Mon
http://www.britannica.com/ebc/article-9053293

Ref: Concise Encyclopedia Article

people living in the eastern delta region of Myanmar (Burma) and in west-central Thailand, numbering in the late 20th century more than 1.1 million. The Mon have lived in their present area for the last 1,200 years, and it was they who gave Myanmar its writing (Pali) and its religion (Buddhism). The Mon are believed to have spread from western China over the river lowlands from the Irrawaddy River delta south to the Chao Phraya River basin in Thailand. The Mon city of Thaton was conquered by Burmans migrating southward in 1057. The Mon state endured, however, until it was finally subjugated by the Burmans in 1757. Most Mon are bilingual, speaking Burmese as well as their own language, which is of Austroasiatic stock.

The Mon homeland occupies a coastal strip of land bordering the Gulf of Martaban and includes the Bilugyun and Kalegauk islands. The physiography of the area consists of lowlands terminated by the Taungnyo Range in the east. The Sittang River is the region's northwestern boundary, and the rivers Gyaing, Ataran, Salween, and Ye drain the area westward to the Gulf of Martaban. Rice and teak are the most important agricultural products; mangoes and durians are cultivated as well. Tea, sugar, tobacco, rubber, salt, and bamboo products are exported from Moulmein. Other cities and towns in the region include Thaton, Ye, and Martaban. Thaton, the former capital of the Mon kingdom, lost its position as a port because of silting.

A Mon village typically consists of rectangular houses with thatch roofs, granaries, and cattle sheds. Most villages have a monastery that also functions as a school, as well as pagodas, an image house where images of the Buddha are kept, and a rest house or meeting house. The family unit is nuclear rather than extended. The Mon religion of Theravada (Hinayana) Buddhism is combined with belief in various spirits.
 

 

Mon kingdom
http://www.britannica.com/ebc/article-9053297

kingdom of the Mon people, who were powerful in Myanmar (Burma) from the 9th to the 11th and from the 13th to the 16th century and for a brief period in the mid-18th century. The Mon migrated southward from western China and settled in the Chao Phraya River basin (of southern Thailand) about the 6th century AD. Their early kingdoms, Dvaravati and Haripunjaya (qq.v.), had ties with the ancient Cambodian kingdom of Funan and with China and were also strongly influenced by Khmer civilization.

After the Mon moved westward into the Irrawaddy River delta of southern Myanmar in the ensuing centuries, they acquired Theravada Buddhism, their state religion, from Ceylon and South India, and they adopted the Indian Pali script. By 825 they had firmly established themselves in southern and southeastern Myanmar and founded the cities of Pegu and Thaton.

About the same period, southward-migrating Burmans took over lands in central Myanmar and established the kingdom of Pagan. In 1057 Pagan defeated the Mon kingdom, capturing the Mon capital of Thaton and carrying off 30,000 Mon captives to Pagan. This event was to prove culturally decisive for the Burmans because the Mon captives included many Theravada Buddhist monks, who converted the Burmans to Theravada Buddhism; Pali replaced Sanskrit as the language of the sacred literature, and the Burmans adopted the Mon alphabet.

After the fall of Pagan (1287) to the invading Mongols, the Mon, under Wareru, regained their independence and captured Martaban and Pegu, thus virtually controlling their previously held territory. The next 200 years witnessed incessant warfare between the Mon and the Burmans, but the Mon managed to retain their independence until 1539, when they came under the domination of Toungoo Myanmar. In the mid-18th century the Mon rose in rebellion and reestablished their kingdom of Pegu, but it lasted only some 10 years. The Burmans triumphed permanently over the Mon when their leader Alaungpaya razed Pegu in 1757. Many of the Mon were killed, while others fled to Siam (now Thailand). The Mon are still centred in southeastern Myanmar, though their numbers are small compared to those of the ethnic Burmans.
 

Dvaravati
http://www.britannica.com/ebc/article-9031641

the ancient kingdom of Southeast Asia that flourished from the 6th to the 13th century. It was the first Mon kingdom established in what is now Thailand and played an important role as a propagator of Indian culture. Situated in the lower Chao Phraya River valley, Dvaravati extended westward to the Tenasserim Yoma (mountains) and southward to the Isthmus of Kra.

