve and move; they mix and assimilate. Nations are born, rise, fall, and occasionally pass away … or rise again!
Indochina has been home to many different peoples and states:  the Khmer, the Mon, the Karen, Pyu, Shan, and Cham, and the Myan, Lao, Viet, Malay, Javanese and Thai that followed them.
At top-right we see the homelands of these peoples, as they were in the first Millennium, and the migrations that were to follow.

1st-2nd Centuries BC: Chinese  Influence

Around 200 BC, the Northwest was dominated by Sino-Tibetan peoples – the ancestors of the Thai, as well as the Burmese and Laotians, while the South was occupied by Austro-nesians, cousins of the Malay and Indonesian peoples. The kingdom of Nam Viet, independent since 207 BC became, in 111 BC, a vassal of the Han (Chinese) empire. In 43 BC, it was finally annexed by the Han. 200 years before the arrival of Indian merchants and colonists, the Chinese extended their influence into the north of Indochina.  Around the turn of the Millennium, Indian civilization began to influence the south of Indochina along the coasts and up the great rivers. Thanks to these two civilizations, writing was introduced into Southeast Asia, and the history of the region was preserved for future generations.

1st-5th Centuries AD: Indian Influence

Between the 1st and 5th centuries, Indian culture (language, writing, religion, art, technology, etc.) influenced not only Indochina, but also Indonesia. During this period, Indian civilization was spread by traders and merchants along the coasts and rivers. Only the highlands, not easily accessed by boats, remained relatively unaffected.
Then as now, Southeast Asia lay in the center of a great maritime and commercial network that linked India and China.  But the preferred sea-route through the Straits of Malacca was closed due to pirates, so the traders took the short overland routes across the Malay Peninsula, giving rise to the kingdom of Fu Nan.

The 3rd Century: The First Kingdoms

In the Northwest, in the valley of Irrawaddy, the Pyus established one of the first Burmese kingdoms. They built their capital in Prome (Srikshetra).
Nan Chao (Nan Chao) constituted the southern part of Yu Nan. It served as a buffer state between Tibet and the Han Empire.
The Han dynasty finished its expansion to the south by annexing the small coastal land of An Nam. To the South, Champa first appeared. This Indianized kingdom was greatly influenced by Srivijaya because of maritime trade.
The 3rd century also marked the beginning of the pre-Mon-Khmer kingdom of Fu Nan.

The 3rd to 6th Century:  Fu Nan

The kingdom of Fu Nan was born from the marriage between the native princess Soma and a foreigner, Kaundiya, a Hindu Brahman.  (Kaundiya had left India and arrived in the Mekong delta in the early 3rd century.) Fu Nan was a fairly decentralized kingdom, perhaps enjoying only a strong hegemony over coastal cities and principalities.
The archaeological excavations and the Chinese historical sources describe Fu Nan as a powerful, prosperous and civilized kingdom. But after two centuries of dominance, it declined rapidly, disintegrating in just two generations.  Fu Nan’s subject peoples – the Mon kingdoms of Dvaravati, Haripunjaya, and Pegu, and Khmer kingdom of Chen La - successfully rebelled against it.
In the South, the kingdom of Srivijaya, grew into a maritime empire. Their ships dominated trade in the region, and thus the roads of Fu Nan lost their importance – and their profits to Indonesian and Malay traders.  Though Srivijaya eventually lost its territories in Indochina to the Khmer Empire, but it continued to control the Malay peninsula and the seatrade through the Straits of Malacca until the kingdom fell in the 14th Century.

7th Century:  Chen La, Dvaravati, Pegu & Ai Lao

At the 7th century, the decline of Fu Nan resulted in the rise of new kingdoms.  In the West, the Mon Buddhist kingdoms of Pegu and Dvaravati (ทวารวดี) emerged.  Little is known about the kingdom of Dvaravati, or even if it was technically even a kingdom at all, or just a loose confederation of principalities and city-states rather than a centralised monarchy. The main centers were at Nakhon Pathom, U Thong and Khu Bua. Other towns like Lavo were also clearly influenced by Dvaravati culture, but probably were not part of the kingdom. Dvaravati itself was heavily influenced by Indian culture, and played an important role in introducing Buddhism to the region.
At the same time, mountain tribes in the North formed a loose confederation of their own: Ai Lao. Finally, the highly civilized Khmer Chen La kingdom emerged as the dominant state in Indochina.  It ruled all of the lower and middle Mekong basin, but its influence extended throughout all Indochina and the Malay Peninsula.

8th Century:  Srivijaya

In the 8th Century, Chen La’s vassals in the south grew strong while its monarchy became weak.  In time the southern cities broke away, becoming easy prey for the very organized, very powerful “kingdom” of Srivijaya.  Chen La had owed its wealth and power to agriculture and its control of the overland trade routes across Indochina. But the maritime empire of Srivijaya owed its prosperity to its sea-trade and domination of the seaports and sea lanes, especially the Straits of Malacca.  Like Chen La and Funan, however, Srivijaya was not a centralized monarchy or single state.  It was a federation of Malay, Sinhalese, Sundanese, Mon, Khmer and Javanese principalities under the overlordship of Srivijaya. This Sumatran port city imposed its suzerainty on Malaya and the coasts and river basins of Chen La (southern Thailand, Cambodia, and southern Vietnam) and Champa.  Not much of a prize, poor, less populated, and remote inland Chen La (Isan and lower Laos) remained independent.

