South East Asia

South East Asia Photos

malaysiaRice paddy agriculture has existed in Southeast Asia for thousands of years, ranging across the subregion. Some dramatic examples of these rice paddies populate the Banaue Rice Terraces in the mountains of Northern Luzon in the Philippines, and in Indonesia. Maintenance of these paddies is very labor-intensive. The rice paddies are well-suited to the monsoon climate of the region.

Stilt houses can be found all over Southeast Asia, from Thailand and Laos, to Borneo, to Luzon in the Philippines, to Papua New Guinea.

The chief cultural influences over the Southeast Asian peoples in past few millennia have been from India as evidenced by the forms of writing, such as the Balinese writing shown on split palm leaf called lontar, below:

Balinese writing on palm leaf. Artifact can be seen in the Field Museum, Chicago, Illinois

The antiquity of this form of writing extends before the invention of paper 100 CE, in China. Note each palm leaf section was only several lines, written longitudinally across the leaf, and bound by twine to the other sections. The outer portion was decorated. The alphabets of Southeast Asia tended to be abugidas, until the arrival of the Europeans, who used words that also ended in consonants, not just vowels. Other forms of official documents, which did not use paper, included Javanese copperplate scrolls. This would have been more durable in the tropical climate of Southeast Asia.

Besides writing and weaponry, such as the distinctive Kris, other metalworking was used for musical instruments; the gamelan instruments consisted of gongs and other tonal, but percussive music. Most of the traditional musics based on pentatonic_scale as they are influenced by Chinese traditional music.

Dance in Southeast Asia also includes movement of the hands, as well as the feet. Puppetry and shadow plays were also a favored form of entertainment in past centuries. The Arts and Literature in South East Asia is deeply influenced by Hinduism brought to them centuries ago. In Indonesia and Malaysia, though they converted to Islam, they retained many forms of Hindu influenced practices, Cultures, Arts and Literature. An example will be the Wayang Kulit (Shadow Puppet) and literatures like the Ramayana. This is also true for mainland South East Asia(excluding Vietnam). Dance movements, Hindu gods, Arts were also fused into Thai, Khmer, Laotian and Burmese cultures. In Vietnam, the Vietnamese share many cultural similarity with the Chinese. Examples would be the national costume of Vietnam, Cao Dai influenced by the Qi pao (Cheong Sam) of China and the Mahayana form of Buddhism which the Chinese and Vietnamese alike adhere to.

The peoples of Southeast Asia were trained to carry burdens on their heads; it was a common sight to see a child balancing a small object like a bowl on her head, in distinction to her mother or aunt balancing a much larger load.

As a rule, the peoples who ate with their fingers were more likely influenced by the culture of India, for example, than the culture of China, where the peoples first ate with chopsticks; tea, as a beverage, can be found across the region.

The religion of Southeast Asia was originally animist, then Theravada Buddhist (525 CE) and Hindu. Later influences in Indonesia and Malaysia were from Islam (1400s) and Christianity (1500s). The last Hindu court in Indonesia was to retreat to Bali by the later 1400s. In Mainland South East Asia, Myanmar, Cambodia and Thailand retained the Theravada form of Buddhism that was brought to them from Sri Lanka and fused Buddhism with Hindu influenced Khmer culture. Countries in South East Asia, like Thailand, also eschewed from Christianity even though Christian missionaries were widespread. However, the Thais absorbed the science and technology from these Christian missionaries from the west so as to resist colonialism. King Mongkut (Rama IV) once remarked to a Christian missionary friend: “What you teach us to do is admirable, but what you teach us to believe is foolish”.

The peoples of the South East have been seafarers for thousands of years, some reaching the island of Madagascar where their descendants live to this day. Their vessels were ocean-worthy well before the explorers from Europe were to reach them. Magellan’s voyage records how much more maneuverable their vessels were, as compared to the European ships.Bergreen

Chinese merchants have followed the winds and currents of the monsoon season across Southeast Asia for thousands of years. Magellan’s voyage records that Brunei possessed more cannon than the European ships; it was Chinese engineers who fortified Brunei, before 1521.

(by www.world66.com)