The Mon, who are believed to have originated in western China, entered the area in the 1st millennium BC, penetrating westward from the upper Mekong River. Dvaravati emerged as an independent entity late in the 6th century AD, maintaining its independence until late in the 11th century. Rarely politically dominant and continually under the shadow of stronger neighbours, Dvaravati was prevented by geographic barriers from establishing close political ties with other Mon states to the west in southern Myanmar (Burma) and with the Mon state in northern Thailand. Dvaravati experienced political domination by neighbouring peoples on three separate occasions: in the 10th century, when the Burmese conquered the Mon state of Thaton west of the Tenasserim Yoma; from the 11th to the 13th century, when the Khmer empire (Cambodia) arose in the east; and finally, in the late 13th century, when Dvaravati was absorbed by the Thai empire. Subjugation did not, however, mean extinction. The Dvaravati Mon retained their customs and a relative degree of racial homogeneity under their own rulers.

 

Dvaravati was historically important as a transmitter of Indian culture. Having had early commercial and cultural contact with India, the Mon assumed the role of disseminators of the main features of Indian culture. They were the most receptive of Southeast Asian peoples to Indian art and literature. Indian influence was apparent in matters of sculpture, writing, law, and governmental forms.

Despite political domination, Dvaravati exerted another important force in relation to its conquerors. Whereas contacts with India had contributed to the development and character of Mon civilization, the Dvaravati Mon in their turn became the teachers of their conquerors, the Khmer, the Burmese, and the Thai. All three conquerors were influenced by Dvaravati in writing systems, art forms, government, religious terminology, and scholarship.
 

Haripunjaya
http://www.britannica.com/ebc/article-9039267

an ancient Mon kingdom centred in the Mae Nam (river) Ping Valley in northwestern Thailand. It was founded in the mid-7th century by a queen of Lopburi, the capital of the Mon Dvaravati kingdom to the south. Although originally established as a colony of Dvaravati, Haripunjaya maintained its independence and its own ruling dynasties as a member of a loose confederation including the Mon states of Dvaravati and Thaton.

Haripunjaya flourished and developed an advanced civilization. Espousing the conservative Theravada Buddhism, the kingdom acted as a transmitter of Indian cultural influences. The development of irrigation systems, law, and art forms were among its accomplishments.

Haripunjaya was barely able to maintain its independence against attacks by the Thai in the 9th century and the Khmer (Cambodians) in the 10th century. It also conducted continual warfare against Dvaravati, which was conquered by the Khmer in the early 11th century.

After centuries of independence, the advanced civilization of Haripunjaya was absorbed by the Thai when the Thai ruler Mangrai conquered Haripunjaya in 1292, establishing the city of Chiengmai a few miles from Lamphun, the old capital of Haripunjaya. The Mon became the teachers of the Thai and influenced the development of Thai writing, scholarship, and art forms.
 


 

 

 The following article is of the lost kingdom of Suvannabhumi, written 100 years ago.
The historians could not reach an agreement on the location, time and origin of the ancient 
city
, leaving us the puzzle to be solved like the origin of Atlantis.
 It has been presumed to be in the vicinity of Bilin Township and Kelasa Hill
in the present day Mon State in Myanmar, flourished from 200 BC, established at the time
Asoka (c 299 - BC - 237) was the king of India, according to the legend.
 

 SUVANNABHUMI


     An excerpt from the article by Taw Sein Ko, Superintendent, Archaeological Survey, Burma

       The following extract from The Cave Temples of India by Fergusson and Burgess, page 17, will be of value here, as indicating the identification of the countries named in the above list:

      " After a great Council of the Buddhist Priesthood, held in the 17th year of his (Asoka's) reign, 246 B. C., missionaries were sent out to propagate the religion in the ten following countries, whose position we are able, even now, to ascertain with very tolerable precision from their existing denomination: —

(1) Kasmira

(2) Gandhara (or Kandahar);

(3) Mahisamandala (or Maisur)

(4) Vanavasi (in Kanara)

(5) Aparantaka-'the Western Country,' or the Konkan —the missionary being Yavana-Pharmarakshita; the prefix Yavana apparently indicative of his being a Greek, or foreigner at least;

(6) Maharattha (or the Dakhan)

(7) The Yavana country (perhaps Baktria)

(8) Himavanta (or Nepal);

(9)  Suvannabhumi (or Burma) and

(10) Ceylon.

His own son, Mahendra, and daughter, Sanghamitra were sent with the mission to Ceylon taking with them a graft of the Bodhi tree at Buddha Gaya, under which Buddha was supposed to have attained the supreme knowledge."

