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THE ISLAND OF SUMATRA.
By E. H. PARKER.
The first mention in orthodox Chinese history of any place that we are justified in identifying with Sumatra is found in the Records of the Liang dynasty, which cover the period 502-556: the materials for this history were not put together until 629. The northern half of China had been for more than a century in the exclusive hands of Tartar rulers, whilst the purely Chinese dynasties of Sung, Ts'i, and Liang had governed the southern portions, with their capital at the modern Nanking : the founder of the lastnamed was a very ardent Buddhist.
The Liang Records mention that in the first year of this founder's reign there appeared an envoy from an island country in the south seas, by name Kant'oli. This envoy came with a story to the effect that his master Gautama Subhadra, the King of Kant'oli, had been informed by a priest in a vision “that a very sacred monarch was now beginning his reign in China ; that the prospects of Buddhistic propaganda were now fairly roseate ; and that in the interests of trade and prosperity the said King ought to send an envoy with tribute.” The King was á skilful artist, and had sent by his envoy a picture of the Emperor such as he had conceived him to be from what he saw in the vision : this portrait was found by the courtiers to be marvellously correct, but this coincidence did not prevent the Emperor from having a genuine one made for return to Subhadra, who died, and was succeeded by his son Vyâ (or Vijaya) Brahmâ in the year 518. Two years later a second envoy succeeded the one who brought news of Gautama Subhadra's death, and there the matter ends once for all. Kant'oli disappears into space.
. In relating the above facts, the Liang Records incidentally mention that, somewhere between 454 and 464, the King Sri Bala Nalandâ of Kant'oli had sent a present of gold
and silver utensils to the Sung dynasty ; but I do not find this recorded in the Sung Annals. I may possibly discover a stray allusion some other time. In describing the country,
, the Liang Records say absolutely nothing beyond that the manners and customs are somewhat like those of the (then) two leading states of the Indo-Chinese peninsula corresponding with mediæval Cambodia and Ciampa, and that the chief productions are calicoes of check patterns, karpasa (i.e.
, cotton, at that time only known in China by its Sanskrit name), and the very best quality of betel-nuts.
It is evident that Kandâri (for that seems to be the sound intended) was then, as Cambodia and Ciampa are well known to have been, a state ruled by emigrants from India, and the King's fulsome letter, given in full by the Liang Records, reeks of Hindoo Buddhism and hyperbole. But the only ground we have for identifying it with any part of Sumatra is the positive but laconic statement of the Ming History, dealing with Palembang of 1370, then known by its Arab name of Sarbaza. Its ancient name was Kant'oli.” On the other hand, Kollewijn tells us that the Hindoo colonies in Java only extended themselves to Sumatra in the fourteenth century. There seems to be no official mention whatever of Kandâri between the years 520 and 1370, except that a celebrated anti-Buddhist statesman, Han Yü, exiled to serve at the modern Swatow as penance for his iconoclastic zeal, mentions in a private letter, dated about 820, the fact that “ Ciampa, Cambodia, and Kandâri are amongst the countless states beyond the seas." The distinguished Russian botanical authority, Dr. Bretschneider, has also found an allusion during the seventh century to a Chinese medical work treating of certain Kandâri cures or drugs.
Fa Hien, the first Chinese pilgrim who (about A. D. 414) reported first-hand upon India, sailed from Ceylon to Java through the Straits of Sunda without touching in Sumatra ; and although later pilgrims visited on their way home places which the industrious French sinologist, M. Chavannes,
identifies with the modern Singapore and Sarbaza, yet none of these men make the faintest allusion to Kandâri. The Çri-Bhôja and the Bhộja of these priests I take to be (as M. Chavannes suggests) the Arab Zabedj, which, again, I suppose is simply another form of Sarbaza.
The second stage of Sumatra's history may be described as the Arab epoch, when the Hindoo dynasties of the Malay Peninsula gradually fell under Moslem influence. The Records of the second Sung dynasty cover the period 960-1 260, and were put together about 1300. They record that, in the year 904 (when a period of Turkish anarchy, which lasted till 960, ushered out the T'ang dynasty), an envoy from San-foh-ts'i brought tribute, and was rewarded with a Chinese military title : from the context it seems that this man posed as a sort of superintendent of trade for all foreign merchants coming by sea.
