Śrīvijayatowards Chaiya  2009416―2010920


Takashi Suzuki



There are so many misunderstandings and confusion on the early stage history of Southeast Asia. This situation has not been improved so much during one hundred years.

In this paper what I try to discuss is on the history of the trade between the East and West in the Śrīvijaya times at the same time I would like to relocate the capital of Shih-li-fo-shi (室利仏逝) from Palembang to Chaiya. The Palembang Hypothesis presented by G. Coedès and has been supported by most historians is not rational from many aspects and it is proved apparent mistake. I-Ching and the “Xing Tang-Shu” wrote that Shih-li-fo-shi was located in the northern hemisphere, in other words in the Malay Peninsula


Shih-li-fo-shi  in the Tang(唐)times was well known as Śrivijaya. San-fo-chi (三仏斉) which appeared in 904 at the last stage of the Tang Dynasty618~907was acknowledged by the Tang officials as Śrivijaya. And in the Sung times, it was recognized as San-fo-chi, which according to Chau-Ju-ka(趙汝适), started sending embassies to China since 904.

Between Shih-li-fo-shi (室利仏逝) and San-fo-chi (三仏斉), there was ‘new Kha-ling (Śailendra). They were all Śrivijaya. Śrivijaya consists of many states more than fourteen, most of them were ‘port states’ related with trade,  The champion states of them were, in Shih-li-fo-shi times Chaiya, Kha-ling times central Java and San-fo-chi times Jambi and Kedah.

The rulers of Funan (扶南) after kicked out from Cambodia fled to Pan-pan (盤盤). They established a new state called Shih-li-fo-shi. Before making Shih-li-fo-shi, they merged other states in the Malay Peninsula. At the end of 670 A.D. only the name of Shih-li-fo-shi remained in the middle of the Peninsula, which was recorded in Chinese chronicles as tributary country. Before that Chi-tu (赤土), Tan-tan (丹丹) and Pan-pan disappeared. Shih-li-fo-shi opened its window to the Strait of Malacca, after merged Kedah. It was necessary for Shih-li-fo-shi to control the Malacca Strait to purchase the western commodities. In the middle of the seventh century, the presence of the western countries, Persia and Arab, increased in the Tang court. This means comparative decrease of Shih-li-fo-shi’s status in the Tang ().

Shih-li-fo-shi sent an expeditionary navy to put Malayu (末羅瑜), Jambi (占卑) and Palembang (浡淋邦) under its control in early 680s. After successful campaign Shih-li-fo-shi set up several inscriptions near Palembang and Jambi. Then Shih-li-fo-shi sent force in 686 from the base of the Bangka Island to Kha-ling (訶陵=Sanjaya), located central Java. The navy might have successfully landed at Pekalongan, a major port of Kha-ling. There Shih-li-fo-shi established the Śailendra kingdom. However Śailendra coexisted with the Sanjaya kingdom. At the end of the seventh century, the territory of Shih-li-fo-shi became the largest, covering the middle of the Malay Peninsula, the east coast of Sumatra and Java.

However, around 745, Chen-la attacked the capital of Shih-li-fo-shi, and occupied Chaiya and Nakhon Si Tammarat. At the same time the control of the Malacca Strait collapsed. Nearly twenty years later, Śrīvijaya group counter attacked Chen-la and recovered Chaiya and Nakhon Si Tammarat. At this campaign Śailendra navy from Java was the main force and the king of Śailendra was given the title of the ‘Mahārāja’ of Śrīvijaya. The memorial of this event was the ‘Ligor inscription’ dated 775. Śailendra became the champion state of Śrīvijaya group, but Śailendra sent envoys to the Tang court under the name of ‘Kha-ling’ same as Sanjaya. Actual shipment of its tribute was dispatched from the east coast of the Malay Peninsula, where international commodities were easily accumulated.

Around 830s, Śailendra had lost helm in the central Java and soon after it was expelled from Java by Sanjaya. Prince Bālaputra fled to Suvernadvipa (Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula) but he inherited the title of Mahārāja of Śrīvijaya. He might at first have fled to Palembang, but his real location was unknown. Jambi had a strong king, so Bālaputra seemed to go to Kedah finally. At the end of the ninth century Śrīvijaya group formed the new allied states ‘San-fo-chi’. San-fo-chi means literally ‘three Vijaya’, perhaps consisted of Jambi, Kedah and Palembang. The role of Palembang was not striking which was apart from the main route of the ‘East and West’ trade. After forming San-fo-chi, control of the Malacca Strait was fortified and San-fo-chi could dominate the tributary trade with the Tang. On the contrary Java, Sanjaya could not continue sending embassies to the Tang court, because Sanjaya was unable to purchase western goods. At the early eleventh century, San-fo-chi was occupied by Cola, the south Indian, Tamil empire. San-fo-chi regained its helm at the end of the eleventh century.

At the end of the twelfth century the South Sung abolished the tributary system due to the financial trouble, and intergrated into the ‘maritime custom system (市舶司制度)’. Under the new maritime custom system, the role of San-fo-chi was diminished as the leading tributary country. After 1178, the name of San-fo-chi disappeared from the chronicle of the South Sung. The Yuan government inherited the ‘maritime custom system’, so the individual state could trade with the custom officers at the major ports of China.

 At the beginning of the Ming Dynasty, the first emperor Hongwudi (洪武帝) resumed the tributary system. Then so-called’San-fo-chi’ appeared to the Ming court. This San-fo-chi came from Palembang. At that time Palembang was a vassal state of Java (the Majapahit kingdom) and Java killed the envoy from the Ming at Palembang. Hongwudi realized that he was cheated by the ruler of Palembang,


(Uncompleted Identification)


In the Chinese chronicles, the names of many states were recorded, but in Southeast Asia, only several names were identified and some of major states are still dubious.

For instance, the location of Shih-li-fo-shi (室利仏逝) have been mistaken as Palembang. It was not Palembang but Chaiya at the Bay of Bandon in Thailand. Langkasuka (狼牙須) was not Pattani but near Nakhon Si Tammarat. Chi-tu is supposed to the south of Langkasuka but it is not identified yet, because the location of Langkasuka has been mistaken as Pattani. Kan-tuo-li (干陀利) was Kandari and modern Kedah, but many historians agree, according to G. Coedès, it was in Sumatra. Ho-lo-tan (訶羅単) is believed in Java, but in the fifth century, there was not so developed state in Java. It must be Kelantan, now in the east coast of Malaysia. Tan-tan (丹丹) is not known, but it was probably Kelantan. Lo-yueh (羅越) cannot be Johore, but at the north end of the Malay Peninsula for instance Ratburi (Rachaburi) in Thailand.

On the contrary, a few states were firmly identified. For instance, Ke-da (羯茶) is Kedah, Pan-pan (盤盤)is Chaiya, Malayu (or Mulayu 未羅遊) is the estuary of Jambi. Tun-sun (典遜) is Tenasserim. Shepo (闍婆) is Java but the concept of Java was not clear before Tang.

With these basic uncertainties, we cannot discuss the history of early Southeast Asia. In this paper, I try to fix the ambiguity as much as possible, and clarify the stream of the history of Śrīvijaya.

My conclusion is that Śrīvijaya was a well organized ‘commercial oriented state’ that tried to monopolize the tributary embassies to China from Southeast Asia. Its location of the capital was at the first stage, when I-Ching visited in 671, was Chaiya of the Bandon Bay. Chaiya was known as the capital of Pan-pan which had been historically a subordinate state of Funan.

The relation of Funan and Pan-pan had been not recognized properly for long time. Pan-pan was conquered by Funan’s Fan-shih-man(范師曼) at the early third century, since then Pan-pan was utilized by Funan as the major trade port connecting to Takua Pa. Funan imported the western precious goods through ‘the Trans Peninsula Route’ between Takua Pa and Pan-pan. In a sense, Pan-pan had not only been a subordinate state of Funan, but also substancially a part of Funan.

Through the total history of the later Funan to Śrīvijaya, all of the kings were devotees of Mahayana Buddhism even though they paid respect to Hinduism.


The distorted history of Southeast Asia in Śrīvijaya times


At the beginning of the twenty-first century, few people doubt that the location of the Śrīvijaya was Palembang in the Sumatra Island, because according to G. Coedès Palembang was the center of the trade between the East and West in the Śrīvijaya times as well as that of the Mahayana Buddhism. However it is quite dubious if the hypotheses reflect historical facts or not. As the entrepôt between India and China, Jambi was located at more preferable location. As the center of the Mahayana Buddhism, the states of Malay Peninsula, such as Chaiya had more advantage than Palembang.

In the history of Śrīvijaya, the role of Palembang was too exaggerated, as the result the ancient history of Southeast Asia has been distorted. For instance the trade relation between China and Java was not so developed before the seventh century. Even the inscription was rare before the seventh century in the central Java. The ancient Chinese courts preferred the Indian, Arabic and Persian goods. The Java Island was not in the position to get them easily, compared with Funan and Champa.


Historically from very ancient times, Indian people and their influences came to Southeast Asia in successive waves. The details of them cannot be discussed here. However the first migrant group came to Southeast Asia as treasury hunters. They primarily looked for gold, tin and other precious metals. They found several gold mines in this area, for instance Pahang in the middle of the Malay Peninsula. The Indian migrants brought beads and cotton clothes to exchange with foods, gold and daily necessities from indigenous people.

In the second phase, Indian appeared in Southeast-Asia as traders. At first they brought Indian products such as cotton clothes and beads. And next stage they came with the western products such as frankincense, bronze lumps and various kind of Arabic and Persian goods. These products were consumed by local people and re-exported to China or other countries.

The reason why Indian sought gold is very clear, because Indian economy needed more gold after huge inflow of gold coins from Rome, gold became common money in India.


From the early third century, Funan and Lin-ye (林邑=Champa) appeared as major tributary countries to China. Both countries dominated China trade, but from the east coast of the Malay Peninsula, Kelantan, Pahang and Patanni appeared as players. These states were free from Funan’s direct control.  At this stage Java and Sumatra had not directly contacted with China.


Śrīvijaya is recorded as one of the major tributary countries in the Tang DynastyA.D.618~907. A famous Chinese monk I-Ching (義浄) recorded in his travelogue “Nan-Hui Chi-Kuei Nei-Fa Chuan=南海寄帰内法伝” that he left Canton in 671 on a Persian ship to India. He first visited the most frequent international port, Shih-li-fo-shi, where he found a huge number of Buddhist monks more than 1,000 who were undergoing training and practiced the high level of study of the Buddhism. I-Ching stayed there for six months to study the Sanskrit language. Before that Funan had been the center of Buddhism in Southeast Asia.

I-Ching received warm welcome and treatment from the king of Shih-li-fo-shi and he was sent to the next port, Malayu (末羅瑜)by the king’s own ship. At Malayu, I-Ching stayed for two months, from where he turned the direction (転向) toward the east India, his final destination. On his way to the Northern India’s main port Tāmraliptī(耽摩立底), he stopped over Kedah(羯茶) and then the Naked People’s Island (裸人国), supposed one of the Nicobar Islands.


The locations of Malayu, Kedah and the Naked People’s Island are almost clear, but the location of Shih-li-fo-shi was not known for long time.

But around 1920, George Coedès gave ‘the decisive answer’ that Shih-li-fo-shi should be pronounced as Śrīvijaya and its location was Palembang of the southern Sumatra. His took up several inscriptions as evidence found at Palembang and Jambi, which I discuss later.


Nearly twenty years earlier than G. Coedès, Dr. Junjiro Takakusu had published a book, “A Record of the Buddhist Religionas practiced in India and the Malay Archipelago” Oxford University, 1896, which is the translation of I-Ching’s Nan-hai Chi-kuei Nei Fa Chuan(南海寄帰内法伝)”.[1]* In this book, Dr. Takakusu attached a sheet of map which showed the course of I-Ching’s itinerary to India from China. Dr. Takakusu made two big mistakes on this map. The first one is he supposed I-Ching’s first destination was Palembang.  I-Ching wrote nothing about Palembang, he wrote that he arrived at Shih-li-fo-shi namely Śrīvijaya after less than twenty days’ journey from Canton.  Dr. Takakusu mistakenly decided the location of Shih-li-fo-shi (Śrīvijayaas Palembang.

The reason why Dr. Takakusu brought Śrīvijaya to Palembang is apparent. He believed what Ma-Huan(馬歓) wrote, “Ying-Yai Sheng-Lan(瀛涯勝覧), in 1416, in which Ma dictated that Ku-kang (旧港=Old Port) is the same country as was formerly called San-fo-chi(三仏斉) , and Ku-kang was also called Palembang (浡淋邦), which is under the supremacy of Java.旧港、即古名三仏斉是也。番名曰浡淋邦、属爪哇国所轄。」Ku-kang (Old Port) was another name of

Palembang, but Palembang had been one of the vassal states of San-fo-chi in the Sung times.

San-fo-chi is equivalent to Śrīvijaya, so Dr. Takakusu might have misunderstood that Palembang was the capital of Shih-li-fo-shi (室利仏逝), which is also Śrīvijaya. However, this was the grave misunderstanding. In the Yuan () times San-fo-chi did not exist actually. In the Yuan Shih (元史), the name of San-fo-chi is never mentioned, instead the name of Mulayu (木剌由) is recorded. Mulayu means Jambi at that time.

At the early stage of the Ming Dynasty, Palembang was a vassal state of Java, but sent embassies to China pretending as San-fo-chi.  According to “Chu-fan-chih “(諸蕃志=”Records of Barbaric Nations”) written by Chau-Ju-ka(趙汝适,1225), Palembang was one of fifteen dependencies of San-fo-chi and not San-fo-chi itself.

In a sense, at first the Ming court was cheated by the king of Palembang, and Ma-Huan also, was misguided. Subsequently Dr. Takakusu made a mistake. The fatal misunderstanding began at the last stage of the nineteenth century when Dr. Takakusu published his famous book on I-Ching from the Oxford University Press. Unfortunately Dr. Takakusu’s book has been so influential and read by many people, and even Dr. Q. Wales believed that I-Ching’s first destination was Palembang.

When Dr. Takakusu drew this map, he could not read Shih-li-fo-shi as Śrīvijaya, but he wrote as ‘(Sri) Bhoga’. The second mistake was Kedah. I-Ching wrote clearly as Khe-da(羯茶), which Dr. Takakusu read as ‘Kacha’, so I-Ching was ‘misguided’ to Aceh of the northern Sumatra. ‘Cha()’ was pronounced as ‘da’ in the Tang times, he did not know the pronunciation in the old time.  Even P. Wheatley wrote as Chieh-cha. The latter was corrected later by other historians, but the Dr. Takakusu’s mistake of Palembang has not been corrected until today. At the same time some historians do not understand the importance Kedah and the over land rade route of the Malay Peninsula. These are the causes of distorting of the ancient history of Southeast Asia.


The History of Ming Dynasty (the Ming Shih) says that San-fo-chi (三仏斉)was formerly called Kan-da-lior Kan-tuo-li、干陀利). 「三仏斉、古名干陀利。劉宋孝武帝時、常遣使奉貢。梁書武帝時数至。宋名三仏斉、修貢不絶。」Kan-da-li is equivalent to Kedah, so the Ming Shih is correct as for San-fo-chi which started tribute in 904, at the last stage of the Tang times. The Ming Shih is also correct that Kan-da-li was Kedah itself and started sending tributary missions to China in 441 and the capital of San-fo-chi was Kedah at the end of the tenth century. In this case Kan-da-li sent its ships to China from the ports of the east coast of the Malay Peninsula.

But the Ming Shih (明史)forgot about Shih-li-fo-shi, the first Śrīvijaya, the Ming Shih should have mentioned that Shih-li-fo-shi was the predecessor of San-fo-chi. Because Kan-tou-li had sent embassies to China during 441563 and San-fo-chi sent its first envoy to the Tang in 904. There are more than three hundred years absence, which were covered by Shih-li-fo-shi and ‘new Kha-ling’ (Śailendra). But Shih-li-fo-shi, ‘new Kha-ling’ (Śailendra) and San-fo-chi are Śrīvijaya after all. So, the description of the Ming-shi is not accurate, but basically hits the vital historical point.


The Historical Development of Śrīvijaya


 The predecessor of Śrīvijaya was Funan as G. Coedès says. Funan was kicked out from Cambodia by Chen-la, northern subordinate of Funan perhaps at the second half of the sixth century. But the ruling class of Funan fled to a neighboring subordinate state, Pan-pan with their navy.

 G. Coedès thought Funan made a way for Java, but Funan had no reason to go unknown land and at least not friendly country. In the early 680s, Śrīvijaya conquered Palembang and Jambi where Śrīvijaya left several inscriptions. In 686 Śrīvijaya sent expedition from the base of the Bangka Island to the central Java, Kha-ling (Ho-ling 訶陵). G. Coedès thought that Śrīvijaya attacked the west Java, Tarumanegara. However Śrīvijaya had no reason to conquer the west Java. Actually Śrīvijaya landed Pekalongan at the central Java, major port of Kha-ling (Sanjaya kingdom). The evidence is ‘Sojomerto inscription’. The name of the commander of Śrīvijaya force was ‘Dapunta Selendra’, who was the founder of the Śailendra kingdom in the central Java.

 At the beginning of the seventh century, the territory of Śrīvijaya became the largest covering the Malay Peninsula, the Malacca Strait, Southern Sumatra and the Central Java.