       The native writers of Burma, however, both lay and clerical, aver with great seriousness that the Aparantaka referred to is Burma proper, which comprises the upper valley of the Irrawaddy, that Yona is the Shan country about Chiengmai (Zimme), that the scenes of the Milinda Panha were laid in that State, and that, with the exception of Himavanta, which, they say, comprises fivc countries subject to China, of Suvannabhumi and Lankadipa, the remaining countries mentioned are situated in India. Such a flagrantly erroneous identification of classical names has arisen from the national arrogance of the Burmans, who, after their conquest of the Talaing kingdoms on the seaboard, proceeded to invent new stories and new classical names so that they might not be outdone by the Talaings, who, according to their own history and traditions, received the Buddhist religion direct from missionaries from India. The right bank of the Irrawaddy river near Pagan was accordingly re-named Sunaparanta, and was identified with the Aparantaka mentioned in the above list. This is but one of the many instances of the fanciful theories of the native historians, and indicates the extreme care and judicious discrimination that is required in utilizing their writings in the compilation of a history of their country.

       A similar idiosyncracy on the part of Cambodian writers was noticed by Mouhot, who says in his Travels in the Central Parts of Indo-China (Vol. 11, pp. 8 and 9): " All traditions being lost, the natives invent new ones, according to the measure of their capacity."

SUVANNABHUMI:   ITS IDENTIFICATION.

(a)

       "The Golden Khersonese denotes usually the Malay Peninsula but more specially the delta of the Irrawaddi, which forms the province of Pegu, the Suvannabhumi (Pali from Suvannabhumi) of ancient times. The Golden Region, which lies beyond the interior, is Burma, the oldest province of which, above Ava, is still as Yule informs us, formally styled in State documents Sonaparanta, i.e. Golden Frontier."—McCrindle's Ancient India describcd by Ptolemy, p. 198.

(b)

       "Why these lands should have been termed the lands of silver and gold (Argentea Regio, Aurca Regio, Chersonesus Aurea) may appear obscure, as they are not now remarkably productive of those metals. There are, however, gold washings on a small scale in many of the rivulets both of Pegu and of the valley of the Upper Irrawadi and of the Kyendwen (Chindwin), which may have been more productive in ancient times. And the Argentea Regio may probably (as suggested by Colonel Hannay) have been the territory includng the Bou Dwen (Bawdwin, really a part of the Shan States), or great silver mine on the Chinese frontier, which is believed to supply a large part of the currency of Burma. Indeed, Aurea Regio may be only a translation of the name Sonaparanta, which is a classic or sacred appellation of the central region of Burma, near the junction of the Irrawadi and the Kyendwen, always used to this day in the enumeration of the king's titles. These regions, may, moreover, have been the channels by which the precious metals were brought from China and the mountains near the source of the Irrawady, which are said to be very productive of gold and possibly, even at that remote period, the profuse use of gilding in edifices may have characterized the people, as it does now.

       It seems, however, most probable that this practice was introduced with Buddhism. Yet even at the period of the first Buddhistic mission to this region, at the conclusion of the third great Synod, B, C. 241, it was known in India as Suvarnabhumi, the Golden Land.

       According to Mr. Mason, the ancient capital of the Talaings, (according to the tradition of the latter), was Thadaung or Satung, a city whose traces still exist between the mouths of the Salween and the Sittang. " Suvanna-bumme," he adds, but unfortunately stating no authority, is still the classic Pali name of Sataung (meaning thereby? Thaton)" — Yule's Mission to Ava, page 206.

(c)

       "Sono and Uttaro were deputed to  Suvannabhumi, or Golden Land. As this country was on the sea-coast, it may be identified either with Ava, the Aurca Regio, or with Siam, the Aurea Chersonesus. Six millious of people are said to have been converted, of whom twenty-five thousand men became monks, and fifteen hundred women became nuns "-—Cunningham's Bhilsa Topes, page 118.

(d)

       "The identity of the Khryse of Ptolemy, of the  Suvannabhumi of the Buddhist legends and of the city of Thahtun (Thaton) in Pegu, all having the same signification, appears nearly certain "—Phayre's History of Burma, page 26.

(e)

       " Suvannabhumi is the only geographical name, which occurs in the Dipavamsa, the Mahavamsa, and the Samantapasadika in connection with the Buddhist mission to that country. Lassen identifies  Suvannabhumiwith the present Pegu or the delta of the Irrawaddy; Colonel Yule applies the name to a promontory or place on the coast of the Gulf of Martaban and other writers hold that it means Burma in general or the large islands of the Straits (Settlements). In modern Burmese works,  Suvannabhumi is used as the classical designation of British and Upper Burma. Captain Forbes, in his Indo-Chinese Languages, has already forcibly pointed out, and his statement is corroborated by geological evidences and the native records, that the extnsive plains south of the Pegu Yoma and what are now the Irrawaddy and Sittang valleys were covered by the sea till a few centuries after Christ. Even Hiuen Tsiang, who visited India in the 7th century A D., places Prome near a sea harbour. Burmese historians date the retreating of the ocean from Prome from a terrible earth-quake, which took place in the fifth century before Christ. The corrosion of the sea water is still clearly traceable on the numerous boulders which line the base of the hills stretching, now far inland, from Shwegyin to Martaban. Cables and ropes of sea-going vessels have been dug up near Ayetthema, the ancient Takkala, now distant 12 miles from the sea-shore, and but lately remains of foreign ships have been found near Twante buried eight feet beneath the surface of the earth." Forchhammer's Notes on the Early History and Geography of British Burma II. —The First Buddhist Mission to Suvannabhumi, page3.

