(P04) Archaeological, linguistic and textual evidence of Indian Ocean interactions with South East Asia
Wed 09:00-10:30 K12 | 2.18
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Encounters beyond Islam: Narrating Southeast Asia in the 9th–10th century Akhb?r al-?in wa-l-hind
John Cooper University of Exeter
The anonymous first book of the Akhb?r al-?in wa-l-hind—the ‘Reports of India and China’—is a collation of Arabic accounts of maritime travel and trade between the Arabian-Persian Gulf and East Asia collected by an anonymous scholar in the famous port of Siraf, modern Iran, at some point in the mid-9th century CE. The accounts are presented separately and unsynthesised, in the khabar (report) style of early Arabic historiography, often with attributions to individuals or groups identified by their maritime or mercantile professions, and occasionally named. This manner of presentation, together with the conversational style of writing, is strikingly ethnographic in aspect: it is remarkably direct and practical, reporting on and appraising routes, ports, trade goods and peoples. A second book within the same manuscript, by Ab? Zayd al-S?raf?, presents itself as a more detatched commentary on the first book: it was written a century or so later, by which direct Arabo-Persian trade with China had ceased. While the works overall focus on China, and less so India proper, it inevitably reports on encounters with coastal peoples, trade goods and environments in the intermediate regions of southeast Asia. This paper considers the literary presentation of this information as a work of practical nautical and economic intelligence, but also as a fabulous work in which the peoples of the non-Islamic world are reported back the Islamic heartlands as ‘other’, and appraised with respect to often tacit norms of behaviour and social constitution. In the process, this paper argues that southeast Asia is not only reported; it is also appraised and created within a world view accessible to the society of the 9th–10th Arab-Persian Gulf.
Indian Ocean interactions through the kinship terminologies of two creole communities of Melaka, Malaysia
Silvio De Sousa Macau University of Science and Technology
This paper sets out to analyze the kinship terminologies of two creole communities who have lived in the historical state of Melaka, Malaysia, for more than five centuries. The Hindu Chetties, who are the outcome of intermarriages between merchants from South India and local women in Melaka, and the Catholic Kristangs (Portuguese Eurasians), who have - among other nationalities and ethnicities - South Asian ancestries due to the historical relation between Melaka and Goa (the capital of the Portuguese operations in Asia), but their cultural identity is linked to Portugal.
Both communities have been subject of linguistic and anthropological research, yet the study of their kinship terminologies has not been undertaken. Moreover, the comparative study of both kinship terminologies is also a lacuna. Simultaneously, movements for maintenance of cultural identity and of language have been registered as of late: While grassroots movements from within the Kampung Portugis (alias Portuguese Settlement, which is a small borough in the Melakan suburb of Ujong Pasir) are at the forefront for preserving language and culture, cultural movements related to Kampung Chetti (or Chetti Village, which is a small borough in the Melakan suburb of Gajah Berang) were related to a now permanently closed organization, Melaka In Fact. The Chetties speak their own contact variety of the Malay language, while the Kristangs speak their own language: a Portuguese Creole.
The survey of the kinship terminologies of both communities was performed as part of a wider project focusing on the kinship terminologies of creole communities in Melaka and Jakarta, Indonesia. Preliminary findings show traces of the languages originally involved in the creation of these two communities, namely the interconnection of these two creole communities with similar communities in Sri Lanka and South India, but also exhibit relations between themselves.
Re-thinking western Indian Ocean and Southeast Asian boatbuilding technology in the late first millennium CE: distinction or hybridisation?
Alessandro Ghidoni University of Exeter
This paper explores whether it is time to re-evaluate our understanding of the distribution of sewn-plank construction in the medieval Indian Ocean. Our knowledge of Indian Ocean watercraft in the late first millennium CE is very limited, despite the crucial role that vessels played in connecting maritime communities across this vast region. Vague textual sources and scarce archaeological evidence have led the scholarly discourse towards a rigid distinction in boatbuilding methods between the western Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia, based predominantly on the fastening technique: the former characterised by the so-called “Arabo/Indian tradition” relying on sewn-plank construction technique, and the latter consisting in vessels fastened in a “lashed-lug” method.
However, the discovery of the 9th-century Belitung and Phanom-Surin shipwrecks in Indonesia and Thailand, respectively, could instead provide new evidence against a marked difference in boatbuilding practices between the two regions. Both shipwrecks have been tentatively identified as either Arab, Persian or Indian vessels because their hulls are entirely sewn, in a way reminiscent of the western Indian Ocean sewn-plank technique. However, scholars have focussed mainly on the western Indian Ocean elements displayed by the wrecks overlooking other aspects which reveal strong links with Southeast Asia, such as the sewing materials, timber species and other construction features.