I suppose that Śrīvijaya was a well organized commercial oriented state which tried to monopolize the tributary embassies to China from Southeast Asia. Its location of the capital was at the first stage, when I-Ching visited, was Chaiya of the Bandon Bay. Chaiya was known as the capital of Pan-pan which had been historically a subordinate state of Funan. Pan-pan had been a substantial subordinate state of Funan for long time. Perhaps Pan-pan was conquered by Funan’s Fan-shih-man(范師曼) at the early third century, since then Pan-pan was utilized as the major trade port connecting to Takua Pa. Funan imported the western precious goods through ‘the Trans Peninsula Route’ between Takua Pa and Pan-pan, which was the shortest route near the Kra Isthmus.

Quaritch Wales says:

I now appreciate that Fu-nan’s conquest of the region in the third century was largely stimulated by the desire to control the overland trade”.[2]*


When I-Ching left Canton in 671, Śrīvijaya’s territory covered the northern half part of the Malay Peninsula including Takua Pa and Kedah in the west coast, and Chaiya, Nakhon Si Tammarat (Ligor), Sogkhla, Pattani, and Kelantan in the east coast. In the last quarter of the seventh century, Śrīvijaya was only one tributary country in the Malay Peninsula. Chi-tu, Tan-tan and Pan-pan disappeared and they never came back again.

At the same time Śrīvijaya invaded Jambi and Palembang, to control of the Malacca Strait from Kedah. Śrīvijaya put south Sumatra under control. After 686, Śrīvijaya sent its navy to conquer Kha-ling in the central Java from the Bangka Island, near the estuary of Palembang. The result of the campaign was not recorded anywhere, but Śrīvijaya succeeded to conquer the Sanjaya kingdom in the central Java, which had sent embassies to the Tang Dynasty in 646, 666 and 670. Tarumanegara, on the contrary had no record sending envoy to China. The name of Śailendra came up suddenly in the ‘inscription of Ligor’ dated 775 as the major state of Śrīvijaya. Śrīvijaya had 14 subordinate city-states and Śailendra in the central Java was one of them. There is another evidence of Śrīvijaya’s success.

In 1963, an old inscription was discovered at Sojomerto near Pekalongan in the center of Java, on which the name of Dapunta Selendra was engraved. Selendra is Malay language, but it is apparently Śailendra in Sanskrit. The inscription is not dated, but on paleographical grounds it can be ascribed to the seventh century. It is the oldest inscription of the central Java. This suggests that the Śrīvijaya’s army from the Bangka Island landed at the harbor of Pekalongan, and the commander of the army might have been Dapunta Selendra. Anyway it was certain that at the end of the seventh century, the empire of Śrīvijaya was completed, covering the most parts of the Malay Peninsula, the Malacca Strait, south Sumatra including Jambi, Palembang, and the Bangka Island and the central Java. On the Kedukan Bukit inscription of Palembang dated 682, there is a name of Dapunta Hyang, who is supposed as the king of Śrīvijaya, Jayanaśa. Dapunta Selendra might belong to the same group of Śrīvijaya.


Chen-la’s occupation Chaiya and Ligor inscription


However the capital of Śrīvijaya, Chaiya was invaded by Chen-la (Khmer) around 745 A.D. and the rulers of Śrīvijaya abandoned Chaiya and Nakhon Si Tammarat. Śrīvijaya shifted its capital to the south territory, such as Kedah or Jambi or Palembang, even though the location is not identified. For Chen-la to occupy Chaiya, the capital of Śrīvijaya was a long time dream, because Chaiya was the key port connecting with Takua Pa in the west coast of the Peninsula.

 In 747 the king of Chen-la visited the Tang court and the emperor offered a banquet to Chen-la’s mission. Chen-la resumed a tributary envoy in 750, after 33 years of absence.

1n 753, 755, 767, 771, and 780, Chen-la successively sent embassies to China, perhaps it became easy to send missions for Chen-la to the Tang after the occupation of Chaiya and Nakhon Si Tammarat. However the occupation of Chaiya could not perish Śrīvijaya, because Śrīvijaya had 14 vassal city-states and as the whole they could have survived. Chen-la had strong army, but its navy was not strong enough to defeat Śrīvijaya. On the contrary, Chen-la was easily defeated by the navy from Java, Śailendra.

26 years after disappearance of Shih-li-fo-shi from the chronicle of Tang, ‘Kha-ling(訶陵)’ resumed its tributary to China in 768. But the last mission from former Kha-ling was in 666 or 670[3]*. It was nearly a century absence. This ‘new Kha-ling’ was Śailendra from the central Java. This means the Śailendra kingdom recovered Chaiya and expelled the army of Chen-la and grasped the hegemony among the Śrīvijaya group. This counter attack might have succeeded around in 765.

The position of the leader of Śrīvijaya group might have been given to the king of Śailendra, after its victory over Chen-la army at Chaiya and Nakhon Si Tammarat. The victory of the Śailendra kingdom was commemorated at the Ligor inscription dated 775, in which the hegemony of Śailendra among the Śrīvijaya group was declared.

The title of ‘Mahārāja’ was given to the king of Śailendra. Formerly Śailendra was one of the Śrīvijaya’s fourteen subordinate city-states. The Xin Tang-Shu(新唐書)says Śrīvijaya had fourteen of vassal states and was governed separately by two administrative divisions. The names of these states were not recorded but apparently Śailendra (Śrīvijaya Java) was one of them, and Palembang and Jambi too. There is no evidence Palembang was the center of the Śrīvijaya empire.


It is quite mysterious that Śailendra sent embassies to the Tang Dynasty under the name of Kha-ling (Ho-ling=訶陵), and the court of the Tang Dynasty seemed unaware of Śrīvijaya’s disappearance and at the same time the ruler of Kha-ling had changed from Sanjaya to Śailendra. As a matter of fact, Śailendra did not inform the Tang Dynasty that they established helm in the central Java. Many things were behind curtain, but important changes happened since the second half of the seventh century in the Malay Peninsula, the Sumatra Island and Java.

In Java Sanjaya and Śailendra might have been co-existing after the invasion of Śailendra, which probably occurred around in 686. The kingship of Sanjaya might have been pushed away to the east Java, where had been more productive and more populated.

 These political changes in the seventh century at the middle of the Malay Peninsula ware not mentioned in any chronicles, but the occupation of Chaiya by Chen-la and the revenge of Śrīvijaya was what really happened. The Ligor inscription dated in 775, suggested the events. At the same time, Śailendra invaded Cambodia and Champa in 767, 774 and 787. As a matter of course, the international political power of Chen-la declined after these events until the twelfth century.


Before construction of the Ligor inscription in 775, Śailendra might have conquered temporarily the southern part of Chen-la, and the Mahayana Buddhism was forced to prevail in Cambodia. I-Ching recorded in the last quarter of the seventh century, in Cambodia Hinduism was strongly prevailed and no Buddhist monk was seen there. Probably most of Buddhist monks were expelled from the old land of Funan. 

Apparently the kings of Funan believed in Buddhism, and the rulers of Chen-la hated Buddhism as the religion of the Funan kingship. The rulers of Pan-pan were Buddhists though they accepted Brahmans from India and gave them livelihood. Buddhism was necessary for Funan and Pan-pan, because the Chinese Emperors were keen devotees of Buddhism.

Chen-la sent embassies to China in 780, 798, 813 and 814 perhaps under the auspice of Śailendras. However after 814 Chen-la completely stopped sending envoy to China for more than three hundred years. Chen-la (Angkor) resumed sending its own embassy in 1116, under the reign of Sūryavarman II (1113~52?), who built Angkor Wat.

The power of Śailendras did not decline at the end of the eighth century. Perhaps Jayavarman II was a sponsored king of Śailendras and his declaration of independence might have been a kind of ‘pretentious announcement’ for Cambodian people. After the declaration of independence, he had not been treacherous to Śrīvijaya


R.C. Majumdar says:

Taking Java of the inscription to be identical with Zābag of the Arabian account, it is reasonable to refer the ‘old’ story of Sulaymān to the same period.Sulaymān told that Zabag king invaded Chen-la with big navy and beheaded the king of Chen-la and afterwards returned his head which was well washed and embalmed, to the prince of Chen-la. [4]* This story sounds like fictitious, but the process of the history tells us the supremacy of Śrīvijaya over Chen-la for long time. Once Chen-la kicked out Funan from Cambodia and the lower Mekong delta area in the middle of the sixth century, but the descendants of Funan became very strong as Śrīvijaya at the middle of the eighth century and defeated Chen-la.


Jayavarman II


Jayavarman II, who might have been captured by Śailendras at Chaiya district and sent to Java, came back to Cambodia and declared ‘independence’ from Java in 802. Coedès says that the liberation of Cambodia from the suzerainty of Java was the work of Jayavarman II, founder of the kingdom of Angkor. But whether Jayavarman II was entirely free from Java is dubious. Coedès considers that Jayavarman II 'no doubt took refuge in Java during the disturbances over the succession.’ Coedès elaborates further ‘Jayavarman II’s return from Java, perhaps motivated by the weakening of Śailendras on the island, took place around 800, for we have abundant evidence that the effective beginning of the reign was 802.’ [5]*

My understanding is that before and after the declaration of independence, Jayavarman II had been under the thumb of Śailendras and he did not seem to take refuge ‘voluntarily’ to Java. Perhaps he was captured near Chaiya or Nakhon Si Tammarat with his family and was forced to go to Java. Coedès points out that’ the influence of Śailendras is apparent that in 791, some rulers of Cambodia erected an image of the Bodhisattva Lokeśvara at Prasat Ta Keām.’[6]*

Jayavarman II reigned until 869, but the last tribute from ‘land Chen-la (陸真臘)’ was in 798. The ‘water Chen-la (水真臘)’ [7]*sent tribute to the Tang court in 813 and 814. However Chen-la totally stopped sending embassies until 1120. If Jayavarman II regained real independence, he should not have stopped sending envoys with tribute all of a sudden, because trade with China was big financial resource.

This nearly three hundred years interval suggests the continuation of the suppression from Śrīvijaya (Śailendra and San-fo-shi) against Chen-la. The helm of Śailendra was still in Java at the beginning of the ninth century. Śailendra started construction of the Mahayana Buddhist temple of Borobudur at that time. At the early stage of the ninth century Samaratuńga, the Mahārāja of Śailendra still dominated the central Java and Jayavarman II was perhaps under his control. Of course Chen-la could have traded with China, however the record of the tributary missions was not found in the Chinese chronicles after 814.


Trans Peninsula Routes


Southern Indian merchants crossed the Bengal bay to the Malay Peninsula ports such as Kedah and Takua Pa with the south-west monsoon, but from there they could not proceed to the south end of the Malacca Strait due to the seasonal headwind. So they had to wait for the northeast monsoon for several months

However they found out the solution to save time and cost. They developed and used the trans-land route to the east coast of the Peninsula such as Chaiya, Nakhon Si Tammarart, Songkhla, Pattani, and Kelantan from the west coast harbors such as Takua Pa, Krabi, Khlong Thom, Trang and Kedah. There existed major three routes before the Tang times. In these port-cities, the population of Indian immigrants had been traditionally thick.


The First route: The shortest route was from Takua Pa to Chaiya course near the Kra isthmus, which had been used by Funan for several centuries. I call this route as ‘A-route’.

The Second route: From Kedah to Songkhla, Pattani and Kelantan is called ‘B-route’. This route had been the largest before fifteenth century as the merchants ship increased from the Southern India, Arab and Persia which crossed the Bay of Bengal and directly sailed to the Malay Peninsula.

The Third route: From Krabi, Khlong Thom and Trang to Nakhon Si Tammarat, supposedly old Langkasuka (Lang-ya-su,狼牙須). This route was intermediate one between route A and B. The history of this route began at the third century, but perhaps Langkasuka was conquered by Fan-Shi-Man (范師曼) of Funan.

 I call this route as ‘C-route’. This C-route was absorbed before the Sui Dynasty by the ruler of B-route, namely Kan-tou-li which later became Chi-tu (赤土). The origin of Chi-tu is not clear at all and we can recognize it only by the Sui-Shu, however it is highly probable the location of Chi-tu was in the middle of the Peninsula and had strong connection with Kedah.



The route from Takua Pa to Chaiya is the shortest, nearly 100 kilometers length, near the Kra isthmus. In the third century, Funan king Fan-Shi-Man conquered this region and kept this Takua Pa to Chaiya route as the main route of their trade with the West including India, Ceylon, Persia and Arab.

Through this route, Indian culture, Buddhism came to Pan-pan and Funan. At the Tang times, at Pan-pan, there were more than ten Buddhist temples. After collapse of Funan in Cambodia, the ruling class of Funan went into exile to Pan-pan and re-established the helm and developed the Śrīvijaya Empire. Funan brought their navy with them and kept dominating the Gulf of Siam.



The historical states belonging to ‘B-route’, recorded as tributary countries to China are as follows;

     Kha-la-tan (Ho-lo-tan=呵羅単); 430~452

     Kan-tou-li (Kan-da-li=干陀利)441563

     Tan-tan (丹丹、単単)531616

     Chi-tu (赤土)608610

      Pohang (婆皇)442466 and Po-da (婆達) or Java-Po-da(闍婆婆達) : 435~451


     Kha-la-tan (Ho-lo-tan=呵羅単)was located at the east coast of the Malay Peninsula, which might be economically and politically connected with Kedah (‘Kha-la’ suggests Kalah=Kedah) . Kha-la-tan was known to China as a Buddhist country. Nowadays many scholars believe Kha-la-tan was a part of Java. But nobody identified its location, because in the first half of the fifth century, Buddhist countries never existed in the Java Island. Moreover the concept of Java(闍婆) was vague in the fifth century. Even in the thirteenth century, Marco Polo called the Sumatra Island as ‘Small Java’.


Kha-la-tan sent embassies to the First Sung (420~479) in 430, 433, 434, 435, 436, 437, 452 and stopped suddenly. If Kha-la-tan was a state in the Java Island, what country was the successor of Kha-la-tan? Perhaps the first country which sent embassies to China from the central Java was Kha-ling (Ho-ling 訶陵) in 640. If Kha-la-tan was located in Java, nearly two hundred years absence is quite unrealistic. On the other hand Kan-tuo-li (干陁利) started tribute to China in 441, which looked like the successor of Kha-la-tan. Kan-tuo-li is without doubt Kedah and not Sumatra.


RC Majumdar says, believing Kha-la-tan located in Java;

It is not clear whether Ho-lo-tan (Kha-la-tan) denotes a kingdom comprising the whole of the island of Java, or merely one of the many kingdoms into which island was divided. The statement in the ‘History of the First Sung Dynasty’ that “the kingdom of Ho-lo-tan ruled over the island of She-po (Java) would , no doubt, incline us to accept the former view, but certain details, preserved in the same name would favor the latter.” [8]*

If we are to judge from the existing antiquarian remains in Java, we may presume that the kingdom of Ho-lo-tan represents the kingdom in Western Java ruled over by Pūrnavarman. For that is the only kingdom in Java of which the existence in the fifth century is established by epigraphic evidence.[9]*


This Majumdar’s theory is broadly accepted by many historians, but the kingdom of Pūrnavarman was Taruma and its economic relation with India and China was not so strong. Taruma is not Ho-lo-tan (Kha-la-tan) and not a country of Buddhism.


Kha-la-tan sent several embassies and disappeared from the record of the First Sung in 430~452. Then who was the successor?  We have two candidates, Tan-tan(丹丹) and or Kha-ling(訶陵).

Kha-ling was apparently the state of central Java which sent the first mission in 640. However these 200 years absence is not realistic. We cannot directly link Kha-la-tan to Kha-ling. Kha-ling could not be an immediate successor of Kha-la-tan. In the first half of the fifth century, the Java Island could not be well developed enough to trade frequently with China. To trade with China, any country should have the strong economic relations with India or produced sufficient volume of precious goods such as gold and silver ware.


The History of the First Sung Dynasty (Sung-Shu、宋書) says that Mahayana Buddhism was flourishing in Kha-la-tan, but there exists no remains of Buddhism in Java of the fifth century. Buddhism flourished in Java under the Śailendra Dynasty. So, Kha-la-tan could not have been in Java, but was located in the eastern part of the Malay Peninsula. I suppose that Kha-la-tan should be identified as Kelantan in Malaysia and was a trade center of the South China Sea strongly connected with Kedah. There is some possibility that Kha-la-tan had economic or commercial relation with a part of the island of Java. Java people might bring their products to Kelantan which Fan-Shi-Man (范師曼) had trade route to China and Champa. In other words, Kelantan might be an entrepôt of this area including Java and the southern part of the Malay Peninsula.

The ambassadors of Kelantan possibly exaggerated the presence of the kingdom. But, the main business route was connected with Kedah, where was the major port for Indian merchants. The name of ‘Kha-la-tan’ suggests its special connection with old Kedah. In the early fifth century the function of Kedah began as an international trading port. The merchants of Kedah needed exporting ports at the east coast of the Malay Peninsula. However Funan dominated Chaiya, a major port of the Peninsula, so Kedah merchants had to develop their own port remote from the Funan territory. In this context, Kelantan area must have been the most suitable place for them. The southern ports, such as Kekantan, Terengganu and Pahang might have been out of Funan’s direct control. Funan mainly used Pan-pan (Chaiya) for its trade with India via Takua Pa.