(f)

       The following extract from the preface to Colquhoun's Across Chryse is from the pen of the late Sir Henry Yule.

       " Chryse is a literal version of the Sanskrit Suvarnabhumi or Golden Land, applied in ancient India to the Indo-Chinese regions. Of course, where there is no accurate knowledge the application of the term must be vague.

       "It would be difficult to define where Ptolemy's Chryse (Chryse Chora aut Chryse Chersonesus) terminated eastward, though he appears to give the names a special application to what we call Burma and Pegu. But Ptolemy, from the nature of his work, which consisted in drawing such maps as he could, and then tabulating the positions from those maps, as if he possessed most accurate data for all, necessarily defined things far beyond what his real materials justified. If we look to the author of the Periplus, who has no call to effect impossible precision, we find that Chryse is the last continental region towards the East. North of it indeed, and farther off, is Thina, i.e., China.

       Chryse then, in the vague apprehension of the ancients —the only appropriate apprehension, where knowledge was so indefinite,—was the region coasted between India and China. It is most correctly rendered by 'Indo-China.' ''

(g)

       The above extracts show that the precise identification of the country known as  Suvannabhumi to the ancients is one of the vexed questions of the early geography of the Far East. All Burmese and Talaing writers, however, agree in applying the designation to Thaton, which was formerly a sea-port town, and they assert that the raison d'etre of the name is that auriferous ore was found in the tract of the country in which Thaton is situated.

       Like the term Ramannadesa, the appellation  Suvannabhumi appears to have been originally applied to the basin of the Sittang and the Salween rivers, which are noted for gold-washing on their upper reaches. " Gold is certainly found in most of the affluents of the Shwegyin (Gold-washing) river, and has been more than once worked, but the quantity obtained is so small as not to repay the labour. This river and the mountains at its source have been examined by Mr. Theobald of the Geological Survey and by a practical miner, and the reports of both point generally to the same conclusions. Mr. Theobald stated"that the section of the auriferous beds corresponds very closely with that given by Sir R. Murchison, in his Siluria of the Russian gold deposits . . . From the occurrence of coarse grains in the Shuayghecn (Shwegyin) gravels, I should infer the occurrence of the metal in situ in some of the rocks towards the sources of the streams falling into the Sittang (Sittaung), especially the Matuma (Muttama).

       From the marked scarcity of quartz pebbles at the gold washings, I am inclined to believe that quartz is not the matrix, or not the sole matrix, certainly of the Shuaygheen gold."*

       Gold-washing in the Sittang valley was a remunerative industry in ancient times but as, in course of time, gold could not be worked in paying quantities, the energies of the people were diverted to other channels, and evidently to commerce. Still the glamour of the name remained, and its currency was maintained by the fact of the Sittang valley containing seaport towns, namely, Golamattika or Takkala, and subsequently Thaton itself, which were great emporia of trade between India and the Far East till the Middle Ages.

       In the Kalyani Inscription,  Suvannabhumi is identified with Ramannadesa. This identification appears to rest on plausible grounds, as gold-washing is still carried on in most of the districts comprising the ancient Talaing Kingdom of Ramannadesa. Gold is still worked at Desampa in the Pegu district, on the banks of most of the streams in the Shwegyin district, at Mewaing in the Bilin township, and at the headwaters of the Tenasserim river. At Thaton, auriferious sands occur in the Shwegyaung San close to the site of the palace of Manuha, the Talaing king, who was conquered and led away captive to Pagan by Anawratazaw in the 11th century.*

       *(British Burma Gazetter, Vol. II, page 649)

Click here for (Other Articles by Taw Sein Ko)


