Ancient landfall

A feature story on the archaeology of the Bujang Valley in Malaysia and connections with the South Indian Pallava dynasty.

4 June 2006 (The Hindu) – A feature story on the archaeology of the Bujang Valley in Malaysia and connections with the South Indian Pallava dynasty.

20060604 The Hindu

Ancient landfall

On a trip to Malaysia, we drove into the green Bujang Valley in Kedah, the oldest State in Malaysia. And we learnt that it is recognised as the oldest State because foreign sailors set up an ancient trading settlement there in the Fifth Century A.D. These “foreign sailors” were Tamils, subjects of the Pallavas. But the Bujang Valley had been mentioned in a Tamil poem, “Pattanopolai”, as far back as the Second or Third Century A.D. There, the Bujang Valley is called Kalagan, which philologists claim eventually gave rise to the modern-day Kedah.

All this, and much more, is given in great detail in the well-appointed Lembah Bujang Archaeological Museum at Bukit Batu Pahat. The Museum, in thick rain forests, is backed by the Kedah Peak, now known as Gunung Jerai and towering to a height of 2,100 metres above the flat hinterland plains of the Straits of Malacca. According to historian Dato James F. Augustin: “Pallava traders from India’s Coromandel Coast began to explore the eastern coast of the Bay of Bengal in search of spices, sandalwood, ivory, gold and tin.”


Related Books:
Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, Vol. XXVIII, Pt. 1
Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic society, Vol. XLIII, Part 1
Early History (The Encyclopedia of Malaysia) by Nik Hassan Shuhaimi Nik Abdul Rahman (Ed)

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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