G. Coedès talks about Chi-tu (赤土) and Kelantan:

 The most interesting document comes from the northern district of Province Wellesley. It is an inscription carved on the upper part of a pillar, on each side of which is determined a sutopa crowned by a seven tiered parasol. The Sanskrit text consists of a Buddha stanza and a prayer for successful voyage formulated by the master of the junk (mahānāvika), Buddhagupta, of the Red-Earth Land (Raktamrittikā). The script seems to date from the middle of the fifth century.

This Red-Earth Land, known to the Chinese under the name Chi-tu(赤土), must have been located on the Gulf of Siam, in the region of Phatthalung or Kelantan. The Chinese do not speak of it before 607, but it had by then already existed at least a century and a half, as we have seen, it is mentioned in the inscription of Buddhagupta.”[10]*


This understanding of Coedès is reasonable, but our concern is how Chi-tu became the major player in the Malay Peninsula and why disappeared suddenly after 609. And if Chi-tu had relation with Kedah, what happened to Kan-tuo-li? We have still many questions unanswered.

Apparently, as early as the fifth century Kedah area was important harbor for the western merchants especially from the south India. Kedah provided them good and safe accommodation and sufficient rice and fresh water. At the earlier stage Indian merchants came from the north and they went to the Burma ports and Takua Pa. Takua Pa was connected to Funan through Pan-pan.

For Kedah, the role of Kha-la-tan located in the east coast was very important, from where Indian merchants could re-export their goods to China. Otherwise the merchants of Kedah had to sail to Malayu area and wait there for several months to get the south-west monsoon wind to go to China. Apparently it was a waste of nearly six months.

The evidence that Kha-la-tan had located in Java has never been found, except in the description in the text of the “History of the First Sung Dynasty” that “Ho-la-tan governs or controls She-po Shu (訶羅単治闍婆州).  The text did not mention that Kha-la-tan was located in the Java Island, nor Kha-la-tan had its capital there.


In this case ‘Shu()’ is not a state nor country. The original meaning of’ shu’ is ‘lands in river streams’. She-po Shu(闍婆州) means islands and peninsula around the Java Sea, not an integrated state. She-po is another name of ‘Java’. Without doubt, in the fifth century, Kha-la-tan (or Ho-la-tan) was the strongest country among She-po Shu and perhaps dominating it with international trade. However Kha-la-tan was not necessarily a part of the Java Island. Probably the ambassador of Kha-la-tan might have exaggerated its power, but it is not sure that Kha-la-tan actually governed or controlled ‘the Java Island’.


 Kan-tuo-li(干陁利) is Kandari(干陀利)or Kadāra, which means Kedah in the Tamil pronunciation. Here I introduce two explanations.


R.C. Majumdar writes;

I hold the view that it (Kan-tuo-li) represents ancient Kadāra, a state in the Malay Peninsula. The Indian kingdom of Kan-tuo-li had been established in Malay Peninsula by the fifth century A.D., and it flourished at least from 455 to 563.”[11]*


G. Coedès writes as follows;

Kan-tou-li, first mentioned in the History of the Liang in connection with events occurring in the middle of the fifth century, is located by general agreement in Sumatra.

It presumably preceded Śrīvijaya and may have had its center at Jambi. Between 454 and 464, a king of Kan-tou-li, whose name in Chinese characters can be restored to Śrī Varanarendra, sent the Hindu Rudra on an embassy to China. In 502 a Buddhist king, Gautama Subhadra, was reigning. His son, Vijayavarman, sent an embassy to China in 519.[12]*


O.W. Wolters also insists that Kan-tuo-li flourished as the chief trading kingdom of south-eastern Sumatra. [13]*

G. Coedès insists that Kan-tuo-li is located ‘by general agreement’ in Sumatra. However the location of a certain state could not be decided by majority of historians. Kan-tuo-li was without doubt Kedah as Majumdar insists. According to the Liang Shu, the family name of the king was ‘Qu-tan’(瞿曇=Gautama).  In 502, king Qu-tan Shuvadara (瞿曇修跋陁羅) sent an envoy to the Liang court. He pretended himself as a devotee of Buddhism in his letter to the Emperor of Liang, Gao-zu Wu-di (高祖武帝). Furthermore the king of Chi-tu (赤土国) had the same family name as ‘Qu-tan’.


Tan-tan(丹丹) was somewhat ambiguous, but might be considered Kelantan, which has been  one of major ports in the east coast of Malay Peninsula. The Liang’s officials might have taken ‘tan’ from Kha-la-tan for their convenience. I presume Tan-tan was a successor of Kha-la-tan located at Kelantan in Malaysia.

Tan-tan and Pan-pan are intimate countries and both sent embassies to the Sui court in 616.

According to the Sui-shu, ‘Tan-tan and Pan-pan, from the southern regions, came to offer the produce of their countries as tribute. Their customs and products are generally speaking similar.


     Chi-tu(赤土)was a typical state covering “B-route” from Kedah to the east coast ports such as Songkhla and Pattani. Chi-tu means 'Red Earth'. In the Malay language, it is called ‘Tanah Merah’. ‘Tana’ is ’earth’ and ‘Merah’ is ‘red’. In Malaysia, there is a city called Tanah Merah in the Kelantan State, near Kota Bahru but there are some more towns with the same name. Moreover, the ancient Tanah Merah might have nothing to do with the modern Tanah Merah. Judging from the record of Chang-jun (常駿) in the Sui Shu, Chi-tu might cover from the east coast to the west coast in the Malay Peninsula. As G. Coedès suggests Chi-tu might have strong relation with Kedah.[14]*


The Sui-shu (隋書)says as follows:

The kingdom of Chi-tu, another kind of Funan, is situated in the South Seas. By sea one reaches it in more than a hundred days. The color of the soil of the capital is mostly red, whence is derived the name of the country. Eastwards is the kingdom of Bo-luo-la (波羅剌), Westwards is Po-luo-suo(婆羅娑), Southwards is Kha-la-tan(訶羅旦), Northwards it faces the ocean. The country is several thousand li in extent. The king’s family name is ‘Qu-tan’(瞿曇=Gautama), his personal name is Li-fu-duo-sai (利富多塞).


If Kha-la-tan were identified as Kelantan, Chi-tu might be its northern neighbor, such as Songkhla and/or Pattani.

In the first decade of the seventh century, Chi-tu dominated middle of the Malay Peninsula excluding Pan-pan. And considering the king’s family name of Kan-tuo-li and Chi-tu, Chi-tu was a possible successor of Kan-tuo-li(干陁利)

Probably Kan-tuo-li might have merged Lang-ya-su (狼牙須=Langkasuka) and changed its name to Chi-tu when sending embassies to the Sui. Usually tributary countries were prohibited to merge or invade other tributaries under the rule of China emperors. However, a peaceful merger among the tributary states was not prohibited. So, all of a sudden, ‘Chi-tu’ and ‘Shih-li-fo-shi’ emerged.

In the Peninsula, Pan-pan and Tan-tan survived during Chi-tu domination as above mentioned.


      Po-hang (婆皇) and Po-da (婆達)Po-huang (婆皇or媻皇) might be Pahang as R.C. Majumdar suggests. Po-da(婆達or媻達)might be Pattani in the east coast of the Malay Peninsula. The first Sung Dynasty honored Kha-la-tan(訶羅単), Po-huang(婆皇) and Po-da(婆達) for their efforts for tributary missions and treated them equally. Perhaps these three countries came from the similar area, namely the east coast of the Malay Peninsula, even though without clear evidence. I consider there is possibility Po-da is Pattani, because Pattani have its own harbor facing the South China Sea. Po-da is called as Java- Po-da (闍婆媻達), but in this case Java does not mean the Java Island. In the fifth century there could not exist in the Java Island several countries trading with China. Java-Pa-da should be a country located in the Malay Peninsula.

Three countries, Kha-la-tan, Po-huang and Po-da sent embassies, only in the First Sung times (420~479). In the next Liang () times they all disappeared.

 Kan-tuo-li, Tan-tan and Langkasuka were the tributaries from the Malay Peninsula. Especially Kan-tuo-li might have succeeded or taken over the positions of Po-da (Pattani). Tan-tan seems to take over the tributary position of Kha-la-tan (Kelantan) or to be sumply another name of Kha-la-tan of which the last syllabe ‘tan’ was taken for convenience.

Po-huang (Pahang) was famous for its gold-mine, but isolated or a little far from the trans-peninsula trade ‘route B’ from Kedah.



There was a state between A and B route historically. The name of the state was:                                                                                                        

Lang-ya-su (Lamgkasuka=狼牙須)515568


Lang-ya-su (狼牙須) is Langkasuka, even though we cannot find the location on the modern map. Before the Sui () times, its location should be considered modern Nakhon Si Tammarat. In the Sui, the Chinese ambassador Chang-jun (常駿) observed a high mountain from the ship, which might be Mt. Khao Luang (1,855metres), located just behind Nakhon Si Tammarat. In the Chu-fan-chih (諸蕃志) written by Chao Ju-kua(趙汝适)in 1225 , the location of Langkasuka (凌牙斯加,or 狼加西) was identified as Pattani. However Pattani area is mostly plain, there are not high mountains at all.


 According to the ‘Xin Tang-Shu (新唐書)’ Langkasuka was the neighbor state of Pan-pan, and probably in the vicinity of Nakhon Si Tammarat.

 I suppose the name of Langkasuka came from ‘Lan Saka’. Lan Saka is about twenty kilometers behind Nakhon Si Tammarat, and surrounded by high mountains and traditionally a major bypass to the west coast ports, such as Krabi and Trang. 

The commercial routes between the ports of west coast of the Malay Peninsula for instance Krabi, Trang and Kedah to Nakhon Si Tammarat also existed since the ancient time. In the Sui era, Chi-tu seemed to have taken over or merged the whole “B-route”, which was strongly connected with or controlled by Kedah.

I discuss Langkasuka issue later. The location of Lang-ya-su (Lamgkasuka=狼牙須) was not clear, it tributed during 515568. Perhaps before 515, it was under control of Funan. However the influence of Funan began to decline in the early sixth century, so Langkasuka began tribute to China independently. Until 568, Langkasuka competed with Kan-tuo-li (干陀利), but Langkasuka was merged with Kan-tuo-li which formed a new state of ‘Chi-tu’

According to the Liang-shu (梁書), it had history of more than four hundred years at that time, that means Langkasuka was established at the beginning of the second century.

Finally, ‘B-route’ and ‘C-route’ were integrated with ‘new Funan’ based at Pan-pan and formed ‘Shih-li-fo-shi(室利仏逝), the first Śrīvijaya, until 670. After 670, Shih-li-fo-shi became the only one state which sent embassies from the Malay Peninsula.


Shih-li-fo-shi (室利仏逝) was a successor of Funan(扶南) and Pan-pan(盤盤).


Rise and Decline of Funan


Funan(扶南)and Champa(林邑)are well known as the oldest tributary countries to China. It was probably the second century when Funan was founded in the lower valley of the Mekong River. The name of Funan means ‘mountain’ of the old Khmer language ‘bnam’ (the modern Cambodian language is ‘phnom’). According to G.Coedès, the Sanskrit translation of ‘the king of mountain=Himalaya’ is Śailaraja or Parvatabhupala, Funan sent the first mission to the Wu Dynasty () in 225.

The history of Funan is detailed in the Chinese chronicles , especially in the Liang-shu (梁書) and the Nan-Ji-Shu (南斉書).

In the middle of the third century, from the Wu Dynasty, two envoys Kang Tai (康泰) and Chu Ying (朱応), were sent to Funan. Kang Tai wrote that the first king of Funan was an Indian Brahman whose name was Khon-Tien (混填). Khon-Tien means ‘Kaundinya’, so historians call him ‘Kaundinya I’.

According to the legend, Khon-Tien came over to a certain sea shore of Cambodia on a large merchant ship, where he threatened with a ‘divine bow’ a local princess named Liu-ye (柳葉). She surrendered to Khon-Tien and they married. Then they established a new country, Funan.

Dr. Naojiro Sugimoto (杉本直治郎) estimates Funan was founded between the end of the first century and the beginning of the second century.

The Liang-Shu says, the great general Fan-Shi-Man (范師曼) took over the seat of king, Fan-Shi-Man expanded Funan’s territory by conquest with its navy. Funan expanded its territory significantly by navy. He developed a kind of rowing boat of which total length was eight to nine zhang (), around 21m length and width six to seven che (), around 1.6m width. Fan-Shi-Man ordered the construction of large ships and attacked more than ten countries including Chu-to-kun (屈都昆), Chiu-chi(九稚)and Dian-sun(典孫). The location of Chu-to-kun is unknown, but Chiu-chi is supposed to be Takua Pa and Dian-sun is without doubt ‘Tenasserim’, near Mergui in Burma. Dian-sun was the biggest emporium on the Burmese coast

The purpose of Fan-Shi-Man’s invasion was to secure major ports to facilitate Funan’s trade with foreign countries. Especially the ports of Takua Pa and Dian-sun (Tenasserim) were important, but since the fifth century Kedah emerged as the major ports for the south Indian merchant ships. However Kedah was not under control of Funan, so’B-route’ flourished independently.


Funan was basically a kind of merchant state. The local products of Funan were, according to the Liang-shu ‘Gold, silver, copper, tin, agarwood(沉香), ivory ,blue peacock and five color parrot’. Funan had vast arable land, cultivating paddy and the northern part of Funan was a territory of Chen-la (真臘) a major subordinate state of Funan, but in the middle of the sixth century Chen-la militarily surpassed Funan.

Traditionally Funan flourished by international trade. Funan sent embassies to China many times and each time contributed a big amount of precious items, such as aromatics, glass ware, pearl, fine cotton, jewelry, ivory and so on, most of which were imported from the west countries. For Funan, acquiring the imports from the west was vital, because Chinese court preferred these western goods. Funan imported the western goods mainly through the trans-peninsula route especially between Takua Pa and Pan-pan.


(Kaundinya II)

The Liang-Shu says “Chia Chen-ju(憍陳如=Kaundinya II, one of the successors of King Chu Chan-tan (竺栴檀) was originally an Indian Brahman who received a ‘voice of God’ to go to Funan to become the king there. Chia Chen-ju delighted in his heart. He arrived at Pan-pan from India. When the Funanese heard of him, they all welcomed him with pleasure, went before him to choose him as their king. He made many kinds of reformation and applied the advanced Indian systems.”[15]*

G. Coedès says “Around 480 the History of the Southern Ch’i (南斉) speaks for the first time of these king She-yeh pa-mo (Jayavarman=闍耶跋摩) whose family name is Ciao Chen-ju (僑陳如)-that is, descendant of Kaundinya.[16]*


 Funan suffered from political and military pressure of Chen-la gradually, even though Chen-la was a northern vassal state of Funan. However the decline of Funan was not apparent in the early sixth century. Funan sent embassies to China court in the sixth century, 502, 511, 512, 514, 519, 520, 530, 535, 539, 543, 559, 572, 588 and the Xin Tang-Shu recorded two times embassies from during 618~26 and 627~49.

I suppose Funan was expelled from Cambodia by Chen-la at the end of the sixth century, but continued tribute to the Tang Dynasty from Pan-pan which used to be a vassal state of Funan. I hypothesize that the rulers of Funan fled to Pan-pan with its navy after defeat, not to Java as G.Coedès supposed. The army of Chen-la could not pursue the Funan’s rulers due to lack of navy. In other words, Funan maintained sovereignty over the Gulf of Siam. Pan-pan became a tributary country to China during 424~53, in the First Sung (420~479) times. Perhaps Pan-pan was under instruction of Funan. Basically, Pan-pan had been a subordinate state of Funan for long time, perhaps since invasion of Fan-Shi-Man in the early third century.


G. Coedès says;

 “In the second half of the sixth century, Bhavavarman and his cousin Chitrasena attacked Funan and, judging by their inscriptions, pushed their conquest at least up to Kratié on the Mekong, to Buriram between the Mun River and the Dangrek Mountains, and to Mongkolborei west of the Great Lake.”

“The conquest of Funan by Chen-la in the guise of a dynastic quarrel is really the first episode we witness in Cambodia of the “push to the south”, constant latent threat of which we have already seen.”[17]*

After this incident, G. Coedès considered Funan directly moved to Java, and there, established the new dynasty of Śailendra. Other historian, for instance Dr. Rokuro Kuwata thought Funan disappeared from the earth at the end of the sixth century.

However there is no evidence Funan had any political or commercial relations with Java. So the hypothesis of G. Coedès is not solid. Kuwta’s theory seems right, but the rulers of Funan could have easily escaped to Pan-pan, their subordinate state, from where the Funan rulers could continue sending embassies to China. We cannot forget that Funan had utilized Pan-pan as its major trade port and at the same time Pan-pan used to be a subordinate state of Funan.


P. Wheatley writes;

‘On the dissolution of the Funanese empire, its successor, Chen-la, possibly because of its continental origin, failed to consolidate its supremacy over the Malay Peninsula, whereupon the former dependencies in the region hastened to establish their autonomy by dispatching embassies to the Imperial Court of China.[18]*


(Pan-pan became the sanctuary of Funan)

Anyway Chen-la could not pursue Funan rulers militarily across the Bay of Siam (Thai) to Pan-pan, because Chen-la had poor navy. The new Pan-pan under the royal family of Funan sent embassies several times to China.


According to the Tong-Dian(通典), compiled by Du-You(杜祐) in 801, Pan-pan was a small state with no solid city walls and poorly equipped army.