 
Other excerpts


http://workmall.com/wfb2001/thailand/thailand_history_the_mon_and_the_khmer.html

The closely related Mon and Khmer peoples entered Southeast Asia along migration routes from southern China in the ninth century B.C. The Khmer settled in the Mekong River Valley, while the Mon occupied the central plain and northern highlands of modern Thailand and large parts of Burma. Taking advantage of Funan's decline in the sixth century A.D., the Mon began to establish independent kingdoms, among them Dvaravati in the northern part of the area formerly controlled by Funan and farther north at Haripunjaya. Meanwhile the Khmer laid the foundation for their great empire of the ninth to fifteenth centuries A.D. This empire would be centered at Angkor (near modern Siem Reap) in Cambodia.
The Mon were receptive to the art and literature of India, and for centuries they were the agents for diffusing Hindu cultural values in the region. The frequent occurrence of Sanskrit place-names in modern Thailand is one result of the long and pervasive Indian influence.
In the eighth century, missionaries from Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka) introduced the Mon to Theravada Buddhism. The Mon embraced Buddhism enthusiastically and conveyed it to the Khmer and the Malay of Tambralinga (see Religion , ch. 2). The two Indian religious systems--Hindu and Buddhist--existed side by side without conflict. Hinduism continued to provide the cultural setting in which Buddhist religious values and ethical standards were articulated. Although Buddhism was the official religion of the Mon and the Khmer, in popular practice it incorporated many local cults.

In spite of cultural dominance in the region, the Mon were repeatedly subdued by their Burmese and Khmer neighbors. In the tenth century Dvaravati and the whole of the Chao Phraya Valley came under the control of Angkor. The Khmer maintained the HinduBuddhist culture received from the Mon but placed added emphasis on the Hindu concept of sacred kingship. The history of Angkor can be read in the magnificent structures built to glorify its monarchy. Ultimately, however, obsession with palaces and temples led the Khmer rulers to divert too much manpower to their construction and to neglect the elaborate agricultural system-- part of Angkor's heritage from Funan--that was the empire's most important economic asset.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khmer_Empire 

Suryavarman II

The 11th century was a time of conflict and brutal power struggles. Only with Suryavarman II (reigned 1113 - 1150) was the kingdom united internally and extended externally. Under his rule, the largest temple of Angkor was built in a period of 37 years: Angkor Wat, dedicated to the god Vishnu. Suryavarman II conquered the Mon kingdom of Haripunjaya to the west (in today's central Thailand), and the area further west to the border with the kingdom of Pagan (modern Burma), in the south further parts of the Malay peninsula down to the kingdom of Grahi (corresponding roughly to the modern Thai province of Nakhon Si Thammarat, in the east several provinces of Champa and the countries in the north as far as the southern border of modern Laos. Suryavarman II's end is unclear. The last inscription, which mentions his name in connection with a planned invasion of Vietnam, is from the year 1145. He probably died during a military expedition between 1145 and 1150.

There followed another period in which kings reigned briefly and were violently overthrown by their successors. Finally in 1177 Kambuja was defeated in a naval battle on the Tonle Sap lake by the army of the Chams, and was incorporated as a province of Champa.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haripunjaya

Haripunchai

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 

Haripunchai (or Haribhunjaya) was a Mon kingdom in northern Thailand in the centuries before the Thais moved into the area. Its main city was Lamphun, which at that time was also called Haripunchai. In 1292 the city was besieged and captured by the Thai kingdom of Lanna. 

Founding

According to the Chamadevivamsa and Jinakalamali chronicles, the city was founded by a hermit named Suthep in 661 AD, and the Mon ruler of Lopburi sent his daughter Jamadevi to become its first queen. However, this date is now considered as too early, and the actual beginning is placed at around 750 AD. At that time, most of what is now central Thailand was under the rule of various Mon city states, known collectively as the Dvaravati kingdom. Queen Jamadevi gave birth to twins, the older succeeding her as the ruler of Lamphun, the younger becoming ruler of neighboring Lampang. 

Flourishing and Downfall

The chronicles say that the Khmer unsuccessfully besieged Haripunchai several times during the 11th century. It is not clear if the chronicles describe actual or legendary events, but the other Dvaravati Mon kingdoms did in fact fall to the Khmers at this time. The early 13th century was a golden time for Haripunchai, as the chronicles talk only about religious activities or constructing buildings, not about wars. Nevertheless, Haripunchai was besieged in 1292 by the Thai king Mengrai, who incorporated it into his Lannathai kingdom.

