Diverse Cultures of Southeast Asia

By: Bria Fuller & Ndobegang Foletia & Jada Ferrel

Geography of Southeast Asia

  • 1st is mainland Southeast Asia (Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, part of Malaysia)
  • 2nd is island Southeast Asia (20,000 islands scatter between Indian and south china sea, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei, Philippines)
  • Mainland is separated by the rest of Asia by mountains
  • Mountains also separated the four major valleys
  • Whoever controlled those river valleys were rich from trade
  • monsoons shaped trading patterns
  • South Asian ports became centers for trade and cultures, cause merchants waited for the monsoons to start
  • Soon international trade linked India, southeast Asia, and china to East Africa and the Middle East
  • People in Southeast Asia developed their own cultures before any influences
  • Women had greater qualities in Southeast Asia than any other part of Asia and took part in trade

Indian Culture Spreads to Southeast Asia

  • Indian merchants and Hindu priest filtered into Southeast Asia spreading their culture
  • Trade brought prosperity as merchants exchanged products products such as cotton, cloth, jewels, perfume for raw materials such as timber, spices, and gold
  • Southeast Asians visited as Pilgrims and students and as contact increased, Indian beliefs and ideas spread. The peak of Indian influence was 500-1000 BC
  • After Hinduism and Buddhism, Indians carried Islam into the region
  • Today Indonesia has the highest Muslim population of any country in the world
  • The spread of Islam in lands surrounding the Indian Ocean contributed to the growth of a stable thriving trading network

New Kingdoms and Empires Emerge

  • The blend of Indian Influences and local cultures produced kingdoms and empires in Southeast Asia
  • King Anawrahta of the Pagen Kingdom is credited for bringing Buddhism to the Burman people and made Pagen a major Buddhist center. He also made magnificent shines in the capital city
  • After his death, Pagen flourished for 200 years but then failed to conquering Mongols
  • Khumer people adapted Indian writing, mathematics, architecture, and art. Khumer rulers became pious Hindus, and saw themselves as god-kings
  • King Suryavarman II built the great temple complex at Angkor Wat with hundreds of carved figures that tell Hindu myths and glorify the king
  • Srivijaya controlled the strait of Malacca, which was vital to shipping. Both Hinduism and Buddhism reached this island empire
  • local people often blended Indian beliefs withe their own form of worship based on nature spirits
  • Islam spread and local rulers adopted the new religion that lead to links with other Muslim trading centers

Vietnam Emerges

  • China sent military forces to conquer the neighboring state of Annam
  • the river divided water to the rice patties to help a growing population
  • 111 b.c Han armies conquered the region and controlled it for the next 1000 years
  • They adopted Chinese civil service system and built a government bureaucracy similar to that found i china
  • Unlike the rest of southeast Asia, Theravada Buddhism had the strongest impact, daoism also helped shape Vietnamese society
  • In A.D 39 Trumg Trac and Trumg Nhi led an uprising that led Chinese from the land; they tried to restore a simpler form of government; in 939 tang dynasty collapsed in china
  • Vietnamese turned back repeated chinese efforts to reconquer there land; they still remain a tributary state of china for years to come