A Thread on "Trade Relations between Tamil Nadu and South East Asia as Gleaned from Inscriptions...!"

The Commercial and Cultural contacts between Tamil Nadu and South East Asian Countries seem to have existed even from the beginning of the Christian era!
#Sangam Literatures say that the import & export of articles between these countries had happened in great vigour through the ports located on the Coromandal coast, viz #Kollam, #Eyilpattinam, #Kaviripumpattinam, #Tondi, #Marungurpattinam (#Alagankulam), #Korkai and #Kanyakumari!
The author of the Periplus of the Erythrean Sea describes the ports of the Coromandal coast as follows. “Among the market-towns of these countries and harbour where the ships put in from Damirica and from the north, the most important are, in order as they lie, first Camara...1/2
...then Poduca, then Sopatma”

It is said in #Pattinappaalai, a Sangam Tamil literature, datable to 2nd Century CE. that the pearls from Eastern sea, spices from #Burma and black pepper from #Java were imported to #TamilNadu! 2/2 #பட்டினப்பாலை
Recent archaeological researches have undoubtedly proved that these ports had played vital role in promoting the trade contacts with Far East countries!
Especially the excavations conducted at #Arikamedu, #Kaviripumpattinam and #Alagankulam had disclosed some interesting authentic evidences to prove that there were foreign settlements at the above three important cities!
Not only the Merchants of Eastern Countries but also from the Western Countries like #Greece and #Rome had settled here and traded with #Tamils.

#Alagankulam is identified with #Marungurppattinam of literary fame!
The visit of Chinese pilgrim Hiuen-Tsang to #Kanchipuram during 7th Century CE, at the time of NarasimhaVarman-I is a clear indication of the cultural contact of TamilNadu with China in those days. During Pallava period the trade relation b/w these countries had grown appreciably
The concluding portion of #Vayalur inscription of Narasimha-ll alias Rajasimha (700-729 CE) states as follows:

"May he exercise the royal prerogative and take up the vow of administering (his) subjects upto the extremities of his kingdom as even to include the Thousand Islands"
Even though it has not been clearly stated what these "Thousand Islands' were, it is believed that they could not be other than the Islands in the #Archipelago!
#Archipelago sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of islands, or sometimes a sea containing a small number of scattered islands!
#Indonesia#Japan, #Philippines, New Zealand, #Maldives, the British Isles, #Bahamas, the Aegean Islands (Greece), the Florida Keys, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Canary Islands, the Madeira and the Azoresare all examples of well-known #Archipelagos!
#Chinese annals state that Narasimhavarman-I (630 - 668 CE) had sent ambassadors to #China and erected a #Buddha Vihara for the use of merchants of #Chinese origin at #Nagappattinam in #TamilNadu.

This #Vihara was frequently visited and worshipped by #Chinese travellers!
It's believed that the collateral branch of Pallava was settled at Kampujadesa & at the request of Ghatikaiyar & Mulaprakritis Hiranyavarman, the descendant of Bimavarman, brother of Simhavishnu had agreed to send Nandivarman his youngest son to TamilNadu to crown as Pallava king
The earlier settlement of Tamils seems to have taken place at #Siam, as the earliest among all the Tamil inscriptions found in South East Asia, comes from #Takuvapa!

On the basis of palaeography this epigraph is ascribed to the period of Nandivarma Pallava-III (846 to 869 CE)
It states that a tank called #Avaninaranam was dug by an individual Mandan of #Nangur, and was left under the protection of #Manikkiramattar and #Senamukattar!

Since #Avaninaranan was the title of Nandivarman-III (846 to 869 CE) it is believed that the tank was named after him!
#Manikkiramattar is identitied with the merchants of #Manikkiramam a village situated near #Kaveripumpattinam!

#Nangur, another village near #Kaveripumpattinam was the village of the donor of this inscription! #மணிக்கிராமம்
The relationship with Far Eastern countries was amazingly strengthened during Imperial Chola period!

