Introduction to Ancient Roots And Spheres Of Influence

Malaysia is strategically located at the crossroads of the main maritime entreports of China, India and beyond to Africa. By the turn of the 1st millenium, the Greek cartographer Ptolemy had already given the Malayan Peninsula the reference of the “Golden Khersonese” – the Golden Leaf. Fabled for her gold, tin and natural resources from the rain forests and coastal waters, she attracted international maritime barter and commercial trading on her shores, facilitated by the annual monsoon trade winds. Chinese, Indian and Arab traders came as early as the 5th century A.D.

She felt the influence of the Buddhist Srivijaya Empire from the late 7th century A.D. and subsequently the Hindu Majapahit Empire from the 13th century in her court circles as in the Javanese Majapahit claim on Pahang after an attack on the Srivijayan capital in Jambi. The early archaeologist finds from Kedah, Sarawak River Delta and the East Sumatran coasts suggest a homogenous cultural sphere in the realm of the Malay Archipelago.

The northern peninsular states together with southern Isthmus states of Siam were under more than 2 centuries of the Langkasuka Empire with links to old Champa from the 6th century A.D. They later became vessel states of Siam under Sukhotai and Ayudhya in the 13th to 14th century when the Ligor rulers challenged Srivijayan hold on the area. From then, Siamese influence remained strong till the early 20th century when King Rama IV and Rama V struck more reconciliatory notes. By 1909 with the Bangkok treaty, these northern states became British. However, the effect of the Siamese dominion in the Northern Malay Peninsular states remain to this day when the gigi Yu (sharks’teeth) motifs are used around the classic Malay pucuk rebungs, reminiscent of the Siamese flames on this old Malay world icon.