SEE ALSO Buddhism and Southeast Asian Art


1)    The Art of Southeast Asia, Philip Rawson. World of Art Series, Thames and Hudson, London, 1967.
2)    Dr. Bernier's Lectures, University of Colorado, Fall 2003.
3)    The Temples and Sculpture of Southeast Asia, Louis-Frederic.


Dong-son Culture - 5th Century BCE - 2nd Century CE - Widespread
Chinese Han - 206 BCE - 220 CE
Andra Dynasty - 50 CE - 320 CE - Southern India
Funan Dynasty 3rd - 6th Centuries - Cambodia
Pyus - 3rd - 8th Centuries
Gupta Dynasty - 320 - 650 - India
Pallava Dynasty - 500 - 800 (7th-8th) - South (eastern) India
Chen-La Dynasty - 7th century - 802 - Cambodia
Northern Chams - 7th - 10th centuries - North of Cambodia
Shrivijaya - Maritime, strongest on Sumatra
Shailendra Dynasty - 778 - 864 - centered in the middle of Java (Malay Peninsula?)
Mataram Dynasty - 9th - 10th centuries? - Java?
Pala and Sena Dynasties - 8th - 11th centuries - India?
Khmer Empire - 800-1200 - Cambodia

Dong-son Culture - 5th Century BCE - 2nd Century CE - Widespread

First historical culture in SE Asia. Widespread on the mainland and stretched out to the islands. Communal dwellings. Tattoos. Hunting practices. Animistic. Excel in metalwork. Repousse is the hammering of metal from the backside, possibly pounding into a mold.

Chinese Han - 206 BCE - 220 CE

Conquers Tonkin in 111 BCE. Mahayana Buddhism from China was established in Tonkin in the third and fourth centuries CE. Zen Buddhism in the late sixth century.3

Andra Dynasty - 50 CE - 320 CE - Southern India

City of Amaravati a Buddhist settlement in contact with SE Asia and Sri Lanka (Ceylon). In the southern tip of India. Tall, thin, flowing drapery from shoulder to ankles characteristic of Andra style.

Funan Dynasty 3rd - 6th Centuries - Cambodia

One of the first kingdoms founded in SE Asia by emigrant Hindus in the Mekong Delta (S. Vietnam and Cambodia). The are no name inscriptions but many vestiges. Funan is a phonetic transcription of an old Khmer word meaning "King of the Mountain" who is probably the sovereign of the country. At its zenith the Funan Empire reached to the Menam River in Thailand and onto the Malay Peninsula and into central Vietnam including the entire middle course of the Mekong River. Legendary founder an Indian? named Kaudinya who married Soma, a daughter of the king of Naga in the 1st century.

First historical reference an account written by Chinese embassy in mid-third century CE.1

3rd century:    Had trading relations with Romans.

243:    King Fu Chan sent ambassadors to India and China. Cities surrounded by walls? (6th cent development see below) Vyadhapura (Phnom Da) may have been capital.

5th Century:    Second more complete Hinduization. Temples with sandstone statues to Shiva but also Hinayana Buddhism.

6th Century:    Funan sculpture reaches full development.

Page 20-1 Rawson.

Pyus - 3rd - 8th Centuries

Two Mon Kingdoms then the Thaton Mons and the Dvaravati Empire (1st - 14th centuries)

Gupta Dynasty - 320 - 650 - India


Pallava Dynasty - 500 - 800 (7th-8th) - South (eastern) India

Architectural style:    Repeating the basic structure in a series of tiers.


2nd Century:    The Malay Peninsula was the center of civilization coming from India. First colonists from Amaravati region whom introduce Mahayana Buddhism. This was followed by Pallava Hindus and Brahmans from the Gujarati coasts during Gupta Dynasty. The first statues of Buddha are probably imported. They are the same as those found in North India before 5th century. No great political state, many little kingdoms form. One of the first states: P'an P'an. It's culture was absorbed by the Funan (Rawson calls it Fou Nan).    5-7th Centuries:    Cities were surrounded by brick walls. Hindu kingdoms in  Java. Pallava style sculpture. Inscription of Taruma Kingdom survives. NE India, especially Nalanda, makes a lasting influence. By the 7th century a number of Indianized principalities existed in Java. Assimilation of Indian ideology was a major factor in the success of those dynasties which were responsible for the erection of the great stone monuments of central and eastern Java.1