List of Rulers
Names of monarchs of the Haripunchai kingdom according to Tamnan Haripunchai (History of Kingdom of Haripunchai) 

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Queen Jamadevi

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Hanayos

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Kumanjaraj

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Rudantra

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Sonamanjusaka

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Samsara

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Padumaraj

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Kusadeva

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Nokaraj

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Dasaraj

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Gutta

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Sera

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Yuvaraj

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Brahmtarayo

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Muksa

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Traphaka

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Uchitajakraphad king of Lavo

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Kampol

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Jakaphadiraj, King of Atikuyaburi

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Vasudev

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Yeyyala

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Maharaj, King of Lampang

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Sela

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Kanjana

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Chilanka

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Phunthula

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Ditta

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Chettharaj

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Jeyakaraj

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Phatijjaraj

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Thamikaraj

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Ratharaj

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Saphasith

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Chettharaj

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Jeyakaraj

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Datvanyaraj

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Ganga

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Siribun

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Uthen

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Phanton

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Atana

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Havam

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Trangal

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Yotta

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Yip

Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haripunchai"

Dvaravati 

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 

The Dvaravati kingdom of the Mon people existed from the 6th to the 11th centuries, when it was conquered by the Khmer Empire. It was centred on the Chao Phraya River valley in modern-day Thailand, with Nakhon Pathom as the capital. 

Mon Wheel of the Law (Dharmachakra), art of Dvaravati period, c.8th century.The term Dvaravati was created by Thai art historians referring to the destinct style of Buddhist art of that time. The name is derived from coins which were inscribed in sanskrit with śrīdvāravaī. The sanskrit word Dvaravati means being a gateway to the port, thus it refers to a coastal city. (The Gulf of Thailand extended much farther north in the past, and legend tells that Nakhon Pathom was once on the seacoast.) 

Little is known about the administration of the kingdom, or even whether it was technically a kingdom at all. It may simply have been a loose gathering of principalities rather than a centralised state. The main settlements appear to have been at Nakhon Pathom, U Thong and Khu Bua west of the Chao Phraya. Other towns like Lavo (modern-day Lopburi) or Si Thep were also clearly influenced by the Dvaravati culture, but probably were not part of the kingdom. 

Dvaravati itself was heavily influenced by Indian culture, and played an important role in introducing Buddhism and particularly Buddhist art to the region.

http://www.thailand.com/travel/arts/art_central_sculpture.htm

 Mon Dvaravati Sculpture

Little is known about the independent state of Dvaravati, which flourished from the 7th to 11th centuries in much of present-day Thailand. The kingdom’s main cities were located in the central region at Nakhon Pathom, Lopburi and U Thong, but Dvaravati influence spreads as far north as Haripunchai (present-day Lamphun) and Songkhla in the south. 

Most of the people of Dvaravati were Mon, highly skilled in stone sculpture, stucco and terra cotta decoration, and bronze work. Their sculpture style was strongly influenced by the Gupta and post-Gupta styles of 4th to 8th century India, but local features are evident. The face is broad with thick lips, a flat nose and protruding partly closed eyes. Large curved eyebrows connect at the bridge of the nose. The hair is in large spiral whorls with a cylindrical lotus-bud ‘ushnisha’. Standing Dvaravati images are symmetrical, with both hands performing the same ‘madra’ and a thin, transparent robe that is identical on both sides. Seated images are usually in the cross-legged style of India or the European style with the legs hanging down. 

Several examples of the ‘Wheel of Law’, often with a reclining deer, have been found in Nakhon Pathom and western Thailand dating from the Dvaravati period. The wheels symbolize the never-ending circle of Buddhist thought, recounted in the Buddha’s first sermon in a deer park in Sarnath, India. In Southeast Asia, the wheels are unique to the Dvaravati period.
 

 

http://www.geocities.com/RainForest/7153/p7153/buddhart_s.htm 

Dvaravati (Land of Buddhism) refers to the kingdom situated in the The Chao Phraya River basin between the 7th and 11th centuries AD. Important archaeological objects of Dvaravati Art comprise Buddhism-related sculptures representing two distrinct sects known as 'Hinayana' and 'Mahayana'. The Dvaravati style derived from Indian archetypes of both 'Amaravati' and 'Gupta' styles, integrated with local art. Dvaravati Art can be sup-categorized into three distinct groups according to the standard of craftsmanship.   

Type 1 : Heavily influenced by Indian art, the images have no aurcode are similar to Indian sculptures. There are positioned either seated with legs loosely folded or standing in the Tribhanga (leaning) pose. Hand gestures were limited to the right hand, while the left hand would be shown holding the end of the robe.
Type 2 : More influenced by local styles, the aurcode appears in a lotus bud shape or an orb over the cranial protuberance with large hair curls. The eyebrows from a continuous 'crows wings' curve, the eues protrude while the nose is flat and the lips thick. The standing Buddha figures of this type are mainly positionaled in a straightstanding pose, performing the Vitarka (Preaching) Posture. The robes hung to mid-shin level with a symmetrical trimming.
Type 3 : During the final period, Khmer influences are markedly visible. The Buddha was carved with a square face and a cleft chin. The straight edged mantle typically extended all the way to the navel. The image would normally be shown seated with legs fully folded, resting on a roughly carved lotus base.