This paper offers possible interpretations on the origin of these shipwrecks by analysing their construction features in depth and comparing them with other archaeological, historical and ethnographic evidence. Rather than providing definitive answers, it raises a series of questions to promote a scholarly debate to re-evaluate the spread of sewn-plank construction in the Indian Ocean, which might reflect the sharing of ideas and boatbuilding technology between the maritime communities located along its vast littoral during this period.
Under the global Pan-Islamism: The Indo-Malayan networks from the classical Malay literature
Daya Wijaya CITCEM Universidade do Porto
This paper attempts to analyse the Indo-Malayan trade networks in the age of commerce according to the classical Malay literature. This study used the classical Malay literatures (Hikayat Hang Tuah, Sejarah Melayu, Undang-Undang Laut Melaka, Hikayat Aceh, Hikayat Malem Dagang, and Bustanus Salatin) to complement some historical information, which had been provided by the historical primary sources. Both sources used to re-narrate the Indo-Malayan networks during the early modern period.
Historically, the Malay world became a cosmopolitan space in the age of commerce (1450-1680). The multinational merchants and adventurers passed the Straits of Malacca to reach the Indian Ocean or to go to the South China Sea and the Java Sea. The Malays welcomed the foreigners including Indian merchants. The Indian merchants especially the Gujarati and Kling merchants, populated Malacca as a center of Southeast Asian commerce for centuries. They were chosen as the harbor masters of Malacca and joined the sultanate to control the lucrative trade of Malacca. The Malays were not the passive merchants. They also sent their trading ships to Indian sub-continent. Interestingly, Indo-Malayan connection was not only recorced in the historical sources. The Malay literature also gave some insights on the Indo-Malayan interaction. Hikayat Hang Tuah (The Epic of Hang Tuah) might be the best narrative to narrate Malacca’s trade networks and the presence of Indian merchant communities in the Malay World. Besides providing the genealogy of the Malay kings, Sejarah Melayu (Malay Annals) also informs Indo-Malay encounter during the sultanate period. The Sultan of Malacca sent his royal merchants to conduct a trade to Benua Keling (Coromandel Coast). the Sultan and his royal family also organised an annual journey to Mecca for the hajj.
After the capture of Malacca by the Portuguese in 1511, the Islamic merchants were persecuted. The Gujarati, the leading Islamic merchants, escaped to Aceh. Aceh grew as a serious threat for the Portuguese trade in Malacca. Aceh took an iniative to establish a global pan-Islamism. Those Islamic alliance comprised of Ottoman Empire, Indian Sultanates, Aceh, Johor, Demak, Jepara, Ternate, Hitu, and Banda. They had a shared purpose, which maintained the Islamic networks, to expell the Portuguese. The 17th century Acehnese chronicles, especially Bustanus Salatin (the Garden of the Kings), also provides some information on the global political economy of Acehnese Sultanate. The Acehnese Sultans, for several decades, had a diplomatic relationship to Indian Sultanate and Ottoman Empire. The Sultans frequently sent a request to their Islamic allies to assist them to jointly invade the Portuguese in Malacca. The classical Malay literature seems to reflect how did the Malay Sultanates flourish and establish the global pan-Islamism during the 15th-17th centuries.
The Indian Ocean is a vast maritime space in which African, Arabian and Asian maritime communities have interacted since as early as the Bronze Age. Recent investigations in the field of archaeology, ethnography, linguistics and literature have highlighted the value of maritime evidence in understanding past interactions between the western and the eastern parts of the Indian Ocean.
In archaeology, the finding of boat and ship remains showing different construction techniques has recently stimulated discussion about technological transfer, acquisition and change, through time, across different boatbuilder communities of the Indian Ocean. Similarly, linguistic studies of evidence related to the maritime context, the lexicon of the sea, etc., have suggested a strong interaction among diverse maritime communities of the Indian Ocean and may reflect both trade and/or technological hegemony of some specific groups. Textual evidence in Arabic and other regional languages has yet to be fully exploited in understanding the nature of these interactions.
The panel will bring together most recent themes emerging in the fields of archaeology, linguistics and history concerning maritime interactions across the Indian Ocean. We believe that interdisciplinary comparison across the different evidence types will help better understanding and interpreting these recent finds.