Southeast Asia


Myanmar (Burma):
Pagan Kingdom: c. 800s–1287

Around the AD 840s the kingdom of Pagan was established by the Burmas. Anawrahta, who was Pagan's first great king, ruled from 1044 to 1077. Anawrahta and his successors built thousands of magnificent Buddhist temples in support of Theravada Buddhism. Pagan became a center of Buddhist learning.

Borobudur Temple

Khmer Empire (Angkor): height c. 800s–1250

The Khmer had begun to build a great empire though conquering their surrounding kingdoms by the early 800s. Between about 850 and 1220 the empire reached its height, during which it controlled much of the Southeast Asian mainland.
Indian influence:
- empire’s rulers adopted both Hindu and Buddhist beliefs and ruled as gods.
- empire’s capital city, Angkor, symbolized the shape of the Hindu universe, with a temple at its center.

Sailendra Kingdom: c. 750–c. 850

On the island of Java, the kingdom of Sailendra flourished from about 750 to 850. The people of this kingdom relied on agriculture and trade for their livelihood. The kingdom adopted Mahayana Buddhism and is known for its impressive Buddhist art and architecture.


The Buddhist monument at Borobudur is the most famous Sailendra achievement. This monument has nine terraced levels that symbolize the stages of the Buddhist spiritual journey.

Srivijaya Empire: height c. 600s–1200s

Centered on the island of Sumatra, the wealthy Srivijaya (sree-wi-JAW-yuh) Empire, at its height, extended to the Malay Peninsula and Borneo. The Srivijaya Empire gained its wealth from control of overseas traders through the Malacca and Sunda straits. Aware of the importance to trade to their continued prosperity, the rulers of Srivijaya worked to ensure that trade continued to pass through their empire.
Hinduism and Buddhism were adopted by the the people of Srivijaya , which they blended with local beliefs. The Srivijaya capital, located at Palembang on Sumatra, became a center of Buddhist learning.

Chinese rule: 11 BC–939

Chinese rulers forced the Vietnamese to adopt the Chinese language and Chinese clothing and hairstyles. Vietnam absorbed many aspects of Chinese civilization, including:
-Confucianism and Daoism
-Features of Chinese government like a bureaucracy
-Confucian-based civil service system
-Mahayana Buddhism
-Buddhist art and architecture


Dai Viet Kingdom: 939–1407

In 939 the Vietnamese established the independent kingdom of Dai Viet. The Chinese failed in their attempts to reconquer Vietnam. Although the rulers of Dai Viet sent tribute to China, the kingdom remained independent.