The ordinary people live mostly by the water-side, and in default of city walls erect palisades entirely of short wood.・・・・・The arrows are tipped with stone and the blades of lance with iron.”(百姓多緑水而居国無城皆豎木為柵・・・・・其矢以石為鏃、槊則以鉄為刃)

The ruler of Pan-pan might think it was an international commercial port-city and was guarded by Funanese navy around the Bay of Bandon and the Gulf of Siam and might not suppose to be attacked from behind through land. This small government and navy-oriented military system might be inherited by Shih-li-fo-shi (Śrīvijaya). But actually the army of Chen-la came through the northern part of the Peninsula soon after 742, when the last envoy of Shih-li-fo-shi left China.

It is highly probable that Chaiya and Langkasuka (Nakhon Si Tammarat) were temporarily occupied by Chen-la around 745. The attack of Chen-la was not recorded in any chronicles, but Chen-la increased tributes to China after 750. However Śailendra, one of Śrīvijaya countries counterattacked Chen-la and recovered Chaiya and Nakhon Si Tammarat from Chen-la with strong navy before 767. The memoir of this victory is, without doubt, the ‘Ligor inscription’ dated 775. Śailendra’s navy was the major force among the Śrīvijaya states, even though Śailendra was the new comer among them, which was established after 686 in the central Java.


The cooperation between Funan and Pan-pan concerning ‘China business’ looked very smooth and natural, sending tributary embassies to China alternatively. Pan-pan’s first mission was recorded at the First Sung between 424 and 453. If Funan thought Pan-pan as its competitor, Funan could have eliminated Pan-pan at the earlier stage. Funan’s controlling power and navy were so strong, and Funan would not have allowed Pan-pan’s independent trade activity.

Funan was believed to send the last embassy to China in 572 to the Chin() Dynasty by many historians. They believe soon after that Funan might be expelled by Chen-la and declined rapidly and the relation between Funan and Pan-pan perished at the same time.

However, probably Funan changed its political and economic base to Pan-pan and continued tribute to China. As above mentioned, the name of Funan appeared twice in the early stage of Tang times, sometime in 618~26 and 627~49. However Funan lost influence to the neighbor countries such as Langkasuka and Dvaravati.

A Japanese prominent historian, Dr. Rokuro Kuwata thought the description of the Xin Tang-Shu was dubious. However it was technically possible to send embassies to China from Pan-pan by using the port of Chaiya at the bay of Bandon.


 Some historians exaggerate the effect of the fall of Funan. For instance O.W. Wolters say;

On the coast of mainland Southeast Asia, as a result of the collapse of Funan, there was a political vacuum. Already from the second half of the fifth century missions had occasionally come from Pan-pan and Langkasuka on the Malay Peninsula.[19]*


As for, Langkasuka, it was an independent state for long time, and it had its own traditional trade route from India through the west coast of the Malay Peninsula, such as Krabi and Trang. After the collapse of Funan at the second half of the sixth century (not that of the fifth century), Langkasuka got a free-hand, so it started tributes to China in 568. Dvaravati also sent the first envoy to China in 583. But the missions from Pan-pan had not been affected by ‘the collapse of Funan in Cambodia’, because Pan-pan used to be a direct subordinate city-state of Funan and its security was guarded by Funanese navy. The relation between Funan and Pan-pan had been different from those of other countries.


Chen-la’s tribute

After the collapse of Funan, Chen-la frequently sent embassies to China, in 616, 623, 625, 628, 635, 651, 682, 698, 707, 710 and 717. After 33 years interval Chen-la resumed the tributary in 750, 753, 755, 767, and 769 and after 34 years interval 813 and 814. After 814 Chen-la totally stopped sending embassy to China, probably due to the intervention of Śailendra (Śrīvijaya).

However Chen-la could not enjoy the fruits of the tributary trades with China as expected, because Chen-la had not stable import route of the western goods. The gulf of Siam and the major ports of the Peninsula were under control of Pan-pan and the exiled Funan. So, Chen-la relied on the ports of Burma side for import of the western goods, such as Tenasserim. To send embassies to China, Chen-la found the way to Champa otherwise it used the inland route via Yun-nan (雲南) to Chang-An (長安), the capital of the Tang Dynasty. According to the Jiu Tang-Shu (旧唐書), Emperor Tai-Zong (太宗,626~649) when the envoy of Chen-la came to the court with that of Champa in 628, specially praised the Chen-la mission that the embassies from Chen-la came to the court through ‘land and sea’ with toil and trouble and gave them thick rewards. (「貞観2年、又與林邑国倶来朝献。太宗嘉其陸海疲労、錫賚甚厚。」) Wen-tan(文単) was another name of ‘Land Chen-la(陸真臘)’. The location of Wen-tan is not clear.


On the other hand, Pan-pan also continued tributary missions after the last embassy of Funan (572 A.D.), in 584, 616, 633, 635, 641, 648 and 650~655. Pan-pan seemed not affected by the collapse of Funan at all. However, after the last tribute in 650~655 Pan-pan also disappeared from the chronicles of the Tang Dynasty. The reason why Pan-pan suddenly terminated its tribute to China was not clear. My hypothesis is that Pan-pan changed its name to Śrīvijaya (Shih-li-fo-shi) after taking over Chi-tu (赤土国) which was located at ‘B-route’ zone including Kedah, Songkhla and Pattani and Pan-pan perhaps reported to the Tang Dynasty that Pan-pan and Chi-tu merged and formed new country called Śrīvijaya (Shih-li-fo-shi). Under the leadership of Funan rulers, Pan-pan probably merged and integrated the whole Peninsula including Kedah. I-Ching recorded later that Kedah(羯茶) became the subordinate state of Śrīvijaya(Shih-li-fo-shi).


Around at the early stage of the Tang Dynasty, Pan-pan under control of Funan kingship probably absorbed the Chi-tu and became very big country covering major part of the Malay Peninsula. Śrīvijaya absorbed Tan-tan(丹丹) in the early 670s. Thus Śrīvijaya (Shih-li-fo-shi) established the hegemonies over the Malay Peninsula. According to the Sui-Shu, Tan-tan had kept friendly relations with Pan-pan. The last envoy of Tan-tan to China was in 666. Śrīvijaya (Shih-li-fo-shi) sent the first embassy to the Tang Dynasty during 670~673.


After establishing the hegemony in the Peninsula, the next target of Śrīvijaya was controlling the Straits of Malacca. Śrīvijaya dispatched navy from Kedah to Malayu Shu (末羅瑜州) first, then to Jambi and Palembang. That might have been not difficult job for Śrīvijaya. After the occupation, Śrīvijaya left several ‘inscriptions’ at Palembang, Jambi and the Bangka Island. And finally the force of Śrīvijaya attacked Kha-ling located in the central Java in 686.


The development of Śrīvijaya (Shih-li-fo-shi)


Śrīvijaya (Shih-li-fo-shistarted sending embassies sometime between 670 and 673, not in 695 as G. Coedès considered. I-Ching left Canton at November 671 for India via Śrīvijaya where he recognized existing considerable number of Buddhist temples and respectable monks. The location of Śrīvijaya was without doubt, Pan-pan and its capital was Chaiya.


According to the Tong-dian compiled by Du-You in 801; “There are ten monasteries where Buddhist monks and nuns study their canon. They eat all types of meat but refrain from wine. There is also one monastery of daoshis (道士=religiously advanced devotees) who partake neither of meat nor wine. They study the classic of the Asura king, but they enjoy no great respect. The ordinary Buddhist priests are commonly called pi-chiu (bhiku=比丘), the others ‘tan’ (=greedy)”. [20]*

Du-You says that in Pan-pan (Chaiya), in the Tang times, there are ten Buddhist temples (normally with dormitories) for ordinary monks and nuns and one special temple for higher devotees. Perhaps in the seventh or eighth century, in Chaiya, there were so many Buddhist temples. In other Chinese chronicles, we cannot find any state which had more Buddhist temples than Pan-pan (Chaiya). In the west coast of the Malay Peninsula, Kedah had some Buddhist temples, but I-Ching told nothing of the temples of Kedah.

In the east coast, Nakhon Si Tammarat was a large port-city, but there are not so many archaeological remains belonging to the Tang’s era. In Palembang, there are not so many remains of Buddhist temples.

Probably I-Ching had visited Chaiya on a Persian merchant ship which usually stopped over the commercially frequent port-city. Before leaving China, I-Ching consulted his itinerary plan with several supporters including high government officials. I-Ching could have gathered sufficient information about the Buddhism of Southeast Asia.


The king of Śrīvijaya might be one of the descendants of Funan kings as G. Coedès suggested. The reason why Śrīvijaya (Shih-li-fo-shi) substituted Pan-pan is not clear in any chronicles, but at least any conflict between Pan-pan and Funan was not recorded.

They might have founded the new state named Śrīvijaya (Shih-li-fo-shi) ‘peacefully’ and the Tang Dynasty accepted the new order in the Malay Peninsula smoothly.

Chi-tu sent three consecutive embassies to the Sui Dynasty and the emperor sent the special envoy to Chi-tu, but the Chinese chronicles kept silence about the fate of Chi-tu.

As we know Śrīvijaya continued expansion of its territory to the southwards along the Strait of Malacca, then the southeast of Sumatra including Palembang and Jambi around 680s, then finally occupied Kha-ling (Ho-ling) in the central Java.

Śrīvijaya sent embassies in 670, 701, 716, 722, 724, 741, and after 742 the name of Śrīvijaya also mysteriously disappeared from the Chinese chronicles without any explanation. But the court of the Tang did not recognize the disappearance of Shih-li-fo-shi.


Originally Ho-ling (訶陵) might be pronounced as ‘Kha-ling’ even though the modern Chinese pronunciation is ‘Ho-ling’. The name of 'Kha-ling' had, without doubt, strong relation with Khalinga, an ancient dynasty in the east coast of India, now Orissa district.

Kha-ling sent embassies in 640, 647, 648 and 666. Since then, the name of Kha-ling was not seen in the record book of the Tang for nearly one hundred years. It appeared again in 768, after the name of Śrīvijaya disappeared since 742 and Śailendra established hegemony among Śrīvijaya group since around 768.


Inscriptions of Śrīvijaya in the Palembang area


Śrīvijaya left several inscriptions near Palembang, Jambi and the Bangka Island which were read and interpreted by G. Coedès and other historians.


G. Coedès says;

A group of inscription in Old Malays, four of which were found in Sumatra (three near Palembang, another at Karang Brahi on the upper course of the Batang Hari) and a fifth at Kota Kapur on the island of Bangka, show the existence in 683~686 in Palembang of a Buddhist kingdom that had just conquered the hinterland of Jambi and the island of Bangka and was preparing to launch a military expedition against Java. This kingdom bore the name Śrīvijaya, which correspond exactly to I-Ching’s (Shih li-) fo-shih. (p82)

 “The oldest of the three inscriptions from Palembang, the one that is engraved on a large stone at Kedukan Bukit, at the foot of the hill of Seguntung, tells us that on April 23, 682, a king began an expedition (siddhayātrā) by boat, that on May 19 he left an estuary with an army moving simultaneously land and sea, and that, a month later, he brought victory, power, and wealth to Śrīvijaya.”[21]*


The Kedukan Bukit inscription

The first is the Kedukan Bukit inscription. In which, the name of king was described only as “dapunta hiyam”. It is not so clear that the name means the title of the supreme commander or the king of Śrīvijaya. The contents of this inscription are simple. The army of Śrīvijaya attacked this place and made victory. It took nearly one month for the army to arrive the battle field, and another month to confirm final victory. They came over the place with 200 boats and the number of foot soldiers was 1,312. This inscription is the memoir of their victory. Apparently the army came from outside of Palembang. But it does not mention that the capital of Śrīvijaya was Palembang.

There are some questions to be clarified in this inscription. The first is from where this army came from? The answer has not been clearly given, but it is almost certain that they came from the Malay Peninsula, perhaps dispatched from Kedah. Śrivijaya had traditionally an army of high-speed boats inherited from the Funan times, legacy of King Fan-shi-man. It might take nearly one month from Kedah to cross over the Strait of Malacca to arrive at the estuary of the Musi River. After some preparation, the army probably went up the Musi River and attacked Palembang.


The second question is number of army. The Kedukan Bukit inscription states that number was ‘dualaksa’ which means ’20,000’. However 20,000 was too many, even the fleet of Zheng He (鄭和), total number of crew was 28,000 in the early fifteenth century. In the contemporary Indonesian dictionary, ‘laksa’ means ’10,000’.  But in the late seventh century, Śrīvijaya could not mobilize such a big number of soldiers, so the recent interpretation is ‘dualaksa’ was ‘2,000’ which sounds more realistic.


The Talang Towo inscription

There is the second inscription named “Talang Towo” which is dated on March, 684, nearly two years later than Kedukan Bukit inscription. Talang Towo is at five kilometers northwest of Seguntung where Śrīvijaya founded a public park planting fruit trees. The Talang Towo inscription is to commemorate the opening and to honor king Jayanāśa of Śrīvijaya as the founder of the park. Notably, on the stone, the king expressed the wish to receive the ‘merit’ by his deed and to bring the happiness to the local people, using several Mahayana Buddhism words. Apparently king Jayanāśa’s intension was to propagate the belief of Mahayana Buddhism to the residents and at the same time justification of the Śrīvijaya’s sovereignty in this area.


The Talaga Batu inscription

The third inscription found at Palembang area is Telaga Batu (or Sabokingking) inscription, which was a water-oath stone used by the ruler to ensure the loyalty of the local people and government officials for the authorities. The text of the inscription is ‘curse formulas’ promising supernatural and corporal punishment for them who broke the oath. The purpose of the inscription was apparently to threaten the residents and government officials not to betray the new conqueror, Śrīvijaya. If Śrīvijaya had governed Palembang area for long time, this kind of water-oath stone might not be needed. The meaning of this inscription is that Śrīvijaya was pulling out most of its army from this area to prepare expedition to Java after 686.


The Kota Kapur Inscription

Why Śrīvijaya left these three inscriptions threatening local people? The key to solve this question is the next inscription which located at Kota Kapur, in the island of Bangka. Śrīvijaya had to pull out most part of its army from the newly occupied area, Palembang and Jambi, because Śrīvijaya had another plan to send the expedition against Kha-ling in Java from the base of the Bangka Island.


G. Coedès does not touch Telaga Batu inscription, but continues further:

As for the three other inscriptions, one of which is dated February 28, 686, we wonder if the conquests that they imply do not represent the continuation of the expansionist policy commemorated by the stone of Kedukan Bukit. These three texts, in part identical, deliver threats and maledictions against any inhabitants of the upper Batang Hari (the river of Jambi whose basin must have constituted the territory of Malāyu) and of the island of Bangka who might commit acts of insubordination toward the king and toward the officials he had placed at the head of the provincial administration. The inscription of Bangka closes by mentioning the departure of an expedition against the unsubdued land of Java in 686.


The ‘unsubdued land of Java’ means ‘Kha-ling (訶陵)’ a rival of Śrīvijaya, not the ancient Tārumā kingdom as G. Coedès insists below.

Two stones of Jambi (Batang Hari) and the island of Bangka (Kota Kapur) have almost same contents threatening the inhabitants. The meaning of Kota Kapur inscription has closing words that the army of Śrīvijaya would go to Java as above mentioned by G. Coedès.

G. Coedès insists as following:


The land referred to may had been the ancient kingdom Tārumā on the other side of the Sunda Strait, which we do not hear spoken of again after its embassy to China in 666-669. Tārumā may have become the nucleus of the expansion of Sumatran influence on the island of Java which is evidenced in the following century by the inscription of Gandasuli in the province of Kedu.[22]*


However we cannot find out the name of Tārumā (多羅磨) as a tributary country in the chronicles of China, instead the name of Kha-ling (or Ho-ling, 訶陵) is recorded on the Ce-fu Yuan-Gui  (冊府元亀), which sent an embassy in 666 and perhaps 670 under the name of Kha-la (訶羅), thereafter the name of Kha-ling disappeared for long time. After nearly one hundred year’s silence, the new Kha-ling (Śailendra) appeared and sent embassy to the Tang Dynasty in 768. As a matter of course, the new Kha-ling was Śailendra which represented Śrīvijaya group. From any other Śrīvijayan State, no embassy was sent to China. Some historians misunderstand that after 742, Śrīvijaya stopped sending embassies to the Tang court until 904.


In 686, from the Bangka Island, Śrīvijaya sent a big army to Java, with speed-boats. It is highly probable that the army of Śrīvijaya easily occupied the strategic part of Kha-ling, but the result of the expedition from the Bangka Island was unknown. However, the victory of Śrīvijaya in Java was certain, because Śrīvijaya set up its government, named Śailendra in the central Java.

All of a sudden the name of Śrīvijaya appeared on the inscription of Ligor dated 775. This tells us that Śrīvijaya succeeded to invade into Java and established the Śailendra kingdom. Actually, Śailendra became one of the vassal states of Śrīvijaya. However G. Coedès says that Śrīvijaya sent army to Taruma (not Ho-ling) in the west Java, and later some of his followers devised ‘Tarumanegara’ in the west Java, which sent embassies to the Tang in 528, 666 and 669. However, unfortunately I cannot find the name of Tarumanegara in the Chinese chronicles who sent envoys to China in the seventh century. Apparently the west Java is wrong direction where was no strong kingdom to trade with the Tang court.

