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Ancient Kingdoms of Malaysia

Glossary terms
Indigenous Orang Asli Migration Paramaswera Melaka Tributary state Negrito Senoi Proto-malay Srivajaya Marco Polo Entrepot

11,000 years ago

Indigenous people of Malaysia

Indigenous: inhabiting or existing in a land from the earliest times or from before the arrival of colonists. There are 3 main indigenous (Orang Asli) groups in Malaysia; 1. Negrito 2. Senoi 3. Proto Malay These can be further divided into 18 ethnic groups of varying size which each have their own language (the smallest group Orang Kanak, has just 87 members). From our work last lesson: what % of the Malaysian population are indigenous?

Orang Asli (indigenous) peoples of Malaysia

Genetically, the negrito are genetically the most closely linked group to Perak man. This ethnic group is characterized by their small stature and African features.

Photo of a negrito tribe from 1905

Modern photo showing a negrito man playing a nose flute

Negrito populations

Orang Asli (indigenous) peoples of Malaysia

The Senoi later filtered down from southern Thailand. They are known as dream people as they traditionally place great importance on interpreting and analyzing their dreams.
If a Senoi child has a nightmare about being attacked by a tiger he or she will be encouraged to return to their dream that night and kill it. Senoi children will also be encouraged to have as much fun as possible in their dreams, they all learn to fly! Symbolism: Dogs in your dreams mean you may get a bellyache.

Proto-Malays Malayu-Asli
The Malayu-Asli refers to the mainland Asian population who migrated to Malaysia between 2500 and 1500 BCE. The Proto-Malays were excellent seafarers who possessed advanced fishing and basic agricultural skills. They moved between New Zealand and Madagascar and were involved in the shipping and trade of the Chinese and Indian empires for more than 2000 years.
Migrate: move to a new area or country in order to find work or better living conditions

PerahusMalay ship

Gold ore

Tradition Malay ship: Perahu

Indian ocean trade route

Indian ship on lead coin from the Srivijaya Empire

The Kingdom of Srivajaya

Srivajaya kingdom dates back to 500CE and incredibly lasted until 1400CE although their influence began to wane from the 12th Century onwards. The capital of the Srivajaya Kingdom was in Palambang. At its peak the Kingdom stretched from Palambang to Java, Sumatra and across the Malay penninsula (arriving in 700CE) The religion of the kingdom was initially Indic, then Hindu and in 425CE Buddhism arrived. Both these religions originated in India. The influence of these religions was initially only seen in the royal residences inland, not in the coastal towns.

Srivajaya Kingdom
Srivajaya was an important trading partner with China. In 1292 the kingdom was visited by intrepid Venetian merchant Marco Polo who produced an amazingly detailed and vivid portrait of the region. The king of Palambang th century, Gujarati In the 13 sent his courier to China to traders and merchants seek help but by the time introduced Islam to the region. the officials arrived from In 1377 the last Srivajaya Beijing, the king had been monarch, whose kingdom executed and the was much smaller than his kingdom had been predecessors, was attacked conquered. by the Majapahit Kingdom.

The Kingdom of Melaka

Parameswara was a Hindu prince of Parameswara- 1st ruler of Melaka Palambang in the declining Srivajaya Kingdom. The Majahapit invaded Palambang and he fled from his palace to Temasek (Singapore). Parameswara was welcomed by the governor of Temasek and then betrayed as Parameswara murdered him and took control of the region for 4 years. The Majahapit then attacked Temasek and Paramaswera fled again, this time to the Malaysian interior. He washed up in a tiny fishing village at the mouth of the Bertran river where a famous incident occurred

The Kingdom of Melaka

Complete questions 1 and 2 on the worksheet

The Kingdom grows

Melaka was founded in 1402 and Parameswara organised his men and began to cultivate local crops such as bananas, sugar cane and yams. In 1409 Parameswara married the Princess of Pasai and he took the Islamic title, the Iskandar Shah. His skilled leadership saw the population of Melaka soar and soon trade was flourishing with India, Java and Sumatra. In 1414 Paremaswara died at the age of 70.

The Kingdom Grows

In 1446 Ming Emperor Yung-Lo recognised Parameswara as the rightful ruler of Melaka and they gave protection to the small state against the Siam dynasty in the north. Armies from Siam attacked Melaka in 1446 and 1456. Melaka became a tributary state to China which meant that they would give large gifts, allow China preferential trade rights, and accept them as a superior power. Melaka flourished as a port city as it was perfectly located geographically to benefit from growing international trade in everything from spices to slaves and precious metals. It rapidly became the richest and most multicultural region in South East Asia. Melaka even had a navy that would patrol the local seas to protect trading boats against piracy.

It was recorded in The Unofficial Biography of Ming Empress Yian by Ji Yun of the way in which the Ming Dynasty Emperor Xizong selected palace women: The tall and short, fat and thin would be rejected; then the eyes, ears, nose, lips and tongue as well as muscle, skin, hair would be inspected and those who failed to reach palace standards would be rejected; then hearing would be tested and those with hearing problems or stammers would be rejected; then they would be asked to walk several paces to inspect their movements, rejecting several more. Those who remained would be sent to the palace to become palace women. According to their personalities, words and actions as well as the emperor's liking, a few of these would be selected to be concubines.

1509 The first Portuguese traders sail into Melaka, signalling the start of a new era in Malay history.

Complete questions 3 and 4 on the worksheet

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