chapter  Chapter 7
16 Pages

Early and Medieval Southeast Asia

ByRhoads Murphey, Kristin Stapleton

This chapter outlines the start of civilization and fragmented area and the rise of many separate kingdoms there, as well as early interactions with India, China, and the Islamic world. The Region Known as Southeast Asia lies to the south of China and east of India. Southeast Asia is a series of peninsulas on the Asian mainland and island chains off the coast. Many of the spoken languages of peninsular Southeast Asia thus belong to the Sino-Tibetan family rather than to the Austronesian language family, such as Malay. In Vietnam, the easternmost part of peninsular Southeast Asia, Chinese literary and political culture had more influence than Indian. The elite of the region adopted Hindu and Buddhist practices, and many Southeast Asian kings justified their rule using Indian religious principles. Successive kingdoms in Burma were strongly Buddhist after the initial conversion assisted by the Mons, and kings competed, as in Thailand, in building temples and endowing religious enterprises.