Furthermore, in 1963, at Sojomerto near Pekalongan, an old stone inscription was found, of which date is unclear, but supposed to be enclaved at the seventh century. It is known as ‘Sojomerto Inscription’, on which the name of ‘Dapunta Selendra’ was found. The meaning of the inscription seems very important, because the expedition of Śrīvijaya’s navy might have arrived at Pekalongan, the major port of the central Java. The name of commander was ‘Dapunta Selendra’, who became the king of Śailendra.


 According to the Ce-fu Yuan-Gui (冊府元亀) , Kha-ling (Ho-ling) sent embassies to the Tang in 640, 642, 647, 648 and 666 and its neighbor in the west Java, Da-Po-To (堕婆登) sent an envoy in 647. The location of Da-Po-To is not clear, but the Jiu Tang-Shu says that Da-Po-To is located at the south of Lin-yi (林邑,Champa), two months journey by sea. Its eastern neighbor is Kha-ling and the western neighbor is Mei-Lei-Sha (迷黎車,unknownand the north side is large sea. Hence, there is possibility the location of Da-Po-To was a kingdom in the west Java. In 647, the king of Da-Pa-To sent an envoy to the Tang court and presented Indian cotton clothes, ivories and sandal-wood.

In the west Java, there are three inscriptions with foot-prints related with king Pūrņavarman, whose capital was the city of Tārumā. The forth inscription was found near Tanjong Priok, which describes canal which Pūrņavarman dug. The age of Pūrņavarman’s reign is not clear, but generally supposed at the middle of the fifth century. Perhaps G. Coedès and his followers connect this Taruma with Kha-ling in the central Java. However there is no solid evidence. The inscriptions of Pūrņavarman were all limited around Batavia.

Anyway, the target of Śrīvijaya’s expedition was undoubtedly Kha-ling in the central Java, which had sent embassies a few times and apparently been the rival of Śrīvijaya (Shih-li-fo-shi). 


According to the Xin Tang-Shu (新唐書), Śrīvijaya (Shih-li-fo-shi), had fourteen vassal city-states, and divided them into two administration districts to control the whole empire (有城十四、以二国分総). In the early stage of the Tang times, the kingdom of Kha-ling prospered in the central Java. Śrīvijaya dispatched navy from the base of the Bangka Island in 686 and conquered Kha-ling, which was a kingdom of Sanjaya family. The Xin Tang-Shu tells us that Kha-ling in Java was well governed country, especially with high discipline and moral. There was no theft at all and nobody picked up goods left on the streets.  

When the army of Śrīvijaya arrived at the central Java, the kingdom of Kha-ling might have had insufficient preparation and possibly easily surrendered to Śrīvijaya. Kha-ling might have admitted the supremacy of Śrīvijaya. Perhaps the aim of Śrīvijaya was not to rule the whole territory of the kingdom of Sanjaya, so Śrīvijaya might have selected to co-exist in the same territory. Their common kingdom was the ancient’ Mataram’, originally founded by Sanjaya family.


However, Śrīvijaya (Shih-li-fo-shi) could not report the fact of conquest to the Tang court. Under the Chinese tributary system, the relation between the emperor of China and the kings of tributary countries is like that of a king and subordinates in one state. Quarrels among subordinates were not allowed by Tang, so in this case, Śrīvijaya concealed the conquest of Java. In 768, Śailendra sent envoy to the Tang court, Śailendra pretended that Kha-ling restarted to send mission after one hundred year’s absence. At that time, Śailendra represented Śrīvijaya group, but Śailendra continued to use the name of Kha-ling. So, the Tang court did not aware that Kha-ling was conquered by Śrīvijaya.

 In the Tang court, Śrīvijaya (Shih-li-fo-shi) was not eliminated from their record books, even though Shih-li-fo-shi stopped sending envoy after 741. So, in the head of the Tang officials, in the Malay Peninsula and Java, Shih-li-fo-shi and Kha-ling (Śailendra) probably coexisted. Perhaps Śailendra explained to the Tang officials that its territory covered Java and the Malay Peninsula. Kha-ling (Śailendra) might have sent its envoy’s ship from a port of the east coast of the Malay Peninsula, such as Songkhla or Sathing Phra.


Chen-la occupied Chaiya around 745, but later defeated.


The new ‘Kha-ling (Ho-ling)’ namely Śailendra resumed sending embassies in 768 after Shih-li-fo-shi sent the last embays in 741. During these 27 years, what happened to Shih-li-fo-shi?

Probably Chen-la attacked Chaiya after 742, so the royal family of Shih-li-fo-shi might have fled to the southern districts, presumably to Kedah, Sumatra or Java. Chen-la’s purpose to occupy Chaiya is to obtain one of the trans-peninsula trade routes to import from the west such as India.

But Śrīvijaya group recovered Chaiya and Ligor (Nakhon Si Tammarat) from Chen-la around 765. The main army of Śrīvijaya’s force was without doubt Śailendra’s navy from Java. There is, so-called the ‘Ligor inscription’, which has two sides A and B. A is dated 775 and B has not clear date, which may be much later.

The Vietnamese annals say in 767 Champs was invaded by the army from Java (Śailendra) and K’un-lun (in this case, meaning southern people) but they were expelled. By this time, Khmer in Chaiya and Nakhon Si Tammarat might be attacked by Śailendra. In 768, the new Kha-ling (Śailendra) resumed sending embassy to China. In this campaign, Śailendra became the champion of Śrīvijaya group. Previously, among Śrīvijaya’s vassal city-states, Śailendra was a new comer, and its position was lower. But after Śailendra recovered Chaiya and Nakhon Si Tammarat from Khmer (Chen-la), the position of Śailendras became the strongest among Śrīvijaya group. So, the king of Śailendra was allowed to use the title of ‘Mahārāja’.


Ligor inscription


G. Coedès says;

 “The text of the inscription states that King Vishnu ‘bore the title of mahārāja to indicate that he was a descendant of the family of the Śailendras.’ This king was undoubtedly the king of the inscription Kelurakthat is, Sangrāmadhananjaya.”

 “Although the Śailendras were, as we see, the kings of Śrīvijaya in the eleventh century and undoubtedly also in the tenth, we have no proof that such was the case in the eighth.”[23]*


It is dubious as G. Coedès says that the Śailendras were, as we see, the kings of Śrīvijaya in the eleventh century and undoubtedly also in the tenth. In the times of San-fo-chi during, 904~1178 as recorded in the Chinese chronicles, the role of the Śailendra family was not impressive at all.

Bālaputra was expelled from Java at the middle of the ninth century. The most brilliant time for the Śailendras was apparently at the last quarter of the eighth century. Certainly Bālaputra was a prince of the Śailendra family, but if he was the king of Śrīvijaya was not sure. The final destination of prince Bālaputra was not clear, but he could not be the champion of Śrīvijaya group. At the middle of the ninth century, Jambi was stronger than Śailendra and sent its own envoy to the Tang court in 852 and 871. When Śrīvijaya group formed ‘San-fo-chi ’, the leader of San-fo-chi is unknown. Anyway the political power of Bālaputra declined among the Śrīvijaya group after expelled from Java, even though in the ‘Nalanda copper-plate’ inscription of Devapāla[24]*, Bālaputradeva is described as the king of Suvarnadvipa. However it was a matter of before 850.

 I suppose that Śailendra could not have established the full hegemony in Java, and the Sanjaya-line was still dominant in the eighth century in the central Java. But the Kalasan inscription dated 778 and the Kelurak inscription dated 782 seem to be sufficient evidences for the helm of Śailendra in the central Java in the latter half of the eighth century. Anyway, Śailendra had enough power in Java to dispatch strong navy to defeat Chen-la at Chaiya area and further to send expeditions to Champa several times. After the success of a series of navy operations, Śailendra (Śrīvijaya) established the monopoly of the tributary trade to China from Southeast Asia.


G. Coedès seems that he did not consider the effect of Śrīvijaya’s expedition to Java in 686 from the Bangka Island. He wrote that the target of Śrīvijaya’s expedition was Tārumā and not Kha-ling (Ho-ling). He knew ‘Ho-ling (Kha-ling), but might have forgotten to link the inscription of the Bangka island (Kota Kapur) to Ho-ling, instead he misunderstood the target of Śrīvijaya had been Tārumā in the west Java.

Tārumā certainly left some inscriptions dated presumably around 450. Pūrnavarman was the king of Tārumā, but after him, we heard nothing. I wonder why Śrīvijaya selected Tārumā as the target of expedition, which seemed to have no evidence as a big trading country.


G. Coedès adds;

On the basis of the documents available, Java does not appear to be the native country of the Śailendras of Indonesia, who, as has been, claimed rightly or wrongly to be related to “the kings of the mountain” of Funan.[25]*


This hypothesis is the most important point to the history of Śrīvijaya. However G. Coedès seemed to ignore or neglect the Funan’s relation with Pan-pan and its development as the base of Śrīvijaya (Shih-li-fo-shi). Historically, there were very close relations between Funan and Pan-pan for long time. Actually Kaundinya II who became the king of Funan, came from India through Pan-pan. He assumes that the rulers of Funan directly fled to Java (or Palembang), where they founded the Śrīvijaya (Shih-li-fo-shi). However he seems to ignore the important fact that Kedah was a subordinate state of Śrīvijaya when I-Ching re-visited there on his return from India in 686, but when I-Ching visited for the first time in 672, Kedah might have been a subordinate state of Śrīvijaya.


G. Coedès says;

Śrīvijaya’s expansion northwest toward the Strait of Malacca and southeast toward the Sunda Strait is very clear indication of its design on the two great passages between the Indian Ocean and the China sea, the possession of which was to assure Śrīvijaya of commercial hegemony in Indonesia for several centuries.[26]*


G. Coedès made misunderstanding of the international trade in the Tang and Sung times. The Strait of Sunda was seldom used by the western merchants before the sixteenth century, due to the bad seafaring condition of the south Bengal Sea and unstable condition of the Sunda Strait to pass through. The Sunda Strait was used by European and Arab ships after Portuguese occupied the kingdom of Malacca in 1511. Even Cola did not use the Sunda Strait and occupied Kedah to use the trans-peninsula route.

Furthermore, G. Coedès considers Śrīvijaya attacked Kedah from the Palembang, but his hypothesis is quite unimaginable, because Kedah were more populated state and prosperous compared with Palembang. On the contrary, Śrīvijaya, based in the Malay Peninsula sent big navy to the south of Sumatra and conquered Jambi and Palembang to control the whole Malacca Strait, then in 686 Śrīvijaya dispatched the expedition to the central Java. Śrīvijaya’s target was without doubt Kha-ling. The west Java and the Strait of Sunda were not concerns to Śrīvijaya.  


R.C. Majumdar who discovered the difference of A and B side of the Ligor inscription says;

The inscription A begins with eulogy of Śrī-Vijayendrarāja, and then refers to the building of three brick temples for Buddhist gods by Śrī-Vijayeśvarabhūpati. The inscription B, engraved on the back of the stele, consists of only one verse and a few letters of the second. It contains the eulogy of an emperor having the name of Vishnu. The last line is not quite clear. It seems to refer a lord of the Śailendra Dynasty named Śrī-Mahārāja,…[27]*




Inscriptions of Śailendra in Java


In Indonesia two inscriptions regarding the Śailendra were found. R.C. Majumdar gives explanations of them as follows;


     The Kalasan Inscription dated 778 A.D.

This inscription dated in 778 was discovered at the village of Kalasan in Jogjakarta district. “The preceptors (Guru) of the Śailendra king had a temple of Tārā built with the help of Mahārāja Paňcapana Paņamakaran.”

This sentence is quite confusing, because it suggests existence of two kings in the kingdom of Śailendra. The senior king’s Guru asked to the junior Mahārāja Paňcapana Paņamakaran to help the construction of a temple of Tārā.”

I suppose as follows: At first Paņamakaran was a lower king of the Śailendra family and Paņamakaran was assigned to the commander of Śailendra’s navy. Paņamakaran defeated Chen-la at Chaiya and Nakhon Si Tammarat and he was recommended to take the title of Mahārāja of Śrīvijaya. So, within the Śailendra family, the position of Paņamakarana was elevated to the top position and he was called Mahārāja Paňcapana Paņamakarana in the central Java.

In the Ligor Inscription, Paņamakarana was called ‘the brave enemy killer (viravarimathana)’.


     The Kelurak Inscription Dated 782 A.D.

This inscription was originally situated at Kelurak, to the north of Lolo Jongrang temple at Prambanan in Jogjakarta district.

After praising Buddhist deities, ‘This earth is being protected by the king named Indra, who is an ornament of the Śailendra dynasty and the killer of enemy’s well known hero.’[28]*

Paņamakarana was also praised as a great warrior and commander representing the Śailendra dynasty.


It was not clear why the name of Śailendra did not appear before 778 (the date of the Kalasan Inscription), in front of Java people. But, suddenly, the king named Indra appeared with the title of Mahārāja Panagkaran, who defeated the Chen-la army.

The influence of Mahayana Buddhism emerged strongly in the central Java and the script of northern India which was used in the inscriptions of Kalasan and Kelurak, was apparently owing to this influence of western Bengal and the University of Nālandā.



The Sojomerto Inscription

In addition to the above two inscriptions, one more inscription related with Selendra was found in 1963, in the province of Pekalongan, written in Old Malay language known as the Sojomerto Inscription. Its date is not clear, but is estimated of the seventh century. In this inscription, the name of the ‘Dapunta Selendra’ was found. Selendra is Malay expression of Śailendra in Sanskrit. Dapunta means almost ‘God King’. In the Kedukan Bukit inscription of Palembang, we can find the name of “dapunta hiyam”. So, this ‘dapunta Selendra’ might come from Sumatra or from the Malay Peninsula, presumably as a commander of Śrīvijaya’s army dispatched from the Bangka Island in 686. There is no other evidence, but such a hypothesis may be arguable. In addition, Śrīvijaya’s navy probably occupied Pekalongan, which was a major port of the central Java in ancient time, and probably the major port of old Kha-ling (Sanjaya).

 Dapunta Selendra might be one of kings of the Śrīvijaya Empire, and later become a founder of the Selendra (Śailendra) kingdom. The descendants of Dapunta Selendra survived in the central Java and a few generations later, the name of the Śailendra dynasty came up in the main stream of history. The history of Śrīvijaya in Java started since 686 or 687 when ‘dapunta Selendra’ landed near Pekalongan and conquered the Sanjaya kingdom, who established the Śailendra kingdom. Śailendra coexisted with the Sanjaya kingdom.

The retaliation against Chen-la from Śrīvijaya group was conducted mainly by Śailendra which had large population and could organize big and strong navy. The history of war was not recorded in any chronicle, but the tributary records of Śrīvijaya group tell what happened in this area.

This understanding clarifies the meaning of the Ligor inscription 775 and the development of the kingdom of Śailendra.

The new Kha-ling sent embassies to China in 769, 770, 793, 813, 815, 818 and during 827~35 and 860~73 A.D. In addition to this new ‘Kha-ling’ (actually Śailendra) a country named ‘Java (She-po =闍婆)’ sent embassies to China in 820, 831 and 839. This Java (She-po) was different from Śailendra and it was perhaps the Sanjaya kingship mainly based in the eastern Java and later regained the helm of the central Java.

After establishing the Śailendra kingdom in 686, the kingdom of Śailendra could not send its own embassy to China, because the tributary trade with China had been controlled by the Śrīvijaya’s headquarter, which was probably located at Chaiya until 742. After 742, the name of Shih-li-fo-shi (Śrīvijaya) in the Tang chronicles disappeared until 904.

We cannot forget that new Kha-ling sent embassies to the Tang court, representing whole Śrīvijaya group, and dispatched its ships to China mostly from the east coast of the Malay Peninsula.


The name of the first Mahārāja of Śrīvijaya group was Rakai Paņamkaran (Panagkaran) of Śailendra. Before the erection of Ligor inscription, the Śailendra dynasty began sending embassy to the Tang court, since 768 under the name of Kha-ling (Ho-ling、訶陵)Thus the last subordinate state of Shih-li-fo-shi (Śrīvijaya) became the champion of the group.


G. Coedès writes

 In any case, the appearance in the southern islands of Śailendras, with their imperial title of mahārāja, was, we can safely say, “an international event of importance.[29]*


 However G. Coedès did not elaborate on the meaning of “an international event of importance.”

G. Coedès and his followers could not connect the Kota Kapur inscription of the Bangka Island with Śailendras in the central Java. They ‘sent’ the navy of Shih-li-fo-shi (Śrīvijaya) to the west Java, Tarumanegara, of which existence was quite vague. Shih-li-fo-shi (Śrīvijaya)’s enemy was in the central Java, the kingdom of Sanjaya or ‘Kha-ling’, the real competitor against Shih-li-fo-shi (Śrīvijaya).


There are so many arguments about the relations of Śailendra and Sanjaya. The father of Rakai Paņamkaran with the title of Śrī Mahārāja who became the king of Śailendra, is unknown. Anyway Paņamkaran came from the Śailendra family and he expelled Chen-la from Chaiya. In some inscriptions, Paņamkaran’s epithet is ‘a killer of proud enemies’ or ‘the jewel of Śailendra family’. From this, he might be a strong army commander. His son and successor is Samaratunga, who might be Samaragravira. Samaratunga had married Tārā, the daughter of Dharmasetu, leading king of the Śrīvijaya Empire, and got a son named (deva). Samaratunga had the first wife, with whom he got a daughter, princess Prāmodāwarddhanī. Later princess Prāmodāwarddhanī married to Rakai Pikatan. And prince Bālaputra (deva) was defeated by Pikatan and exiled to Suvernadvipa (Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula), the traditional Śrīvijaya before 686.