 

http://www.asiafinest.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=21169 

Origin of Môn-Khmer

Since pre-history, several people came to settle in Southeast Asia. Among these people, we distinguish mainly the population Australoïdes, the Austro-Asians, Melanesians and Indonesians. But in fact, the ancient Cambodians owe their origin to a mixture of the races Austro-Asians (Môns), Melanesians, Indonesians, (?) mongoloid and Khâms (Indo-Sythe) come from India or Cashmere. 

Many great specialists of South-east Asia as Bernard Philippe Groslier or Mr. Marcel Talabot, supposes that the populations of group Môn-Khmer are downward of race Melanesians and Indonesians which came to settle throughout the rivers of Tonlé-Sap and Ménam. Another group of historians (researchers) such as Mr. Hendricks Kern, Mr. Adhemard Leclère, Mr. Pierre Gaurou and Mr. Etienne Aymonnier, think that the Môn-Khmers are immigrants come from India, as like the Mundas, who are them even pushed back by Dravidians and Aryans and which beat the indigenous population (Austronesian race). They would have come to settle, in the first time in Tibet, and thereafter, a part is descended to Southeast Asia (Môn-Khmers) and the other part in India (Mundas). 

The opinions are shared besides on the remote origin of the Khmer people, certainly, but all agree for saying that the populations of group Môn-Khmer belong to the indigenous people of the Southeast Asia. Many material proofs make possible to say that the Môn-Khmers had already a quite elaborate civilization, before being indianized. 

We find, notably, the utensils useful at Kbal Romeas (Kampot) and also in Mlou Prei and Samrong Sèn which goes back to 3420 before J.C. (the Neolithic time, the Palaeolithic time did not leave of trace) the men would have lived on pile, at least as of the time of Samrong Sèn (1280 front J.C.) 

Before being indianized or aryanized at the first century of our era, these populations would have many traditions such as: believer of spirit or animism, practice the rites funerary (deaths are buried in the stones or the earthenware jars), live in the matriarchy society, have the large knowledge of the irrigation system, know how to do the culture of rice and domestication of animals, and speak a language infixed etc. 

The indianized or aryanized Khmer kings never tried to remove old habits of these peoples, on the contrary, they improved them and marry them to the new elements Indian to found a powerful civilization, purely Khmer. The temples of the mountains are living testimonies of the old faith of the Khmer people.

For details please visit this link:

http://www.seasite.niu.edu/burmese/Cooler/Chapter_2/Chapter_2.htm 

B. The Mon People of the Coastal Regions 

1. General History and Introduction 

The first Indianized peoples in Burma were the Mons. An honor shared with their northern neighbors, the Pyus.  The Mons, a people of Malayo-Indonesian stock, are related to the early inhabitants of Thailand and Cambodia who also spoke Mon-Khmer languages. The Mons who are considered to be the indigenous inhabitants of lower Burma, established their most significant capital at Thaton, strategically located for trade near the Gulf of Martaban and the Andaman Sea.  

Little is known of the early history of the Mon people including how long their various kingdoms flourished and the extent of their domains. For example, it is not definitely known if it was the Mon or the Pyu who controlled the lower delta region. Descriptions in Chinese and Indian texts specify their settlement area as being around the present day cities of Moulmein and Pegu in the monsoonal plains of Southeast Burma.  This area was first known as Suvannabhumi ("land of gold") and later as Ramannadesa ("Land of Ramanna"); Ramanna being the word for Mon people.  The area known as Suvannanbhumi was often connected with the historical Buddha in the later Mon and Burmese chronicles that credit the Mons with first establishing the Buddhist religion in Burma.   Although little is known about actual religious practice, trade connections through the Mon port city of Thaton can be traced to the Indian kingdom of the Buddhist King Ashoka from as early as the 3rd century BC. Legend maintains that 2,500 years ago the Mon people began the original structure of the Shwedagon Pagoda that today has become the most revered Buddhist stupa in Burma, a true national monument.  This theory, though tenable, lacks objective corroboration because the many changes that have been made to the pagoda over the years have repeatedly encased its original structure and there is no contemporary record of its foundation or a description of its form.