Chen-La Dynasty - 7th century - 802 - Cambodia

Highlanders whose name was Sanskritized as "Kambuja" after which Cambodia is now named.1

5th - 7th Centuries:     Formed into an kingdom probably in the 6th century. King who united Chen-La was the grandson of the last great king of Funan, Rudravarman who married a princess of Chen-La. Devotees of Shiva. The capital at first was at Sambor and then from Ishanavarman (616-35) at Sambor Prei Kuk. Funan styles continued. The art was essentially religious.1 Sanskrit most common. Chen-La conquers, certain groups leave for Java. The Dieng Plateau and the Chandi Bhima are related to the architectural styles of Funan. Most have disappeared. Architectural style of Chen La and Champa Empires greatly indebted to Funan influence.

Close 6th Century:    A vassal state on middle course of Mekong in Bassac Region - capital at foot at Mount Vat Phu, a venerated spot. Revolting against Funan rulers, conquer lower country. A Bassac princess marries Funan prince.

King Isanauarman (616-635)? completes conquest of Funan capital and moves it to Isanapura (Sambor Prei Kuk) Many brick temples of special style (Fred 249)

Hari-Hara seems to be the supreme divinity.

710-715:    Split - Chen La of the land and Chen La of the Water.

Chen La of the Land:    Lower Laos (Bassac) and Siamese Laos. Isolated, may have influenced late Koh Ker art or continued Funan style in Sri Deb and Vbol     Thai. May have been a territory of Bhavapura.

Chen La of the Water:    More territories then Funan. Internal dissention, several states. Close 8th century Shailendra sovereigns of Java conquer briefly, adds new elements to the Khmer civilization. Create a new style.

When Chen La unifies there is a great increase in the building of monuments.

Late 8th century suffering a administrative breakdown and disintegrated into small, weak states.

Northern Chams - 7th - 10th centuries - North of Cambodia

192:    Union of dissenting tribes in China. Lin-Yi, north of Funan on Annam Coast. Ancient Country name is Champa. Relations with Funan and then Chen La. Attacked by the Chinese and later Javanese. Most ancient style called Mi-Son-Ei. Affinity to the Prei Khmeng style or Chen La. 1st tower built of brick similar to post Gupta Indian models. Hindu and Buddhist art. Monuments follow ancient style. Hoa Lai style. Vegetable cement.

Close of 9th Century:    New dynasty conquers northern part of the country, settles at Indrapura in Quang Nam province. 1st sovereign - Indravarmay II. Founded Mahayana Buddhist monastery at Dong-Duong, SE of Mi-Son. 1st evidence of this sect in Champa. Style Fred p.265-6. Sculpture increases in Cham art.

Early 10th:    Cham art revived by Khmer and Java sources. Mi-Son Al style. Kala-makara motif. Humanized forms. Pedestal of Tr-kieu.

11th:    Weaker, lacks inspiration, fighting Vietnam and Khmers. Retreat capital to the south at Vijaya (Binh Dinh).

Shrivijaya - Maritime, strongest on Sumatra

Close of 7th century:    Shrivijaya Dynasty. King on Sumatra gradually extended to peninsula and to western Java. Maritime dynasty. In Chinese: Chi-Li-Fo-Che (Fo-Che). Capital in present day Palembang. In 670 they sent an ambassador to the court of China. The Funan king was destroyed by Chen-La about this time. Central Java under the control of Shailendra dynasty.

Shailendra Dynasty - 778 - 864 - centered in the middle of Java (Malay Peninsula?)

Close of 8th century    According to Majumdar, Shailendra of Java replace Shrivijaya in Malay from their capital Ligor and establish supremacy over Java. Selon Quaritch Wales says Shrivijaya kingdom in Sumatra replaced by Javaka, headed by Mahayana sovereign of Shailendra Dynasty from India, establishing capital at Perak. (which is where Ligor is) They raided as far afield as Tonkin. Claimed the title "Mountain Kings".

There are more vestiges in Malay than Sumatra as the later is very swampy. In Malay we find the Pala style, which is a name given to the Shrivijaya, thus dating them 8-11th centuries.

There are many Buddhist colonies as well.

