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1350-1400 - Majapahit Empire

After the 10th century, the Javanese kingdoms began to eclipse Srivijaya and Jambi, and by the 14th century, the new kingdom of Majapahit based in eastern Java conquered most of Sumatra.The 14th century Majapahit empire controlled most of Peninsular Malaysia and the Malay Archipelago. Several states in Sumatra, Malay Peninsula, Borneo, Sulawesi, Nusa Tenggara islands, Maluku, New Guinea, and some parts of Philippines islands as under Majapahit realm of power - in essence, all of Malaya belonged to Indonesia.

While Majapahit was not Malay, but Javanese (and Hindu), by then the tradition of seafaring trade developed by the Sumatrans had been well established. So it continued that Malay would be the language of trade and diplomatic contact in the region, even if, outside of southeastern Sumatra and coastal bits of Borneo and Malaya, it wasnt anyones mother tongue. This is akin to the role played by English in Asia today.

A 1361 record shows that a Buddhist monk in the Majapahit palace named Prapanca wrote a poem, Nagarakertagama, which recorded the history ofthe Majapahit empire in the Malay peninsular. The king was Hayam Wuruk and his prime minister was Gajah Mada (1350-1389). As far back as 1361, Johors Muar is mentioned as being part of the Majapahit Empire in the epic Javanese poem called the Nagarakertagama. In Malay historical literature, Temasik, which was then ruled by Sultan Iskandar Syah, was defeated by the Majapahit empire.

After Majapahit had conquered Palembang (the capital of Sriwijaya), the favourite culinary dish then was laksa. It was the dish of choice throughout the empire of Majapahit. Laksa, that originated from India, is a special food whether in Malaysia, Indonesia or Singapore. As for the spice trade, after the fall of Majapahit, it was monopolised by Melaka which drew the attention of merchants from Europe, namely the Portuguese.

No strong material evidence is available for Hindu-Javanese influence upon Kedah except for a bronze Ganesha with Tamil inscriptions. Strong cultural evidence is, however very evident, in particular in the northern region of the Malay Peninsula. The shadow play derives its dramatic repertoire from the Hindu epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata, and at least some of the dance vocabulary can be traced to Bharata Muni's Natyasastra.

Terengganu's location along the main ancient sea routes attracted traders from the four corners of the world. With archipelago of islands as a shelter from vicious monsoon winds, it was little wonder that Terengganu became a trading post. Terengganu?s history predates the establishment of the Melaka Sultanate. Straddling the ancient trade routes, it was, according to records from the Chinese merchants and other seafarers from as early as sixth century, under the influence of Srivijaya and traded extensively with the Majapahit Empire, the Khmer Empire, the Arab, the Indian and of course, the Chinese.

Before the 16 century, the area now known as Sabah, Brunei and Sarawak centerd around the kingdom of Brunei. In this region the kingdom of Brunei was also the center of trade with China. This region was in turn controlled by two great empires of that period; first by the Sri Vijayan of Sumatra and then by the Majapahit of Java. In the 15th century, the Majapahit rule exerted its influence in Borneo. Princess Junjung Buih, the queen of the Hindu kingdom of Negara Dipa (situated in Candi Agung area of Amuntai) married a Javanese prince, Prince Suryanata, and together they ruled the kingdom which was a tributary to the Majapahit Empire (1365).

From the earliest times Labuan has had various cultural and religious influences. Traders and pilgrims from China on their way to India brought Buddhist influences. Islamic influence was brought by Arab merchants while Hindu influence came from the Majapahit Empire. Labuan had a glorious history under the rule of various empires. However, early in the 15 century, the Malacca empire under Parameswara spread its influence and took over the trade of Brunei. After the demise of the Majapahit Empire in the 14th century, Labuan came under the rule of the Brunei Sultanate. The British then officially declared Labuan a colony of the British Empire in 1849 and renamed it Victoria.



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