Once a very powerful political and cultural group, today’s Mon population of around 1.3 million has been mostly absorbed into the mainstream of Burmese culture.  These Burmese Mons make up only a small part of the Mon-Khmer speakers of Southeast Asia with many of their relatives living further to the east in Thailand and  Kampuchea. Although their culture has merged with that of the Burmese, the Mons have continued to use their own language and since 1962 have had their own state. As devout Buddhists, they follow their own ceremonial calendar of Theravadin festivals. Their main source of livelihood comes from the cultivation of rice, but they also grow other crops such as yams, sugar cane, and pineapple. 

2. Pre-Pagan Period: Thaton

a. Introduction 

The early Mon kingdoms that were in power during the prehistoric period,  were situated between the Sittang and Salween rivers and were referred to as Ramannadesa. Thaton, the seat of this kingdom, is believed to have been Suvannabhumi (“Golden Land”), a term that was also used to refer to the whole region of continental Southeast Asia bordering the Bay of Bengal. Thaton is thought to have been founded by King Siharaja during the lifetime of the Buddha, which would place it in the fifth century BC.   Thaton was once a flourishing port community that communicated with and transported goods from as far away as Southern India.  Later Burmese chronicles credit the Mon people of Thaton with bringing the Buddhist religion to Burma.  In these chronicles it is also stated that Buddhist manuscripts from Sri Lanka were translated into Mon characters around 400 AD.  Although scholars have questioned this fact, it is known from local inscriptions that Theravada Buddhism definitely existed in Lower Burma by the fifth century AD.  Although the exact founding date of Thaton and the extent of its kingdom has yet to be discovered, it is known that Thaton fell under Burmese control during the 11th century when the first great King of Pagan, Anawrahta, sacked the city and returned to Pagan with Thaton’s King Manuha as his captive. Thaton remained under Burmese domination until the fall of Pagan in 13th century. Thenceforth, the Mons re-established their independence, although the capital was later moved to other locations including Marataban and Pegu.

Thaton’s quadrangular city plan resembles that of the later Burmese cities of Amarapura and Mandalay. Four walls surrounded the old city creating a rectangular shape that enclosed the walled palace compound that was located at its center.  From north to south the palace site measured 1, 080 feet and 1, 150 feet from east to west. Two chief stupas were situated between the palace site and the south wall.  Today, the old city of Thaton is no longer visible as growth of the modern town has obscured the earlier settlement. 

b. Pre-Pagan Period: Thaton - Architecture          

Of the two stupas situated between the palace site and south wall, the Shwezayan is the largest.  Across the road from the Shwezayan stupa is the Kalyani Sima, a hall built especially for the ordination of monks.  On the sandstone boundary pillars that surround the Kalyani Sima, the stories known as the Ten Great Jatakas may be seen. These carvings illustrate the last 10 lives of the Buddha before he was reborn as Gautama, the historical Buddha who gained enlightenment.   An inscription on one of the pillars dates them to the 11th –13th centuries.    

i. Swezayan Stupa 

The original form of the Swezayan, stupa, said to have been built in the 5th century BC, is difficult to ascertain since it has been repeatedly rebuilt and expanded.  As it stands today, the stupa has a circular base and its overall structure resembles that of a bell. Found within the compound of the Swezayan stupa are several inscribed stones, five in the Mon language of the 11th century. These stones are now preserved within the stupa compound.  

Also found within the building are several stone sculptures, loosely dated to the 10th-11th centuries. One of these is a relief carving on sandstone of a standing Buddha. His right hand held at his side points downward with the palm facing outward in the wish-granting gesture known as varada mudra.  His left hand is held upwards against his chest with the thumb and index finger pressed together in the argumentative or teaching attitude known as vitarka mudra.  Above the Buddha’s shoulders are the figures of hamsa birds facing each other.  

c. Sculpture: Thaton   

The relatively few pieces of sculpture that can be dated to this early period vary greatly in style and in subject matter. The subjects portrayed are of Hindu, Buddhist and Animist gods.  Two Hindu sculptures dating to the 9th – 10th centuries are carved from slabs of reddish sandstone and depict in high relief the figure of Vishnu reclining on the serpent Ananta. From his body issues a tripartite lotus stem on which are seated Brahma, Vishnu and Siva. This configuration is peculiar to Pyu art. In India, the usual presentation of this event shows a single god, Brahma, appearing within a lotus flower that grows from Vishnu’s navel. 

Another Hindu sculpture is that of the four-armed Siva seated with his vehicle, Nandi, the bull below his right leg and the buffalo-demon under his left knee. From slightly later are two small images of Ganesa and a small sculpture of a seated Brahma. All of these sculptures were removed to the Phayre Museum at Rangoon and then loaned to the Rangoon University Library where they were located when the Japanese destroyed the building during World War II. Consequently, they are known today only from fragments and photographs.