Diverse Cultures of Southeast Asia
By: Kie'ra Johnson
Geography of Southeast Asia
- Southeast Asia is made up of two major regions.
- The mainland is separated from the rest of Asia by mountains and high plateaus.
- Mountains also separate the four main river valleys of Southeast Asia
- Merchants harbored their vessels in Southeast Asian ports, which became more centers of trade and culture.
- The key product of Southeast Asia was spices.
- The people's of Southeast Asia developed their own cultures before Indian or Chinese influences shaped their region.
- Diverse ethnic groups speaking many languages settled in Southeast Asia.
- They followed their own religious and cultural patterns.
- Women had greater equality in Southeast Asia than elsewhere in Asia.
- Women also had some freedom choosing or divorcing their marriage partners.
- After Indian and Chinese influences arrived women retrained their traditional rights.
Indian Culture Spreads to Southeast Asia
- Indian traders settled in Southeast Asian port cities in growing numbers.
- They gave presents to local rulers and married into influential families.
- Merchants exchanged products such as cotton cloth, jewels, and perfume for raw materials.
- Indians carried a third religion.
- By 1200s, Muslims ruled northern India.
- Traders spread Islamic beliefs and Muslim culture.
- Arab merchants spread the new faith.
- Indonesia has the largest Muslim population of any nation in the world.
New Kingdoms and Empires Emerge
- In 1044, King Anawrahta united the region.
- Anawrahta made Pagan a major Buddhist center.
- Filled his capital city with magnificent stupas.
- Pagan fell in 1287 to conquering Mongols.
- Indian influences also helped shape the Khmer Empire.
- The Khmer people adapted Indian writing, mathematics, architecture, and art.
- In 1100s, King Suryavarman II built the great temple complex at Angkor Wat.
- In Indonesia, the trading empire of Srivijaya flourished from 600s to the 1200s.
- Islam spread to Sumatra, Java, and other islands.
- Local People often blended Indian beliefs into their own forms of worship based on nature spirits.
- Indian traditions spread mostly through trade rather than conquest.
- China sent military forces to conquer the neighboring sate of Annam.
- The heart of northern Vietnam was the Red River delta.
- There the river irrigated fertile rice paddies, which provided a growing population.
- Han armies conquered the region, and China remained in control for the next 1,000 years.
- They adopted the Chinese civil service system and built an government bureaucracy.
- Vietnam adopted Mahayana beliefs from China.
- In 939, the Tang Dynasty collapsed in China.
- The Vietnamese still remained a tributary state of China for years on forth.