The Great #Chola emperor #RajendraChola-I (1014 - 1044 CE) seems to have had amicable relation with the #Sailendra Kingdom of #Sumatra!
During his time he had granted permission to Sailendra king Mara #Vijayotungavarman (1008-1020 CE)
to build a #Buddha Stupa at #Nagappattinam and issued an order to endow the total revenue accrued from the village #Anaimangalam for the upkeep of this Stupa!
This relationship appears to have little strained in the time of his son and successor Rajendra. It is not known under what circumstances he took an expedition over Srivijaya Kingdom!
#RajendraChola (1014 -1044 CE) the illustrious son of #RajaRajaChola (985-1014 CE) the Great, claims to have annexed the following places in Far East countries during his expedition. The relevant portion of his prasasti is as follows:
“Having despatched many ships in the midst of the rolling sea and having caught Sangarama #Vijayotungavarman the king of #Kadaram, together with the elephants in his glorious army (took) the large heap of treasures which (that king) had rightfully accumulated:
captured with noise (arch called) #Vidyadharatorana at the war gate of the extensive Capital (nagar). #Srivijaya with the jewelled wicket gate adorned with the great splendor and the gate of large jewels, Pannai with water in its bathing ghats, the ancient #Malaiyur with...1/2
the strong mountain for its rampart, #Mayirudingam surrounded by the steep sea (as) by a moat; #Ilangasoka undaunted (in) fierce battles; #Mappappalam having abundant (deep) water as defence: #Marrilimbangam guarded by beautiful walls, #Valaippanduru possessed of #Vijaippandiru!
#Talaitakkolam praised by greatmen (versed in) the sciences, the great #Madamalingam (capable of) strong action in dangerous battles:

#llamuridesam whose fierce strength rose in war: the great #Nakkavaram in whose extensive garden!
Honey was collecting and #Kadaram of fierce strength, which was protected by the deep sea! Most of these places have been identified & accepted by scholars. This shows, the magnificent command of the Cholas in sea faring activities and their control over the Kingdom of Far East
This expedition should've paved the way for trade contacts with more parts of South East Asia. The traders from all those places that had been brought under the control of #Cholas seem to have visited TamilNadu & sold their commodities not only on the coastal regions but also 1/2
...in the interior parts of TamilNadu. To prove this fact, number of Celedon Wares of East Asian origin have been collected recently. The wares, unearthed from the excavation of #GangaiKondaCholapuram, the capital of #RajendraChola, are ascribable to 11th - 12th Centuries CE! 2/2
The Epigraphs found on two pillars from #Burma, assignable to 11th Century on #Palaeographical ground are believed to be demonstrating the victorious march of #RajendraChola upto #Burma!
The pillar which bear the inscriptions are considered as the #Jayasthamba erected in memory of Rajendra’s conquest!
The relationship of the Cholas with the Sailendra King was somewhat improved during the period of #KulottungaChola-I as he had renewed the grant of #Anaimangalam village to the stupa of #Nagappattinam!
The #Merchants who settled in South East Asian countries had not only expanded the commercial horizon but also ventured in spreading the Hinduism. In view of this they built Hindu temples, Dug tanks and made Lavish endowments!
Their religious enthusiasm is reflected from a 13th Century inscription found at #Pagan in #Burma. Beginning with a sloka of Mukunta Mala, it states that in the temple of "Nanadesi Vinnagar Alvar" of Pulckan alias Arivarthanapuram a mandapa with door was built & standing lamp 1/2
...for constantly burning was gifted by "lrayiran Siriyan" alias Kulasekara Nambi of Makotaiyar Pattinam of #Malaimandalam!

This Kulasekara Nambi was a #Merchant is clear as he hailed from a #Pattinam known as #Makotai and settled at a town called #Arivarthanapuram! 2/2
Pattinam and Puram are the Tamil words which relate to commercial centres.

China’s commercial contact during Medieval Chola period is also attested with the discovery of Chinese coins on the Coromandal coast. For their overseas voyage the merchants had used ship built of wood!
Due to some natural havoc some ship wrecks had also occurred under sea. Recently a bronze bell was recovered from a wrecked ship by fishermen!

What is more intersting is the Tamil inscription found on it. It has been read as follows:
"Ma-Jaka-pa-ci-te-ca” which is interpreted as #Majapakitesa!

It is understood from this epigraph that the #Majapakita Kingdom (#Majapahit the last Indianized kingdom in #Indonesia existed b/w 13th -16th Centuries) was in powerful position & had good relationship with TamilNadu!
Due to good relations prevailed b/w these two countries during 13th Century CE. It was possible for the Merchants of #Tamil Country to sail to #Java to find market for their commodities!

The commercial contact b/w #TamilNadu & #China seems to have continued in16th Century also!
This has been revealed from the panel of a painting drawn on the wall of a tier in the Gopura of #Narumbunatha temple at #Tirupudaimarudur in #Tirunelveli District!
It is found in the paintings of the second tier, a #Chinese tribune talking to a native!

This shows that the #Chinese had mingled among ordinary citizens of #TamilNadu during #Vijayanagar period!

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