9th Century:  Angkor

In 802, Jayavarman II, “a Khmer prince from Java” freed the South of Chen La from the overlordship of Srivijaya.  He was proclaimed Devaraja (god-king by the will of Shiva).  This act marked the foundation of the Khmer Empire of Angkor.  The Khmer Empire's strength was based on a well-developed system of irrigated rice cultivation and on an elaborate bureaucracy that exerted control over Khmer manpower, but even more so on a long line of strong and able “god-kings” at the head of a centralized monarchy.
About the same time, Pyu became a vassal of Nan Chao, which would finally destroy that ancient kingdom a generation later, annexing its territory in 832, assimilating the Tibeto-Burman Pyu into their own people.  In the Northeast, the Tang dynasty weakened, and An Nam began asserting its independence.

10th Century:  The Khmer Empire

Around year 910, the Khmer king Yasovarman built a fabulous city, Yasodhrapura, which became a great center of commerce, art, religion, and culture, as well as military might.
The expansion of Angkor started with the complete unification of the Khmer nation (all Chen La).  It then expanded towards the west, subjugating most of the Mon Dvaravati “kingdom”.
The Mon “kingdom” of Haripunjaya (or Hariphunchai), perhaps the last vestige of Dvaravati, maintained its independence through the century, as did the Mon kingdom of Pegu.  In the Northeast, with the continued decline of China under the Song dynasty, An Am acquired its independence, and became the kingdom of Dai Viet.

11th Century

The 11th century proved disastrous for the Mon nation.  The Khmer king Suryavarman I completed the annexation of Dvaravati.  He also captured much of Malaya from the  domination of Srivijaya.
In 1040, the Myan poured out of Tibet, falling on the whole valley of Irrawaddy.  The warrior-king Aniruddha founded the Burmese nation (Myanmar), while adopting Mon culture, including their alphabet.
Under the Myan, Pagan, their new capital, became a great city from which Theravada Buddhism would spread far and wide. However, the Brahmanist Khmer city of Yasodhrapura continued to reign supreme as the cultural and political capital of the Indochina.

12th Century: Angkor’s Zenith

In the 1100s, the Khmer Empire conquered and annexed most of its neighbors, reaching its greatest territorial size by mid-century. Suryavarman II, the builder of Angkor Wat, launched many military campaigns – some glorious like his occupation of Champa in 1130; some disastrous like his many failed attacks against Dai Viet.
After Suryavarman II’s death, the Chams avenged themselves: after driving the Khmer out of Champa they raided up the Mekong and occupied the Khmer capital, Angkor Thom.
At the close of the century, the great Khmer king Jayavarman VII, intent on restoring Khmer glory, drove the Chams out of Angkor and re-conquered Champa. He then marched westward, subjugating (but not annexing) Haripunjaya and Pegu, the last free Mon kingdoms.
At the end of the reign of Jayavarman VII, about 1225, no city in the world could equal Angkor Thom in size, riches or beauty. The Khmer kings who succeed Jayavarman VII would live off his accomplishments without adding any of their own, frequently wasting much of his legacy.

Early 13th Century:  The Mongols

In the early 13th century, Mongol hordes lead by Genghis Khan conquered China, founding the Yuan dynasty. Their continued conquests drove whole nations before them, as these peoples tried to escape the Mongols. Among these refugees, some of the Tai peoples of Nan Chao emigrated to Indochina: the Thai settled in the valley of Menam, the Shan in the Salween valley, the Laotians in the upper Mekong, the Zhuang people in Guangxi Province in China, and the Tho and Nung peoples in northern Vietnam.  Once established in their new homelands, they adopted many of the ways of the Mon and Khmer civilizations. The Thais founded the first Thai principality in 1238 in Sukhothai.  In 1253, the Mongol emperor of China, Kublai Khan, annexed Nan Chao, causing a mass migration of its people to the south. The heirs of Nan Chao would affect the political scene of Southeast Asia greatly.
At the same time, the tiny kingdom of Tamberlinga gained its independendence after 500 years of domination by Srivijaya.  At its height in the 13th century, Tamberlinga controlled most of the Malay Peninsula and was one of the dominant Southeast Asian states, and is the only Southeast Asian state to have ever mounted a war of overseas conquest, its spectacular (if ultimately unsuccessful) invasion and occupation of Sri Lanka. But with the death of its great king, Chandrabhanu, Tamberlinga declined rapidly. By the end of the 13th century it was a tributary of Sukhothai and Pandya.  In the 14th century, Tamberlinga was absorbded into the Malayu kingdom, which was ultimately integrated into Siam as Nakorn Sri Dharmaraj.

Late 13th Century: Instability & Opportunity

During the second part of the 13th century, Indochina suffered deep upheavals. Mongol China continued its expansion towards the south, pushing the Shan southwest, where they (the Shan) overwhelmed most of the Myan kingdom of Pagan by 1287.
The Mon took advantage of the disorder, taking their independence once again, founding the kingdoms of Martaban (Pegu) and Lavo (Lopburi).
Dai Viet and Champa staved off many attacks by Mongol China (1281-1288).
In 1287, the three Thai principalities (Sukhothai, Chiang Mai, Phayao) formed a dynastic alliance.  This first kingdom of Siam quickly extended its control over the Menam valley and the Malay peninsula.


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