Even though Paņamkaran and Samaratunga belonged to Śailendra family, they became the kings of the ‘Mataram dynasty’. Sanjaya family had inherited ‘Mataram dynasty’ for long time.  As above mentioned, Śailendra family was a new comer in the central Java, and they could not (or did not) expel Sanjaya by force. In a sense, both families coexisted ‘peacefully’ for long time. Śailendra family believed in Mahayana Buddhism and Sanjaya family Hinduism (Sivaism). However, in the middle of the seventh century, Paņamkaran from Śailendra family probably took over the seat of the Mataram king. The kingship of the Mataram was succeeded to his son, Samaratunga (Samaragravira).

However after the death of Samaratunga, the situation changed unfavorably for the Śailendra family. Finally prince Bālaputra left Java and became the Mahārāja of Suvernadvipa.

There may be some argument that Bālaputra had the political power in Suvernadvipa. His grand father and father had left some heritage to him, so Bālaputra was probably respected by many of the Śrīvijayan kings. However Śailendra kingdom substantially disappeared in the central Java after Samaratunga died, even though Prāmodāwarddhanī, sister of Bālaputra, retained some political influence as the queen of Rakai Pikatan. Anyway prince Bālaputra must establish his own helm in Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula (Suvernadvipa).


The problems of the Palembang theory


The “Palembang theory” established mainly by G. Coedès is very long-lasting, and survives more than 100 years. G. Coedès wrote that the placing of Shih-li-fo-shi at Palembang was proposed in 1886 by Samuel Beal. Actually a Japanese scholar, Dr. Takakusu’s influence has been prominent even until today.


Dr. J. Takakusu ‘misguided’ I-Ching

The first book of the ‘Palembang theory’ may be “A Record of the BUDDHIST RELIGION as practiced in India and the Malay Archipelago” written by Dr. Jyunjiro Takakusu (高楠順次郎), published by Oxford University Press in 1896.[30]*①

In this book, Dr. J. Takakusu attached a sheet of map to his book, which showed the voyage route of I-Ching from Canton to Tamluk (Tāmraliptī), the major port of Bengal.[31]* By his drawing , I-Ching went to Palembang first, then went to Aceh (Achin) of the north Sumatra.via Malayu.

Most of the historians have believed easily what Dr. Takakusu wrote correctly, because he was respected as a prominent expert of Buddhism.

 But I-Ching wrote simply that he landed at Shih-li-fo-shi and there he studied the Sanskrit language for six months but never mentioned its exact location. Next he went to Malayu (末羅瑜), by a king’s ship, where was the sea-area near Jambi in Sumatra.

There was no evidence at all that I-Ching went to Palembang. The Persian ship, on which I-Ching embarked, had no reason to go to Palembang which had little commodities to sell and often thought to be a sanctuary for the pirates. On the contrary, the Persian ship might have stopped over at Chaiya which was an important commercial port at that time and they exchanged some commodities there.


 According to ‘the Memoir on the Eminent Monks who sought the Law in the West during the Great Tang Dynasty (大唐西域求法高僧伝)’ by I-Ching, he sailed from Canton on the north-east monsoon in 671 boarding a Persian merchant ship. He arrived at Shih-li-fo-shi (室利仏逝、Śrīvijaya) within twenty day’s journey. After six months learning the Sanskrit grammar, the king kindly sent him to the country of Malayu (末羅瑜国), where he stayed for two months. Then he changed direction to go up to Kedah.’ Here, I-Ching used important words, ‘change direction (転向). If he came from Palembang, he did not use the words ‘change direction’, because the route from Palembang to Malayu, and to Kedah is almost straight line. I-Ching meant to change direction at Malayu, because he came down from the north (probably Chaiya) to Malayu, where he waited for two months for a ship and convenient wind then he went up to Kedah though the Malacca Strait to the northwards.

At that time in 672, Malayu was a friendly country for Shih-li-fo-shi, more than ten years later Malayu became a subordinate state of Shih-li-fo-shi. When I-Ching stopped over Kedah in 672, Kedah was probably a part of the kingdom of Śrīvijaya and a major port of the west coast of the Malay Peninsula. It is quite curious why G. Coedès did not put much importance on Kedah. Kedah was much more important to control the Strait of Malacca than Palembang, because most ships from the west, Arab, Persia, Ceylon and India had to stay at the port of Kedah area, waiting for the north-east monsoon wind.

Kedah was the most frequent port for the south Indian and other western traders, because it was a terminal and entrepôt of the trading goods. The ships from the southern India or Ceylon usually crossed the Bay of Bengal using the monsoon wind from the south-west in summer time, and arrived at Kedah or other ports near the Kra Isthmus. But for some months, they must wait there for the northeast wind to go down the Strait of Malacca. It was a considerable waste of time for them. So they developed the trans-peninsular route to the east coast of the Malay Peninsula. The most famous route is the Takua Pa to Chaiya route, which was used traditionally by Funan.


Dr. Takakusu misunderstood Ka-cha (羯茶) was Achin (Aceh), the biggest port of the north Sumatra. But Ka-cha was Kedah, now a ‘state’ of Malaysia near the Penang Island.

Kedah provided favorable accommodation to the western merchant ships with water and rice and safe harbors along the Merbok and Muda River. From Kedah, the western commodities were transported via the overland route to the east coast of the Malay Peninsula such as Songkhla, Pattani and Kelantan and later to Nakhon Si Tammarat (Ligor). At first, most of the western merchants sold their goods at the west ports of the Malay Peninsula such as Takua Pa, Trang and Kedah. In this case, they could save time, but they found that the direct trade with China would be more profitable.

The first Persian embassy to China was in 533, to the Liang Dynasty and the first from Arab was in 651 to the Tang Dynasty. The number of embassies of and Arab increased rapidly. At the first stage of the Tang Dynasty, during 648 and 767, Persia sent at least 27 embassies and Arab sent more than 29 envoys. This frequency gave great shock to Shih-li-fo-shi (Śrīvijaya), because they were not able to import the western goods sufficiently, especially frankincense (乳香) .

After Śailendra (new Kha-ling) established hegemony and started envoy in 768, Arab and Persia reduced tributary embassies to Tang decreased dramatically. Arab sent embassies in 769, 772, 791 and Persia in 771.


I-Ching wrote ‘the Memoir on the Eminent Monks who sought the Law in the West during the Great Tang Dynasty.’ The Memoir consisted of around sixty Buddhist monks who undertook pilgrimages to India in the second half of the seventh century. One of them, Wu-Xing (無行) sailed from China in the time of east wind (that is the north-east monsoon in winter) and arrived at Shih-li-fo-shi after a month. The king of Shih-li-fo-shi sent him to Malayu (near Jambi) with his ship and it took fifteen days and from there to Kedah state it took another fifteen days. If Shih-li-fo-shi was Palembang, the journey between Palembang and Malayu took only a few days. It is obvious that Shih-li-fo-shi could not be Palembang. (後乗王舶経十五日達末羅瑜州。又十五日到羯茶国。)


Our problem is if Shih-li-fo-shi located Palembang, the whole history of old Southeast Asia was distorted significantly, especially the trade route between the East and West.

Moreover the students may be discouraged to study more if ‘Palembang theory’ would survive in the future without scientific analysis.

By-products of the Palembang theory, the excessive importance was attached to the Sumatra Island compared with the Malay Peninsula. Actually Sumatra produced gold and some kind of aromatic woods and spices like pepper, but basically was not suitable to cultivate water rice. As a consequence its population was not so big to sustain big cities and armed forces. Palembang was surrounded by swamp land and had little rice field in its vicinity.


I-Ching recorded at Shih-li-fo-shi there were 1,000 monks, but no significant remains of big temples and accommodations were found in Palembang. Moreover Dr. G. Coedès thought Śrīvijaya kept huge armed force there and conquered its neighbor countries. If so, the population of Palembang might be tens of thousands. Was it probable in the seventh century?


Dr. Quaritch Wales writes in his ‘Towards Angkor (p172, foot note) as follows;

 In a recent criticism of my views G. Coedès, while admitting that a kind of sub-capital probably existed in the northern part of the Malay Peninsula, still supports his original contention that Palembang was the seat of the Mahārāja and capital of Śailendra Empire, dismissing Chaiya mainly on the ground that its position at the bottom of a cul-de-sac (dead end) and its distance from the Strait make it geographically impossible for it to have controlled this important waterway. His objection would indeed offer a very difficulty if we had to suppose that Chaiya was obliged to control the Strait directly, especially in the North-east monsoon period. But Arab texts and South Indian inscriptions repeatedly refer to Kedah in such a way that we must conclude that it was the chief port of the Empire, and there was always easy overland communications between Kedah and Chaiya-Nakhon Śri Tammarat region. Moreover, Kedah Situated at the western entrance to the Strait, and in opposition to patrol them throughout their length, certainly seems better placed to exercise this control than Palembang, which lies fifty miles up a river, the mouth of which is 250 miles distance from Singapore.”[32]*


According to the ‘New History of the Tang’ or the ‘Xin Tang-Shu’(新唐書),Śrīvijaya had fourteen cities and divided them into two administration districts to control the whole empire. (有城十四、以二国分総). The territory of Śrīvijaya was very long from the east to the west 2,000 li (about 800kilometers) and from the south to the north 4,000 li (1,600kilometers). This geographical shape suggests Śrīvijaya was located in the Malay Peninsula. Probably the first capital was Chaiya, and the second was Kedah. Kedah was in charge of the Strait of Malacca. From Kedah Śrīvijaya might have sent its expedition to Jambi and Palembang in early 680s. The result was shown in the inscriptions of Palembang and Jambi.


The basic concept of G. Coedès on Śrīvijaya-1


 G. Coedès says “Owing to an increase in the number of ships plying between China and India, the region of Palembang had acquired a new importance. The coast here is halfway between the Sunda strait and the Strait of Malacca, and was usual point landing point for ships sailing from China with the north-east monsoon. It thus occupied a favorable position for controlling the trade between the China Sea and the Indian Ocean, from which much profit could be derived. Doubtless this explain why the kingdom of Śrīvijaya –the (Shih-li) fo-shih of Chinese documentsprospered so rapidly.

A desire to command the strait must have accounted for its expansion north-westwards to the Malay Peninsula and south-eastwards towards the western part of Java, which enable it to maintain a commercial hegemony over Indonesia for several centuries.” [33]*


The explanation of G. Coedès is very confusing moreover contains several basic mistakes.

     The location of Java was very inconvenient to do business with the southern India because of the long distance from the northern head of Sumatra and unfavorable wind for the southbound ships in the summer time.


     The Indian, Persian and other ships did not use the Sunda Strait before the sixteenth century. Almost all of them used the Strait of Malacca. So the Sunda Strait had little importance at the actual west-east trades in the Tang times.


     Palembang was not so favorable or convenient as the entrepôt or junction-port compared with Jambi, Kedah and Takua Pa. From the mouth of the Musi River to Palembang, the distance is nearly 80 kilometers (in the 7th century, the distance might be shorter) and the location is too far from the Strait of Malacca. Apparently, Jambi is much better for the junction.


The merchant ships from the West crossed the Bay of Bengal to the Malay Peninsula ports such as Kedah and Takua Pa with the south-west monsoon, but from the Malay ports they could not directly proceed to the south end of the Strait of Malacca due to the unfavorable wind of the season (mostly summer). So they had to wait for the north-east monsoon for several months at these harborsBut they had found the solution to save time and cost. They used trans-peninsular route to the east coast such as Chaiya, Nakhon Si Tammarart, Songkhla, Pattani, and Kelantan. The shortest route was from Takua Pa to Chaiya course, which had been used by Funan for several centuries. As above mentioned, I call this route as “A-route”. From Kedah to Songkhla, Pattani and Kelantan course is called “B-route “.


Persian merchants also use this trans-peninsular route without doubt, but the normally shipped to China directly. The trans-peninsular route was dominated mainly by Indian merchants, so Persian traders had to develop their own route. In that case, Persian merchants went up to the Bengal port such as Tamluk from the southern Indian port. In winter time, they came down with the northeast monsoon, from Bengal to the southern ports of the Malacca Strait such as Malayu and Jambi via Takua Pa or Kedah. By using this route Persian could minimize waiting time at Takua Pa and Kedah. At every port they stopped over, Persian merchants did exchange of goods and finally went to China collecting aromatics, cotton and some other precious goods. For Persian merchants, Palembang was not so convenient to anchor, because it located too south and there were not important commodities except pepper. Most of the commodities of this area, such as pepper, spices, aromatic wood, camphor and rice were accumulated at Malayu by local merchants. This was the best way for Persian merchants to save time and to avoid unnecessary idle waiting time. In this case, Persian merchants seldom use Palembang.


The importance of Malayu and Jambi area as the entrepôt increased after the 10th century. At the Sung times, Chinese merchants were allowed to go abroad by the government’s ‘free trade policy’ at the same time the merchandise from China changed drastically. Ceramics increased so much as the main cargo from China, which were very heavy and bulky compared with traditional goods such as silk and copper coins. Because large ceramic ware was unsuitable for land-transportation, so the sea-route was used more frequently and the southeastern part of Sumatra became more developed. Even in this case, Malayu or Jambi was used more than Palembang, because Jambi was nearer to the Strait of Malacca. These ceramics were destined for the west world, not for Java. In case of Java, Chinese merchants went directly to Java not through Palembang.


The basic concept of G. Coedès on Śrīvijaya-2


G. Coedès writes the importance of the land routes as follows, but does not recognize real meaning of it;

“It was the growth of piracy in the straits, and later the tyrannical commercial policy of the kingdom of Palembang that made the land routes so very important, as is demonstrated by archaeological finds.

Those seamen who, proceeding from southern India to the countries of gold, did not coast along the shores of Bengal but risked crossing the high seas were able to make use of either the 10-degree channel between Andaman and Nicobar or, farther south, the channel between and the headland of Achin.

In the first case they would land on the peninsula near Takua Pa; in the second, near Kedah. Archaeological research has uncovered ancient objects in these two sites.

One passes without difficulty from Kedah to Singora (Songkhla); from Trang to Phatthalung, to the ancient Ligor, or to Bandon; from Kra to Chumpong; and especially from Takua Pa to Chaiya.

The importance and antiquity of these routes have been revealed by archeological research.”[34]*


G. Coedès noticed the importance of the trans-peninsula commercial routes, but he failed to connect them with the formation of Śrīvijaya. Śrīvijaya used the land-route from Takua Pa to Chaiya, as Dr. Quaritch Wales pointed out. The route between Takua Pa and Chaiya was the most important route for Funan. However G. Coedès adhered to the importance of the Strait of Malacca and could not embrace the significance of land-routes. 


The questions for the Palembang theory


     Did I-Ching go to Palembang within twenty days, from Canton?


Palembang is an inland city nearly 80 kilometers from the mouth of the Musi River. For a sailing ship in the seventh century, 80 kilometers’ trip took several days. In the seventh century, the length of the river from sea to Palembang might be shorter than 80kilometers; still it took a few days to arrive at Palembang.

It is generally said a journey from Jambi to Canton it took one month[35]*, it might be impossible to go to Palembang from Canton within 20 days. I-Ching also wrote, “For Wu-Hsing(無行), it took 15 days from Śrīvijaya to Malayu”. Malayu was supposed as Jambi area. Between Jambi area and Palembang is very near, it might take only a few days for voyage even in the seventh century.


    Were there more than 1,000 Buddhist monks in Palembang in 671? 


I-Ching wrote that in Śrīvijaya, there was a center for Buddhism in Southeast Asia, and more than 1,000 Buddhist monks were studying and practicing Buddhism teachings.


The size of Śrīvijaya as the Buddhist training center was similar to that of Nālandā University in India. At the same time, there must have been number of Buddhism temples. According to the Tong-Dian(通典), compiled by Du-You(杜祐) in 801, at Pan-pan (Chaiya) there were eleven temples and they were supported by the king and citizens. In Palembang, there are not so much Buddhism remains. On the contrary, Chaiya had such facilities and many remains of old temples. Chaiya also had a big port for the international trade and vast hinterland for food supply. When I-Ching arrived at Kedah, he mentioned nothing about the Buddhist temples even though there are considerable remains of temples. Judging from I-Ching attitude towards Kedah, Śrīvijaya might have been much bigger city than Kedah.

In the seventh century, there were two large cities in the east coast of the Malay Peninsula, Chaiya and Nakhon Si Tammarat

Dr. Quaritch Wales compared both cities and his conclusion was that Chaiya must be Śrīvijaya. Because remains are much richer in Chaiya than in Nakhon Si Tammarat, and latter was comparatively newer than Chaiya as an international port and from many other respects. ‘Chaiya’ means ‘Vijaya’ or victory, success or glory.

Furthermore, I-Ching recommends Chinese monks to stay Śrīvijaya for one or two years to study the basic knowledge of Buddhism before go to India at that time, the infrastructure to learn Buddhism was well maintained in Śrīvijaya.


The Location of Shih-li-fo-shi (Śrīvijaya)


 As above mentioned, in the Tang times, there were no other states which had more Buddhist facilities in Southeast Asia, comparable to Pan-pan (Chaiya).

The Xin Tang-Shu provides some more evidences that Shih-li-fo-shi (Śrīvijaya) was located in the Malay Peninsula.


