THE WATER CITIES OF THE ASIATIC ARCHIPELAGO
Main Article Content
Much has been written and researched on the more perrnanent, monumental and land based urban structures that form the ancient cities of Southeast Asia. In broad strokes the monuments of Pagan to Hue and Angkor Wat to Borobodur have been captured on ink and print and stands as testimonies to the grandeur of Southeast Asia. This paper shifts the focus from the more perrnanent land-based monuments and explores the seldom discussed urban complexes of the water world of the vast Asiatic archipelago that forms the straits and island gateways for seaborne traffic between the Indian Ocean and the Eastern Seas. The geographical region that we have come to regard as Southeast Asia is located befween the subcontinent of India on its west and Mainland China on its east. This boundary Of Southeast Asia was drawn on the war desks of General Louis Mountbatten and General MacAr-thur at the end of the Pacific War, and thereby replacing the term Far East which used to denote the region. Southeast Asia is essentially geographical region between the ancient civilisations of Asia - that of West Asia, South Asia and East Asia. It was the region through which the trade routes (land and sea) between ancient Asia passed and which the peoples of the kingdoms in this region engaged. The urban complexes of ancient Southeast Asia functional as the nerve centers of these trade routes. On Mainland Southeast Asia the six relatively large rivers were important overland routes linking the coasts with China and Indian markets. These rivers include the Salween, lrrawady, Sittang, Menam, Mekong and Red rivers. These rivers flowed into the Andaman Sea, the Gulf of Siam and the Eastern Seas. The upper reaches of these rivers were trade centres linking overland routes between South Asia and East Asia. Mainland Southeast Asia is the home of the Shans, Mons, Burmans, Thai, Khmer and Viet peoples and numerous minority communities such as the Karen, Kayin, Chin, Hakka, Meo, Jerai and others. Island Southeast Asia on the other hand refers to the extensive body of waters in which the Asiatic archipelago straddles. These islands are peopled by the Malays of Asia and the more important groups are the Minangkabau of the island of Sumatera, the Malay of the Straits of Malacca, the Javanese of the island of Java,, the Bugis and Makaccarese of the island of Suluwasi, the Tausug of the Sulu Archipelago and the Tagalag of the island of Luzon.
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