As soon as the capable Sung dynasty had firm possession of all China, the King of Sarbaza (which the Dutch sinologist, Mr. Groeneveldt, has clearly shown to be meant by San-foh-tsʻi) hastened to send tribute, and embassies to the Chinese Court followed each other every year or two up to 990, when the envoy's movements were stopped by an aggressive war waged by Java. Between 1003 and 1028 there were four missions. The Arab influence is perceived by the occasional use of such words as Hadji or Mohammed in connection with the names of envoys or even of Kings; but the nominal rulers were evidently still Hindoos or Malays, for almost each one has either the syllable Srî or the word Dêva attached to his appellation ; and it is also mentioned that a Buddhist temple had been obsequiously erected in Sarbaza in order to pray for the Emperor's long life. The King used his finger-ring as a seal—a point of significance by the light of later statements.
There is a gap between 1028 and 1077, after which things go on steadily till 1097, when Sri Mahârâjâ sends presents. After 1178, when the mission was detained a
" Zaitun," and not allowed to visit the capital, nothing more is heard. I may state here with reference to Marco Polo's Zaitun, a place variously identified with Chang-chou Fu and Ts'üan-chou Fu, that in 957 the Sarbaza envoy who visited the Chinese capital in 960 is stated by the annals of Chang-chou, as cited by Mr. George Phillips, to have built a temple there ; on the other hand, in 1178, the Sarbaza envoy was lodged at Ts'üan-chou. The late Mr. Phillips seems to have made it the hobby of his life to prove that Chang-chou alone was Zaitun : I regard the question as still sub judice.
There is no doubt whatever aboạt Sarbaza being Palembang—at least, in so far that the chief mart of Sarbaza was actually or approximately the modern Palembang ; but it is interesting to notice a few statements which tend to confirm the bold and unsupported assertion that Sarbaza was the old Kandâri. We are told that Sarbaza “is a neighbour of Ciampa (i.e., the modern Tourane, Hué, etc.), and is situated between Cambodia and Java: it is twenty days' sail with the monsoon from the Canton coast. Its products are stated to be betel-nuts, cocoa-nuts, rattan and garu woods, red kino, rice and pulse, but no wheat; various intoxicating sherbets, meads, and fruit wines, but none fermented with yeast. Amongst the things taken to China were "fire-oil” (which doubtless means the modern Sumatra kerosene of commerce), ivory, dates, frankincense; glassware and crystal rings; coral-trees, embroidered stuffs, pearls, black slaves, etc. It is plain that most of these things are African or Arabian produce brought by the Arab traders. More especially it is proved that the Arabs of Java and the Indian Ocean generally trafficked largely in African slaves. But it is also certain that the Hindoo element in the population was still strong, for writing is said to have been “in Brahman character," and the people “smear the body with fragrant oils”: moreover, “Brahman sútras” and images of Buddha were brought as presents, whilst “ priests' purple clothes ” were given in return.
The Chinese have always jumbled up Brahmanism and Buddhism—as, indeed, to a great extent they later confused Buddhism with Nestorianism and Manicheism, and even at times with Mohammedanism. It is probable that the Arab settlement was a mere colony outside the Hindoo capital, exercising political pressure, in the interests of trade, upon the Hindoo administration, much as the Frank powers now do at such places as Tangier. There was an extensive city wall, built of tiles or brick, and the common people dwelt outside it, in huts or houses thatched with cocoa-nut leaves. The Chinese remark that nearly everyone's name seems to begin with the syllable P‘u or Bu. As this syllable does not appear once in Sanskrit connections, and on the other hand does invariably appear in connection with traders from Ciampa or other Indo-Chinese states, it seems likely to be some Arab word, and that foreign relations and sea-trade were entirely in Arab hands. I shall recur to this point when I come to deal with Ciampa. Gold and silver coins, without holes in them, were used in trade, which is another Arab sign. Amongst the tribute articles mentioned which are of manifest local origin are camphor, baroos-camphor. and rhinoceros horns.
Mr. Groeneveldt, who is qualified officially and otherwise to be one of the best authorities upon Sumatra, seems to lie under the impression that the Mongol dynasty, which succeeded the second Sung dynasty just mentioned, had little if anything to do with the northern and eastern parts of Sumatra. But in the
But in the very first year of Kublai's uncontested possession of the whole of China (1280) a proposal was made to him by Sotu (the identical “baron ” who, according to Marco Polo, had been sent to subdue Ciampa). that “ Sarbaza and other eight states should be summoned to do homage as well as Ciampa.” Kublai declined, and this appears to be the only mention of Sumatra under that name during Mongol times.
But the Mongol Records of 1282 state that in that year