1.  The Xin Tang-Shu says in the article of Shih-li-fo-shi (Śrīvijaya):


The location of Shih-li-fo-shi (Śrīvijaya) is 2,000 li (about 800 kilometers) from the Con Son Island, south of Hō Chī Minh city. The width from east to west is 1,000 li (about 400 kilometers) and the length from north to south is 4,000 li (about 1,600 kilometers). Shih-li-fo-shi has fourteen subordinate city-states and the administration is separated by two portions. The west neighbor is Lo-Po-Lou-Si (郎婆露斯). The production of gold, mercury and borneol (a kind of camphor) are plenty. At the summer solstice, the length of shadow from the 8 chi straight erected bar is 2 and half chi to the southwards. The number of men exceeds that of women…….

Here I must discuss three points.

     The first is the distance from the Con Son Island, which is 2000li, approximately 800   kilometers. The distance between the island and Chaiya is just 800 kilometers. The distance from the island to the estuary of Palembang is about 1,200 kilometers.

     The second point is the shape of the country, which is apparently long-shape suggesting the Malay Peninsula and not Sumatra. The width from east to west is 1,000 li (about 400 kilometers) and the length from north to south is 4,000 li (about 1,600 kilometers).

      The third point is the latitude. The length of the shadow of strait standing eight chi bar at the summer solstice at noon, is two and half chi, which means approximately the north latitude 6 degrees and 7 minutes. This is the latitude of Kelantan at the east coast and Alor Setar of Kedah at the west coast of the Peninsula. In this case, the port of B-route might be used as a shipping port of Shih-li-fo-shi, which had wide territory in the Tang times.[36]* As the conclusion, Shih-li-fo-shi was located without doubt at the north hemisphere, at the middle of the Malay Peninsula. It means that the location of Shih-li-fo-shi (Śrīvijaya) was at Chaiya as late as 742. However the shipping port where a Chinese sailor or navigator measured the shadow of eight chi ()bar might be Kelantan or Pattani.

2. The Xin Tang-Shu says in the article of Kha-ling (Ho-ling)


The Xin Tang-Shu says that Kha-ling is called as She-Po (社婆) or Du-Po (闍婆) and is located in the South Sea (南海). The east of Shih-li-fo-shi (Śrīvijaya) is Po-Li (婆利), the west is Duo-Po-To(堕婆登), the south is facing ocean and the north is Chen-la………. The length of the shadow at the summer solstice is two chi and four chun (1 chi=10 chuns), which means approximately the north latitude 6 degrees and 45 minutes. According to the description of the Xin Tang-Shu, the location of Kha-ling should be a little northward for instance, Songkhla or Sathing Phra. Basically, the location of Kha-ling (Ho-ling) was considered in the central Java. Many historians think that the reliability of the Xin Tang-Shu is dubious, due to these descriptions. In the Jiu Tang-Shu(旧唐書), there is no description of the shadows. However the writers of the Xin Tang-Shu might be serious, after they found the new evidence or record, they wrote the shadow issue. At first, Kha-ling was a country based in the central Java, however at the latter half of the eighth century the Śailendra dynasty held the helm of the central Java. Later Śailendra represented the whole Śrīvijaya group countries, and it sent the first envoy to the Tang court in 768.  Śailendra might have sent its ship to China from the east coast of the Malay Peninsula, where was the territory of Śrīvijaya group.

I suppose that occasionally a Chinese navigator measured the length of the shadow on the summer solstice day at the port of the east coast of the Peninsula. It is almost sure that the Tang court thought Shih-li-fo-shi (Śrīvijaya) survived after 742, at the same time the Tang never noticed that Kha-ling had been taken over by Śailendra (also Śrīvijaya). To the eyes of Chinese officials, there might be some geographical confusion about the ports of the east coast of the Malay Peninsula, who owned which between Shih-li-fo-shi and Kha-ling. But when Shih-li-fo-shi existed, Kha-ling was in Java, and when new Kha-ling (Śailendra) came over to the Malay Peninsula, Shih-li-fo-shi had disappeared nearly twenty years earlier. The Tang and the Sung officials probably did not acknowledge such historical change. Moreover when new Kha-ling appeared in China after 768, it (Śailendra) was representing whole Śrīvijaya group. So it was highly probable, new Kha-ling (Śailendra) could use the port of the east coast of Malay Peninsula.  

3I-Ching’s “Sundial”

I-Ching wrote in his Nan-Hai Chi-Kuei Nei Fa Chuan(南海寄帰内法伝), how to know ‘noon’ to take lunch: ”For instance in Shih-li-fo-shi (Śrīvijaya), we see the shadow of a sundial neither becomes long nor short in the eighth lunar month (generally September). At midday no shadow falls from a standing person. The case is the same in the middle of spring. The sun passes above the head two times in a year”.





The quoted sentence is an explanation how to use a sundial to know noon (midday), but I-Ching says it is difficult in Shih-li-fo-shi (Śrīvijaya) to know the time in the eighth lunar month (almost September), because the sun is just above the head. And I-Ching suggests the location of Shih-li-fo-shi is south of the ‘Tropic of Cancer’ and north of the Equator.


As the conclusion, Shih-li-fo-shi (Śrīvijaya) is located in the Northern Hemisphere or the Malay Peninsula. In the Malay Peninsula, the possible candidates of Shih-li-fo-shi (Śrīvijaya) were Chaiya, Nakhon Si Tammarat and Kedah. Kedah is out of question. When I-Ching visited Kedah in 672, he told nothing about Kedah, because at that time Hinduism was prosperous there. Nakhon Si Tammarat was neither center of Buddhism nor major entrepôt in the Tang times. So, only Chaiya remains. In the Tang times, Chaiya (Pan-pan) was only one state with more than ten Buddhist temples in Southeast Asia in the Tang times. At the same time, Chaiya was the important entrepôt connecting with Takua Pa and China.


Jia-Dan’s(賈耽) sea route and the location of Luo-Yue(羅越)


The Xin Tang-Shu has the geographical articles in which Jia-Dan’s ‘sea route map’ is quoted.

After five days journey from ‘the Con Dao Island’, one reaches a strait which the barbarians call ‘Zhi()’, and which is 100 li from south to north. On its northern shore is the kingdom of Luo-Yue, on its southern shore the kingdom of Fo-shi (Śrīvijaya). Some four or five days’ journey over the water to the eastward of Fo-shi is the kingdom of Kha-ling, the largest islands in the south.



In this case, Chi() is interpreted ‘selat’( strait in Malay language), and generally supposed to be the Singapore Strait. However the Singapore Strait is narrow, less than 10 kilometers width. 100li means about 40 kilometers. Furthermore ‘selat’ has three meanings, ‘strait’ ‘narrow’ and ‘sound (bay)’. In this case, ‘selat’ might be the Bay of Bandon, of which mouth is about 40 kilometers from north to south.

If Chi is identified as the Singapore Strait, the location of Luo-Yue (羅越) must be Johore, at the southern end of the Malay Peninsula. And the location of ‘Shih-li-fo-shi’ may be Sumatra. It is a convenient story for ‘Palembang theory’. However, Luo-Yue cannot be Johore. In the Tang times, Johore was not developed so much as an emporium.


According to the Xin Tang-Shu, “The northward from Luo-Yue is 5,000 li sea water, and the south-west is Ko-ku-lo (哥谷羅). Traders from various directions gather around there. The customs of the resident are the same as those of Dvaravati. Every year, the merchant-ships come to Canton and report to the local officials”. ‘Ko-ku-lo’ is not identified yet, but supposed near Takua Pa or Kedah. Anyway Luo-Yue cannot be Johore. Lou-Yue probably had the territory across the root of the Malay Peninsula facing the Bengal Bay, and the northward was ‘sea water’ to Bengal.「羅越者北距海5,000里西南哥谷羅商賈往来所湊集俗與堕和羅底同歳乗舶至広州、州必以聞。」


P. Wheatley comments:

Jia-Dan’s itinerary, with its uncertainties and ambiguities, is not susceptible of plotting but the general impression is that the sea-route to the West followed substantially the direction taken by the Buddhist pilgrims of the seventh century.’ [37]*






San-fo-chi 三仏斉


At the end of the Tang Dynasty, the writers of the Chinese annals did not notice that shih-li-fo-shi(室利仏逝)and San-fo-chi (三仏斉) were different. Originally, both Shih-li-fo-shi and San-fo-chi were Śrīvijaya, but in the Tang times before 904, it was called as Shih-li-fo-shi and in the Sung times as San-fo-chi (三仏斉).


However, some historians discuss that Arabian merchants used to call the big trading country in the Malay Peninsula as Sribuza, Saboza or Zabag, so the name of San-fo-chi (三仏斉) was recorded in the Chinese annals. But the name of Sribuza likely represented Shih-li-fo-shi.

A famous Japanese Historian, Dr. Toyohachi Fujita believed simply that Shih-li-fo-shi (室利仏逝) and San-fo-chi (三仏斉) were the same Śrīvijaya. I agree with Dr. Fujita, but I suppose that the name of San-fo-chi came from ‘three Śrīvijaya’ states, namely Kedah, Jambi and perhaps Palembang.  After Śailendras was kicked out from Java, three major Śrīvijaya city-states formed a new allied state, called San-fo-chi, which was easily approved by two Chinese Dynasties, Tang and Sung. Because San-fo-chi was identified as formal successor of Shih-li-fo-shi (室利仏逝). 


Formation of San-fo-chi

San-fo-chi was the successor of Shih-li-fo-shi and Śailendra, which emerged following disappearance of Śailendra from Java. While Śailendra was strong in Java, other Śrīvijaya countries admitted the authority of Śailendra and kept quiet.

All of a sudden, Jambi (占卑) sent embassies to China in 852 and 871. Before that time, from Java She-po (闍婆=Java) started to send envoys to the Tang dynasty in 820, 831 and 839. At the same time, ‘new Kha-ling (Śailendra) continued sending embassies to China in 768, 769, 813, 815, 818, 827~35 and 860~73. Considering that She-po started in 820, at that time, Śailendra might have lost the helm in Java or been expelled from Java but under the name of ‘Kha-ling’, Śailendra possibly sent its embassies from other Śrīvijaya’s territory, for instance Songkhla and Sathing Phra in the Malay Peninsula.

When Bālaputra, assumed crown prince of Samaratuńga, the Mahārāja of Śailendra, was expelled from Java is unknown. But his rival and a brother-in-law Rakai Pikatan became the king of the Sanjaya Dynasty (old Mataram) around 840. At the same time, Bālaputra might have left Java. Perhaps Bālaputra became the Mahārāja of Śrīvijaya, covering Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula.


Suvernadvipa- Nālandā inscription

In the Nālandā copper-plate inscription of Devapāla, Bālaputradeva is described as the king of Suvarnadvipa. Suvarnadvipa means ‘golden-island’ and/or ‘golden peninsula’. On the other hand ‘Suvarnabhumi’ means ‘golden-land’.

R.C. Majumdar says;

“The Nālandā copper-plate Inscription dated in the 39th of king Devapāla (A.D.848?). This inscription records the grant of five villages by Devapāla at the request of illustrious Bālaputradeva, king of Suvarņadvīpa.“There was a king of Yavabūmi whose name signified ‘tormentor of brave foes’ and who was an ornament of the Śailendra Śailendra dynasty. He had a valiant son Samarāgravīra. His wife Tārā, daughter of king Śrī-Varmasetu of the lunar rac, resembled the goddess Tārā. By his wife he had a son Śrī- Bālaputradeva, who built a monastery at Nālandā.”[38]*

Bālaputradeva donated a monastery at Nālandā, while he was in power. That was around in 850.


  The definition of ‘Dvipa’ means ‘land having water on both sides’, so Suvarnadvipa means ‘golden Island or golden peninsula’. Many historians understand that Suvarnadvipa means only the Sumatra Island, but Suvarnadvipa means also the Malay Peninsula.[39]*

So, Bālaputra was the king of both Sumatra Island and Malay Peninsula, which means the king of Śrīvijaya. From the beginning, San-fo-chi tried to fortify its relation with India and China.


Some of the navy of Śailendra probably followed Bālaputra, because She-po suddenly stopped sending missions to China after 839. She-po (Sanjaya) could not continue tribute to the Tang court, because Śrīvijaya group might have controlled the sea area.

After collapse of the authority of Śailendra, Jambi kingdom, a prominent member of Śrīvijaya, got freehand, because the controlling power of Śailendra waned and sent its own tributary mission to the Tang court in 852. However Jambi (占卑) stopped sending the envoy to China after 871.

Presumably, Śrīvijaya countries might have discussed the demerit of division of power, after Śailendra’s defeat in Java, After all, the new regime of Śrīvijaya countries might have started as San-fo-chi, which literally means ‘Three Vijayas’. The main purpose to form San-fo-chi was to monopolize the tributary trade with China, from Southeast Asia. The supremacy of navy made it possible.

At the last stage of the Tang Dynasty in 904, San-fo-chi sent an embassy to China. San-fo-chi was apparently recognized by the Tang court as the successor of Shih-li-fo-shi (Śrīvijaya).


The last envoy of Shih-li-fo-shi was in 741 and the first envoy of San-fo-chi was in 904. There was a long interval of 163 years which had been covered by Śailendra as ‘new Kha-ling’. As above mentioned nominally Śailendra never sent an embassy to China, but it used the name of Kha-ling. As an alternative country of Kha-ling, She-po was the Sanjaya kingdom, which regained the hegemony in central Java. However, after the establishment of San-fo-chi, Sanjaya was blocked by San-fo-chi, the trade route of the Strait of Malacca. This implication is clear that Sanjaya could not import western goods, which were favored by the Tang court. Moreover the sea route to China from Java was blocked by Śrīvijaya group. So, She-po could not send its embassies to China during 839 and 992.



R.C. Majumdar says;

 In any case the Śailendras must have lost their authority in Java by 879 A.D, as we find that central Java was then ruled by a king of Java belonging to a different dynasty. The middle of the ninth century A.D. may thus be regarded as approximate limit of the Śailendra supremacy in Java. [40]*


However for the newly born San-fo-chi, the hegemony of She-po in Java had nothing to do with their business. She-po could not control the Strait of Malacca and its navy was weak to dominate the South China Sea.


The center of San-fo-chi


After the defeat by Sanjaya, Śailendra seemed to retreat to their old sanctuary of Śrīvijaya. They formed new ‘federation of states’ called ‘San-fo-chi’ which included Palembang, Jambi and Kedah. But when Śailendra was exiled from Java was unclear. After Rakai Pikatan became the king of Mataram around 840, Bālaputra (deva), the prince of Śailendra might leave Java to Sumatra or the Malay Peninsula where he assumed as the Mahārāja of Śrīvijaya.

But many scholars believe that ‘San-fo-chi’ came from ‘Zabag’ as Arabic merchants called them.

At first, Bālaputra might have fled to Palembang temporarily, but apparently Jambi became the leading country soon. Later, Kedah became the most powerful county. Because, Kedah was located to control the northern entrance of the Strait of Malacca where almost all of the western ships had to stop over and stay for several months. So, the Cola Dynasty intended to occupy Kedah in the early eleventh century.

According to Indian record at the beginning of the eleventh century the Mahārāja was the ruler of Kedah.


R.C. Majumdar says;

The Larger Leiden Grant is written partly in Sanskrit, and partly in Tamil. The Tamil portion tells us that the Cola King Rājarāja, the Great, granted, in the twenty-first year of his reign, the revenues of a village for upkeep of the shrine of Buddha in the Cũlāmanivarma-vihra which was constructed by Cũlāmanivarman, king of Kadāram, at Nāgapattana.[41]*


This means, the Mahārāja of San-fo-chi was the king of Kedah, in other word, the capital of San-fo-chi was located at Kedah, instead of Jambi at the tenth century. While the reign of Rājarāja, the Great was 985~1014, so nearly at the end of the tenth century, the ruler of San-fo-chi called himself as ‘King of Kadaram (Kedah).


The position of Palembang might not be so strong as many historians suppose in the San-fo-chi group, because its location was too far from the Strait of Malacca compared to Jambi. On the other hand, Jambi had geographical advantage over Palembang, thence flourished significantly. Today, we can see the big remnants of Mahayana Buddhism at ‘Muaro Jambi’ near Jambi.

In 992, the invasion from Java (the old Mataram) to San-fo-chi was recorded in ‘the History of the Sung.’ At that time, the envoy from of San-fo-chi stayed at Champa on his way back to the home country. He could not go back to San-fo-chi, so he returned to China, and asked for protection.

Probably, at the time, the capital of San-fo-chi might be Jambi, which was vulnerable to attack from Java. Since then, the capital of San-fo-chi might be shifted to Kedah or the king of Jambi lost power.


Anyway, after this event, Java (闍婆=She-po) ceased to send envoy to China after big mission in 992 until 1192. On the other hand San-fo-chi had been sending continually many embassies.

However, ‘happy time’ for San-fo-chi did not last so long.


The San-fo-chi’s relation with the Sung dynasty


As soon as the Sung dynasty started in 960, San-fo-chi frequently sent its embassies to the court. According to the Sung Hui Yao(宋会要), In 960, the first embassy of San-fo-chi was sent to the Sung under the name of king Sri Hu-da-xia-li-tan(釈利胡大霞里檀=Sri Gupta Haridana?) and in 961 in summer time the same king sent another mission, but in winter time another king named Sri Vijaya (室利烏耶) sent an envoy to the court.