800    Brahmanic city on Dieng Plateau. Same time: Under influence of Shailendra Dynasty, Mahayana civil development to the south, wonderful monuments, Buddhism and Brahmanism at the same time, not unusual.

750-850    You have the Shailendra of Shrivijaya ("Kings of the Mountain" - according to Coedes one of them became ruler in 9th century and confirmed Shrivijaya power and kings extended conquests. Shrivijaya taking control of the old small kingdoms) and the Brahamic Sanjaya (or first Mataram Dynasty)

style of art page 154

Mataram Dynasty - 9th & 10th centuries? - Java?

850    Shailendra princess marries Sanjaya prince to begin the Mataram Dynasty? The Shailendra Dynasty moves to Sumatra, reigns over Shrivijaya Empire and the Malay Peninsula.    930    Mataram kings move the capital to Eastern Java.

Pala and Sena Dynasties - 8th - 11th centuries? - India?


Khmer Empire - 800 - 1200 - Cambodia

The Shailendra dynasty claimed to be direct heirs to the power of Funan. However the Chen La Dynasty most likely drove them to Indonesia. (The Malay Peninsula) A peaceful reorganization of the old Funan/Chen-La kingdom managed by Jayavarman II who had lived in Java at the Shailendra court and was connected to the old Cambodian royal family. He returned to Cambodia around 790 CE. He emulated the Shailendra's pattern of magnificent dynastic power, supported by a strong religious cult expressed through the resources of art. He established one of his successive capitals at Mahendraparvata on Phnom Kulen in 802, twenty miles from Angkor. He lived in this mountain city to claim a similar title as the Shailendra "Mountain Kings", and display his intimate communication with the gods, himself one of them. He established the basic royal cult of the Khmers. Severed all ties of dependence with Indonesia. Died 850 at Roluos, his son rises to power.

Javayavarman III (850-877)

Indravarman (877-89) claims to have studied monistic Vedanta philosophy of the Indian Shankaracharya. Laid the foundations of Angkor which did not live off established agricultural prosperity but created it's own with a splendid irrigation project, creating reservoirs called barays supplying huge acreages of rice paddies. This increased a sense of religious reverence to Angkor's divine endowment. Thus the temples are both an expression of that reverence and an essential part of the mechanism - rains ensured by royal intercession. Indravarman resided at Roluos.

Yashovarman (889-900) succeeded his father. His mother a decendent of old royal Funan family. Moved the capital and laid foundations of present complex site of Angkor. Plans may have been  carried out with drastic even tyrannous compulsion, heralded a phase of internal conflict in the kingdom.

His brother Harshavarman I (900-921)

Maternal uncle Jayavarman IV split the kingdom and set up a rival capital forty miles from Angkor in old Chen La country, now called Koh Ker.

Rajendravarman (944-68) Brought the court back to Angkor in 952. Several Mahayana establishments set up at Angkor, namely Bat Chum. Private individuals continue to dedicate temples (begun in the 920's). Probably canonized the king's building of his own temple mountain which should also be used as his funerary shrine where after his death he would be present to receive worship and add virtue to the power watching over the empire.

Established the Phimeanakas as the Imperial Palace where litigation took place for all the later emperors.

Jayavarman V (968-1001) his son

First decade of the 11th Century:    Usurper possibly originating in the Malayan provinces of the name Suryavarman I. Champa subdued and he dominated southern Siam as far north as Lopbuir and most of southern Laos. Adopted the Hindu royal cult, Suryavarman I being a representative of Shiva. Died in 1050. He assisted the growth of Mahayana.

His son Udayadityavarman II reigned until 1066. Expanded and consolidated building a five mile long western baray submerging the ninth-century city and covering the old Ak Yum temple.

His younger brother Harshavarman II ruled until 1080. Gradually lost the empire, the Cham regained their independence, sacked and burned Sambor.

In 1080 another usurper seized the kingdom, Jayavarman VI, had been a northern provincial governor who claimed aristocratic descent. Not the only claiment to the throne, his reign marked by political upheavals, he never established himself at Angkor, but along the northern fringes of Cambodia. Monuments at Preah Vihear, Vat Phu and at Phimai in northern Siam were towers within enclosures. Died 1107. He built no temple mountain.

