Civilizations of Southeast Asia

Pagan Kingdom

Pagan Kingdom (AD 840s)

The Burmas established the kingdom that once was called Pagan. It was located in the fertile Irrawaddy River valley which was ideal for rice farming. Anawrahta (pictured above) ruled from 1044-1077 and was Pagan's first great king. He began to conquer the surrounding areas which gave Pagain access to trading ports and the kingdom prospered. Anawrahta supported Theravada Buddhism and they built thousands of temples. in the late 1200s the Mongols under rule of Kublai Kahn demanded tribute from Pagan. Anawrahta refused and attacked but instead got the Pagan army crushed. Anawrahta was killed by one of his sons and Pagan survived but lost its power.

Khmer Empire

Khmer Empire (Early 800s-1220)

This empire reflected a strong Indian influence. They adopted both Hindu and Buddhist beliefs and ruled as Gods. Their capital had a temple in the center because it represented the Hindu universe. Angkor Wat was the most famous temple. There were graceful carvings of Hindu myths and beliefs that cover many of the walls. They had an irrigation system to help with farming.

Trading kingdoms

Sailendra (750-850)          Srivijaya (600-1200)

The people of Sailendra relied on agriculture and trade. The kingdom adopted Mahayana and Buddhism and is known for its impressive Buddhism art and architecture. One of the most famous Sailendra achievements was Borobudur (picture above), a Buddhist monument. The monument has levels that represent the 9 levels of Buddhist spiritual journey. Srivijaya was another one of the trading kingdoms. It gained its wealth through the Malacca and Sunda straits. The people of Srivijaya adopted Hinduism and Buddhism which the blended with local beliefs. An Indian kingdom attacked in 1025 and Srivijaya survived but was severely weakened. Islam spread throughout the islands and Muslim traders developed a stable trade network that linked to other Muslim parts in Asia and Africa.


Vietnam (111-939)

Vietnam was strongly influenced by China. Vietnamese were forced to adopt Chinese language, clothing and hair styles. Confucianism and Daoism influenced their society. They were a bureaucracy and influenced by Buddhist art and architecture. They worshiped nature spirits. Trung Trac and Trung Nhi,(pictured above) sisters, raised an army and drove the Chinese from Vietnam. Mongols invaded but Vietnam defeated them and remained independent.

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