Apparently the second king ‘Sri Vijaya’ is not a personal name, just representing San-fo-chi, at the same time San-fo-chi might consist of plural kingdoms. As the king of San-fo-chi, king Sri Vijaya continued to send embassies to the Sung court, in 962 two times (March and December),970, 971, 972, 974, 975 and in 980 the name of San-fo-chi’s king changed to ‘Xia-chi (夏池)’. R.C. Majumdar says that Xia-chi probably stands for old Malay word ‘Haji’ which means ‘king’.

In this case, San-fo-chi did not use the personal name of the king. This fact suggests San-fo-chi is not a polity governed by a single king.

In this context, I suppose there existed two major streams of kingship in San-fo-chi, one is ‘Jambi line’ and another is ‘Kedah line’. Both lines did not compete against each other but cooperate.

San-fo-chi continued sending its embassies to China, in 983, 985, 988, 989, 990 and in 993, Pu-yi-tuo(蒲抑陀) ,the ambassador of San-fo-chi who visited the Sung in 990, reported to the Sung court that She-po (闍婆or Java ) invaded to San-fo-chi and he could not return to his home-country (in this case probably Jambi) and he came back to China again from Champa where he stayed one year. In August and December of 992, She-po sent its envoy to the Sung with a large vessel to contribute huge amount of ivories, pearls, cotton clothes, sandal wood, turtle shells, white parrot, clove and various kinds of goods. However after 992, She-po was not recorded to have sent its envoy to Sung until 1109. Probably She-po was rejected by the Sung court to send its envoy to China, after invasion to San-fo-chi.

Meanwhile San-fo-chi resumed sending embassies in 1003, 1008, 1017, 1018 and 1019. However from the west, Cola attacked San-fo-chi around in 1025.


 According to the Sung Shih(宋史), in 1003, the king of San-fo-chi, Śrī Cūdāmanivarmadeva思離咮囉無尼佛麻調華=Si-li-zhu-luo-mo-ni-fu-ma-tiao-hua ) sent his envoy to China and asked the emperor for the name and bell for its newly built temple. The emperor willingly gave the name as ‘Cheng Tian Wan Shou=承天萬壽=From Heaven receiving ten thousand years prosperity’ with a large bell. In 1008, the king Śrī Māravijayottungavarman (思離麻囉皮) sent an embassy to the Sung. In 1017, 1018 and1019 king Haji Suvarnabhumi (霞遅蘇勿吨蒲迷) sent missions.

At the same time, Cola sent its ambassadors in 1015, 1016 and 1020. According to the Sung Shih, the first envoy was sent by Rājarāja the Great(985-1014) , in 1015, the ambassador told to the Sung court that Cola is very far from China and it took totally 1,153 days to reach Canton from India.

Moreover Cola might have found two problems, the first was the direct journey to China through the Malacca Straits was very time-consuming and if Cola could use the trans-peninsular trade route it might be very convenient and the second issue was that San-fo-chi was the biggest obstacle to trade with China.

At that time San-fo-chi was controlling the Strait of Malacca, and all the ships passing through the Strait were forced to sell ‘one third of its goods’ to San-fo-chi. If they reject the San-fo-chi’s demand, the navy of San-fo-chi attacked the ship and killed the whole crew and robbed the goods. .

 Chu-fan-chih(諸蕃志) compiled by Chao Ju-kua(趙汝适)in 1225 describes as follows:

 After selling one third of its commodities, every ship can enter San-fo-chi’s harbor, if a merchant ship try to skip to enter the port, the navy comes out immediately and fight until death, so San-fo-chi’s port is always crowded with foreign ships. 「経商三分一始入其国」「若商舶過不入、即出船合戦、期以必死、故国之舟輻湊焉。」


San-fo-chi’s purpose of purchasing western goods is to make profit by re-exporting them especially to the Sung court as the tributes. The court returned much more precious items to the tributary countries. The Sung court favored these western goods such as frankincense(乳香), perfume, pearl, Indian cotton. San-fo-chi’s profit was so big, and Jambi constructed many Mahayanist temples at Muaro Jambi.


Cola invaded San-fo-chi.


Originally Cola was a state of South India. “By a succession of great victories Rājarāja the Great (985-1014 A.D.) made himself the lord paramount of Southern India. His still famous son Rājendra Cola (1014-1044) raised the Cola power to its climax, and his conquests extended as far as Bengal in the north.[42]*


 Then Rājendra Cola decided to invade San-fo-chi and to secure the easy and convenient trade route to China. According to the Tanjore inscription, Cola attacked many of San-fo-chi’s city-states but main target was Kedah. If Kedah was occupied, Jambi was not so important for Cola.

The record of Rājēndra I’s campaign was inscribed on the south wall of the Tanjore temple.

Probably in 1025, Cola caught Sangrāma- Vijayayōţţuńgavarman, the king of Kadaram, together with elephants in his glorious army, took the large heap of treasures.

According to the Tanjore inscription, Cola attacked as follows.

On the west coast of the Malay peninsula, Kadaram (Kataha or Kidaram=Kedah) was heavily attacked and Talaittakkolam (Takua Pa) also attacked. Then Cola also attacked the east coast of the Peninsula. The most important port was Nakhon Si Tammarat which was described as Ma-Damalingam (Tambralinga) and Ilangasogam (Langkasuka). Chaiya (Vijaya) was attacked but it was not so important for Cola because Chaiya was connected with Takua Pa not Kedah. Pahang (Mappappalan) was attacked too, but it might be not so important, because Pahang has no direct link with Kedah.

On the Sumatra Island, Jambi (Malayur) was the most powerful state of San-fo-chi group and Cola attacked there. But from the view point of Cola, Jambi was not obstacle for its trade route, because Cola had no intension to use the Strait of Malacca to trade with China. On the northern part of Sumatra, Pannai (Panei) and Ilamuridesam (Lamuri) were attacked because Cola wanted neutrality from them.

Probably Cola completely occupied Kedah where was fully dominated by Cola. The target of Cola was the territory of San-fo-chi but its main target was without doubt Kedah. In 1079, Jambi sent its own envoy to the Sung under the name of San-fo-chi, but the Sung court rejected to give award to Jambi, on the ground that Sung would give award only to San-fo-chi, not to the individual ‘member state’ of San-fo-chi. In case of ‘San-fo-chi Cola’, it is a subordinate state and not a ‘member state’, so ‘San-fo-chi Cola’ was given the award from the Sung.

 Actually Cola dominated Kedah because Kedah was in the commanding position both for the Strait of Malacca and the entrance of the trans-peninsula route to the east coast. However Cola pretended one of subordinate states of ‘San-fo-chi’.


In 1020, Cola sent an envoy to the Sung and in 1028 San-fo-chi sent its embassy to the Sung under the name of king Śrī Deva(室離畳華) and the ambassador’s name is Pu-ya-tuo-luo-xie(蒲押陀羅歇). In 1033, Cola sent an embassy under the name of king Śrī Rāja Rājendra Coladeva (尸離囉茶印陁注囉) and his ambassador was Pu-ya-tuo-luo(蒲押陀羅)who might be the same person of San-fo-chi’s envoy in 1028. King Śrī Deva probably came from king Śrī Rāja Rājendra Coladeva. In fact in 1028 Cola sent its envoy under the name of San-fo-chi. This means Cola might have completed the occupation of San-fo-chi soon after 1025.

Quaritch Wales say:

 Already in 1028 a new and evidently fully independent Śrīvijayan emperor was sending an embassy to China, which was there received with high honor. About 1068 we have a curious record of the Cola king Vīrarājendra coming at the behest of the Śrīvijayan king to help him in suppressing something in the nature of a revolt that had broken out in Kaţāha. Whatever the cause of this incident, the sequel points to resumed friendly co-operation between the two powers.”[43]*

40* Q.Wales: ‘The Malay Peninsula in Hindu times’, 1976, p132, Bernard Quaritch, Ltd.

However, in 1028 Kedah was not an independent Śrīvijayan state, but perfectly under control of Cola.


In 1077, according to the Sung Shih, San-fo-chi sent ‘the great governor (大首領)’, De-hua-jia-luo (地華伽羅=Deva Kulo) and in the same text, the king of Cola, De-hua-jia-luo (地華伽羅=Deva Kulo) sent an ambassador whose name is Qi-luo-luo(奇囉囉)to the Sung court.

Probably ‘Deva Kulo’ came from the king of Cola, Rājendra-Deva-Kulotuńga (1070-1119).

Furthermore the’ great governor’ and the’ King of Cola’ was the same person, namely ‘Deva-Kulo’. In 1077, the ambassador from San-fo-chi, Deva Kulo, went himself to the Sung court, at the same time, the King of Cola, Rājendra-Deva-Kulotuńga also Deva Kulo, sent his envoy to the Sung.

It looks a little complicated, but after Cola occupied Kedah (the capital of San-fo-chi), Deva Kulo who became the King of Cola in 1070, as Rājendra-Deva-Kulotuńga, was dispatched to Kedah, as the governor from Cola.

The name of Deva Kulo(地華伽羅) was well acknowledged by Sung before 1070, because he contacted the Sung court as the governor of San-fo-chi (Kedah) before he became the King of Cola in 1070. At that time Deva Kulo was a crown prince of Cola. Deva Kulo helped the Sung for the reconstruction of a temple at Canton.

In 1080, the Sung court was informed of the death of Deva Kulo at Kedah and his hair and nail were sent to Canton where his funeral was performed, but actually he ascended the throne of Cola at that time.


Was Cola a subordinate state of San-fo-chi ?


 According to the Sung Shih, in 1106 when the envoy of Pagan (蒲甘) visited to the Sung court, he was given the emperor’s documents, and he thought to make a file of them. Occasionally he found the file of Cola and he wanted to make the same style of file. At that time an high-ranking official of the Sung court suggested that Pagan could not imitate the Cola’s file, because Cola belonged to San-fo-chi (注輦役属三仏斉), and Pagan is a big country, so Pagan should make a gorgeous file like that of Da-shi (大食=Arab) or Jiao-zhi (交趾).

This is very curious because Cola is a well known large country and conquered San-fo-chi, around 1025 with strong navy. However the Sung court acknowledged Cola was a vassal state of San-fo-chi. The reason is clear because Cola reported to the Sung that it became a subordinate of San-fo-chi. Cola concealed the fact it conquered San-fo-chi. If Cola reported honestly that it conquered San-fo-chi, the Sung court would not have allowed Cola to continue sending embassies. In China every tributary country was considered as its subordinate and which was under protection of the Chinese emperor. If a certain vassal country attacked other Chinese subordinate, the emperor could not allow such invasion. Every tributary country had equal status under the Sung emperor. This is the reason why unrealistic state ‘San-fo-chi Cola’ existed.

Probably the Sung court also knew that the mission of Cola came to China, using the port of San-fo-chi.


According to the Sung Shih,’San-fo-chi Cola’ sent envoys in 1077, 1079, 1082, 1088 and 1090. San-fo-chi Jambi also sent its missions in 1079 and 1082. On the other hand, San-fo-chi with its own name sent missions in 1084, 1088, 1094, 1095, 1128, 1156 (3times) and 1178.

The missions after 1090 might be independent, meaning be free from Cola.

However the last envoy of San-fo-chi was in 1178. That because the South Sung’s trade policy was   changed basically. The South Sung spent huge amount of money to provide big army to prepare invasion from its northern rivals. So the Sung government could not afford to accept foreign missions with tributes. The Chinese emperor used to give back larger gifts for the tributes. Such kind of exchange of gifts was substantially a form of foreign trade. The South Sung government abolished such diplomatic exchange of gifts and established more businesslike trade system. Instead the South Sung government expanded the functions and organizations of ‘Maritime Control System (市舶司制度)’. This system started in the Tang times to handle private merchant ships from abroad. For the imports, the government levied ‘import duty’ and sometimes bought 100% special goods from foreign merchants. The government provided big warehouses to stock such precious goods and the government sold them to the local merchants with big margin. That was the easiest way to make profit for the government. The last stage of the Sung, even San-fo-chi had to obey this rule. However, under the sea custom system, the organization of San-fo-chi became useless. Perhaps individual state of San-fo-chi or Śrīvijaya group went to China for trade. Thus the name of San-fo-chi disappeared after 1178 from the Sung chronicles.

 In the Yuan times, as a matter of course, San-fo-chi never appeared, but only the name of Malayu (木剌由) was recorded in the Yuan-Shih. However San-fo-chi suddenly appeared in the Ming times from Palembang. Of course, this San-fo-chi was a ‘faked San-fo-chi’, which should have perished at the Sung times.

At first, the Ming court was cheated and accepted Palembang’s tribute for several times. The Emperor Hongwudi (洪武帝;13281398) gave the king of ‘San-fo-chi’ reward and the official title of the Ming. But actually, at that time, Palembang was a vassal state of Java (Majapahit) and the king of Java got angry when he heard the Ming’s behaviors. When the missions of Ming arrived at Palembang, Java officials prosecuted them. The Ming court could do nothing against Java. Thus the ghost of San-fo-chi in the Ming times disappeared.

Ma-Huan(馬歓)’s description of “Ying-Yai Sheng-Lan(瀛涯勝覧), in 1416, on ‘San-fo-chi’ is basically mistaken. ‘San-fo-chi’ did not exist in the Ming times. However, Ma-Huan’s misunderstanding was the starting point of the ‘Palembang theory’

[1] “A Record of the BUDDHIST RELIGION as practiced in India and the Malay Archipelago” written by Dr. Jyunjiro Takakusu (高楠順次郎), published by Oxford University Press in 1896.


[2]* Q. Wales ‘The Malay Peninsula in Hindu Times’ Bernard Quaritch, LTD, 1976, p123~4.


[3]* In 670, a country named ‘Kha-la (訶羅) sent an envoy to the Tang. Kuwata assumes ‘Kha-la’ as Kha-ling.


[4]* R.C. MajumdarSuvarnadvipa Cosmo 20on 04,p157


[5] * G. Coedès; The Indianized States of Southeast Asia (English Edition), 1963, University of Hawaii Press p97


[6]* G. Coedès; 1963, p96

[7]* Soon after707, Water Chen-la was separated from Chen-la, of which territory was the Mekong Delta, but details are unknown.

[8] * R.C. Majumdar Suvarnadvipa Cosmo 2004,p103~105

[9] * R.C. Majumdar Suvarnadvipa Cosmo 2004,p112~113

[10] * G. CoedèsThe Indianized States of Southeast Asia. English Translation by Sue Brown Cowing, 1963, P50~51


[11]* R.C. Majumdar Suvarnadvipa Cosmo 2004,p79~80

[12]* G. Coedès; 1963, p55

[13]* O.W. Wolters “Early Indonesian Commerce” 1967 p212

[14]* G. Coedès, 1963, p51. G. Coedès says This Red-Earth Land, must have been located on the Gulf of Siam, in the region of Phattalung or Kelantan.But both may be incorrect.

[15]*P. Wheatley, The Golden Khersonese, University of Malaya Press, 1961 p48

[16]* G. Coedès 1963, p57


[17]* G. Coedès, 1963, p68


[18]*  P. Wheatley, The Golden Khersonese, 1961, p289


[19]*  O.W. Wolters :Early Indonesian Commerce, 1967 p234


[20]*  P.Wheatley, The Golden Khersonese, 1961 p49


[21]* G. Coedès: 1963, p82


[22]* G. Coedès 1963, p83

[23]* G. Coedès 1963 p91


[24]* Devapāla was a strong emperor (ruled 810~850) of the Pala Empire of Bengal and a keen Budhist. He was the third king in the line. His father was King Dharamapala(770~810).


[25]* G. Coedès 1963 p92

[26]* G. Coedès 1963 p84

[27]* R.C. Majumdar,’Suvernadvipa’ Cosmo 2004,P149-153

[28]* G. Coedès 1963 p89

[29]* G. Coedès, 1963, p88


[30]* At Oxford University, in early 1880’s under Professor Max Müller a Japanese Buddhist student named Mr. Kenjiu Kasawara tried to translate I-Ching’s text but did not complete.

[31]* Even Dr. Quaritch Wales believed that I-Ching landed Palembang, who strongly opposed the “Palembang theory”. He believed in the Takakusu’s hypothesis on the itinerary of I-Ching


[32]* Q.Wales:Towards Angkor”1937 (p172, foot note)

[33]* G. Coedès, Making of South East Asia Rutledge, 1966, P95

[34]* G. Coedès, The Indianization States of Southeast Asia, Hawaii University Press, 1963, 2728

[35]* I-ching wrote on his return from India to China, “From Malayu, generally it takes one month to go Canton after staying half year here.” A note of his translation of the Buddhism Canon.『根本説一切有部百一羯磨巻五』

34* 1 chi () =22.5 centimetersand 1 chi()=10 chun ()


[37]* P. Wheatley, 1961 p297


[38]* R.C. Majumdar,’Suvernadvipa’ Cosmo 2004,P152~3

[39]* R.C. Majumdar,’Suvernadvipa’ Cosmo 2004,P45

[40]* R.C. Majumdar “Suvarnadvipa”,Cosmo 2004, p160

[41]* R.C. Majumdar “Suvarnadvipa”, Cosmo 2004, p168

[42]* R.C. Majumdar, Suvarnadvipa, Cosmo 2004 p167

[43]* Q.Wales: ‘The Malay Peninsula in Hindu times’, 1976, p132, Bernard Quaritch, Ltd.

The copyright belongs to Takashi Suzuki