Southeast Asia and the Srivijaya Kingdom c. 1200

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Map Code: Ax00651

The maritime kingdom of Srivijaya was the most powerful society in Southeast Asia for much of the latter half of the first millennium CE and the beginning of the second millennium CE. It was a thalassocracy (sea-based empire), and came to prominence as a large trading, manufacturing, commercial and religious centre on the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Java and eastern Borneo. The centre of power of the kingdom would regularly alternate between Jambi and Palembang, depending on the leadership at the time, often resulting in contesting political ambitions between the two. During the 11th century, the Srivijaya kingdom was able to secure allegiance with China whilst it came under attack from its rival, the Medang Kingdom in eastern Java. By dedicating a Buddhist temple to the Chinese emperor, Srivijaya’s leader was able to curry his favour. Mahayana Buddhism was an important aspect of Srivijaya’s influence in the region, allowing it to serve as a mid-point for Buddhist pilgrims travelling from China to India. Srivijaya’s construction of Buddhist temples in eastern Java helped it to increase its control over the region. Srivijaya had many rivals within the region and declined between 1200–1300, due to the expansion of neighbouring kingdoms, including Madjapahit.

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