Angkor's temples are uniquely Khmer

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The Indianization of Southeast Asia was one of the early theories developed in the last century to explain the pervasive presence of Hindu religious sites, sculptures and languages in this region, but the mechanisms of Indianization have always been subject to debate. In the early years of this theory, it almost seemed as if Southeast Asia was a passive recipient for Indian ideas and religion, but today the general consensus is that local rulers used the religious teachings from India as a way to further validate their royal power, leading to many similarities in the ways rulers exerted control over their subjects here (think the traditional Mandala structures of kingdoms), but also to regional distinctiveness. This article shows how the buildings of Angkor reflect that Indian influence, but are also fundamentally Khmer in construction.

photo credit: jin_soo

Researchers Look Closer at Ancient Angkor
23 June, VOA News
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Categories: Angkor Cambodia


Documentary tracing Indian influences through SEA to get a second series

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Indian Imprints, a documentary series tracing the influence of Indian culture and religion in Southeast Asia is set to receive a second series after the success of its first run. You can read about the filmmakers’ reflection of the Ramayana n Southeast Asia here. The first series looked at Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Indonesia. The proposed second series hopes to extend the focus to more Southeast Asian countries such as Myanmar. Makes me wonder if they’ll touch on Malaysia (and all the baggage that encompasses).

New documentary tracks Indian footprints in southeast Asia
The Hindu, 18 April 2009
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The Indianization of Southeast Asia

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PDQ Submission
If you’re in the area, KaalaChakra: The Wheel of Time is a current exhibition at the National Library of Singapore showcasing the influence of Indian culture into ancient Southeast Asia. With the kind permission of the National Library Board, SEAArch brings you highlights from this fascinating exhibition.

The term ‘Indianization’ was coined in the early 20th century and was seen as a cultural colonization of Southeast Asia – the idea was that Indian princes and merchants would set up colonies and trading posts in Southeast Asia (notably, Suvarnabhumi and Suvarnadvipa) in their desire to build trade with China. In doing so “converted” local populations into their Indian way of life and religion. Yes, the theory sounds awfully colonial in its thinking, and it fed to another underlying assumption that Southeast Asia was an archaeological backwater compared to the great civilisations of India and China.
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Philippines and India: Politics and ancient history


06 October 2007 (The Inquirer) – It’s not so much and archaeological story as it is a political one. The Philippine president attempts to revive ancient “ties” with India by citing Indian cultural influence by way of Srivijaya and Majapahit. I find it quite funny that the basis for reviving ties is not so much because of any historic ties with India per se (whatever “India” was in the past), but by the fact that Indian “culture” was transmitted to the Philippines. Which doesn’t really say anything, does it?

Arroyo cites ancient Philippines-India ties
By Michael Lim Ubac

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Friday sought to revive the Philippines’ ancient ties with India even as she called on the two countries’ leaders to “move the integration of our economies forward.”

The President was accorded full military honors when she arrived here on the second day of a three-day state visit aimed at strengthening bilateral relations.

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