Succeeded by his brothers until his grand nephew Suryavarman II firmly in power in Angkor in 1113. Extended the limits of Khmer power farther than ever before. Built Angkor Vat. Deposed king of Champa and annexed his kingdom in 1145. Cham regained independence in 1149. Suryavarman died in 1150 after a disasterous attempt to conquer Annam. Kingdom exhausted, the Cham sack Angkor and carried off its wealth and burned the city to the ground. Extinction of the god kings in 1177. Suryavarman II's continual oppression of  the Cham people brought on this final invasion which meant an end to the city of Angkor, the close of the classical epoch, and the ruin of many monuments and the evidence of a great art.

Irrigation canals silt up. The system no longer justified the sacrifices demanded of the subjects. Too much concern with colossal monuments to the king's god/funerary cult.

A distant relation or son? of Suryavarman, Jayavarman VII resurrected Angkor for one final blaze of glory, but on a different metaphysical basis. This happened much after the death of Suryavarman II as J VII held up at Kompong Svay, 45 miles from Angkor during the a brief disasterous reign  of a plebeian usurper. When the Cham seized and sacked Angkor he gathered armies and defeated the invaders and become king of the ruined capital in 1181. He invaded Cham country and seized their capital, Vijaya and made Champa a province of the Khmers and post age 60 extended the empire farther than ever before. He believed himself the greatest ruler ever.

Mahayana gradually gaining ascendancy in all of Indochina. Buddhism had been the religion of the people. Jayavarman adopted a strange form of Buddha as victor over suffering and the Bodhisattva, Lokeshvara, 'Lord of the Worlds.' Both adopted as divine prototypes of the human king. Some cults of this type in India, but still a tendentious interpretation of Buddhism.

Built Angkor Thom. Inscriptions speak of his establishment of hospitals and Buddhist shrines with pilgrim shelters. Built an incredible number of temples of his Buddhist cult in Angkor and the Cambodian country. The general aspect of Angkor today is due to Jayavarman VII.

After Jayavarman VII's death Angkor declined. The Khmer kings retreated to the lower reaches of the Mekong River with invasion of Thai people of Siam. Theravada Buddhism became the people's religion. Sacred kingship disappeared. The cultural unit was the local Buddhist monastery. Art was contemporary Siamese patterns. A king in the 16th century retook Angkor from Thai and refurbished it. Portuguese Franciscans reached his court and wrote the first European accounts of the splendors of Angkor Vat and Thom. A few monasteries still florish around Angkor and the Vat was used as one. At the court of Phnom Penh the Cambodian kings retain vestiges of traditional splendor. Cambodian craftsmen retain capability for extremely fine work in wood. The foundations of Siamese art were Khmer.

Later Developments in Java / The Islands

End of 10th century:    Daughter of a sovereign of E. Java marries king of Bali. Brahmanic doctrine and animism = special Hinduism in Bali. Still today no Islam. Important to note also that when the Muslims moved into Java they refused to destroy old images, architecture and sculpture. From the marriage of the east Javanese daughter to the king of Bali was born a prince who became a hero king, Airlangga whom marries another princess of Eastern Java in 1006. Shrivijaya had destroyed kingdoms of central Java. Airlangga re-conquers in 1037 and rules the island. No lasting monuments from this time. Continued internal disorder.

11th century:    Enter the Cholas of south India who conquered the seas.

Early 13th Century:    New dynasty: Singhasari. Built new monuments. A new wave of Indians from Bengal, from Nalanda inspired Singhasari, into Pala style, new contrasting style develops.

First preachers of Islam from Gujarat on west coast of India come to Java. Traffic increases after Moslem king of Malacca in 1402. Hindu dynasties replaced by Islamic ones. First Wali Dynasty then Mataram. Bali escapes Islamic invasion.

1292:    Tribute had not been paid to China and Kublai Khan's fleet comes to Java. Out of internal dissension a new dynasty forms, Majapahit, which brings peace. Capital Blitar moves to the NE to Madjakerta. Brick is preferred. Panataran Sanctuary (stone) constructed for 125 years, last monument built in 1454. Buddha and Shiva are proclaimed identical.

1350:    King of Malayu - Aditavarman founds independent kingdom of Minangkabau in Sumatra

1600:    Dutch colonize Java, which ends its independence.