Sriwijaya (still written Shrivijaya , Srivijaya or Sri Vijaya , to pronounce Srividjaya ), “brilliant victory” or “brilliant success”, is the name of a city-state of South Sumatra in Indonesia , which was on the location of the ‘current Palembang . It is known from three sources: Old Malay inscriptions found in Indonesia in the south of Sumatra Island and the neighboring island of Bangka (in the present province of the Bangka Belitung Islands ), Chinese records and writings. Arab travelers.


Two inscriptions have been found in Palembang , the current capital of the province of South Sumatra . That known Kedukan Bukit , dated 683 , proclaimed the Dapunta Hyang (ruler), at the head of 20 000 soldiers boarded to 1300 vessels Minanga Tamwab ( Minangkabau according to some, most likely Muara Kampar, c ‘ ie the estuary of the Kampar River in the province of Riau ). The one called Talang Tuo, dated 684 , mentions the name of Dapunta Hyang Sri Jayanasa.

The so-called Kota Kapur inscription, dated 686 and found on Bangka Island near Sumatra, is an imprecation in the name of the Sriwijaya kadatuan (“principality”, Malay datu , “chief”) against those who violate his law.

Arab and Chinese texts confirm that Sriwijaya is a powerful state that controls the Straits of Malacca , at that time already an important international sea route.

An inscription found in the town of Chaiya in southern Thailand , dating from 697 Saka ( 775 ), proclaims that a king of Sriwijaya erected a stupa there. The rulers of Sriwijaya made donations to religious communities, including founding monasteries and temples.

Inscriptions in Old Malay were also found in the center of the island of Java , whose dates range from 792 to ix th century , while the Javanese inscriptions from this period are normally written in Old- Javanese . Links existed between Sriwijaya and Java, particularly the Sailendra dynasty that built Borobudur .


The rise of Sriwijaya likely begins in vii th century. It is believed that his power was based on an alliance with people whose current descendants are Orang Laut , that is, “seafarers”. These nomads, who still live on boats, were once pirates .

In 1025 , Sriwijaya was attacked and pillaged by a fleet sent by King Rajendra Choladeva of the Chola de Tanjavûr dynasty in southern India. This attack will weaken Sriwijaya. The center of power then passes to Jambi . It seems that in 1275 King Kertanegara of Singasari in East Java attacks the Hindu kingdom of Malayu, that is to say, Jambi .

In the xiv th century , Sriwijaya came under the influence of the Javanese kingdom of Majapahit , successor Singasari. The nagarakretagama epic poem written in 1365 during the reign of King Hayam Wuruk , mentions in the list of “countries dependent” of the kingdom, the name of Palembang , which suggests that the name of Sriwijaya is no longer used to ‘time. Majapahit sends a punitive expedition against Palembang in 1377 . At the time when Chinese Grand Admiral Zheng He led the first of his expeditions to India, the Middle East and East Africabetween 1405 and 1433 , a Chinese pirate by the name of Chen Zuyi took control of Palembang. Zheng He defeats Chen’s fleet and captures the survivors.

The Strait is once again a safe shipping route. According to tradition, a prince of Sriwijaya, Parameswara, refusing the suzerainty of Majapahit, takes refuge on the island of Temasek (present-day Singapore ), but finally settles on the west coast of the Malay Peninsula around 1400 and founds Malacca , which will become the largest port in Southeast Asia, both a successor to Sriwijaya and a precursor to Singapore.


Archaeological excavations undertaken in the mid -1980s showed that the Sriwijaya site was in Palembang , which at the time was much less distant from the sea. From this strategic position, the Sriwijaya fleets could control the maritime traffic in the Strait. from Malacca .

In Sriwijaya came merchants from southern China , from southern India and perhaps from Arabia . Sriwijaya controlled the maritime trade between India and China. The kingdom took advantage of the influence of the Mongols on the road of the silk land, to which the merchants preferred the maritime route, which passed through the Strait of Malacca. Writing to the Chinese Emperor Song in 1017, the ruler describes himself as “the king of the ocean lands”.

However, Sriwijaya could not have maintained its hold on regional trade for so long if it had not offered anything to the market itself. The city-state had two products to sell, it was collecting from people in the interior who produced them: gold and benzoin 1 .


Unlike Java, there are still no important monuments built by Sriwijaya. It is known, however, that his rulers observed the worship of Buddhism mahayana (Great Vehicle).

Sriwijaya was a big center of Buddhist studies. Stopping at Sriwijaya in 673, while traveling to the Buddhist University of Nalanda in northern India, the Chinese Buddhist traveler and monk Yi Jing noted the presence of thousands of coreligionists who had come to study Sanskritand the texts sacred Buddhism. Buddhist master Atisha ( 982 – 1054 ) comes to Sriwijaya in 1011 , accompanied by more than 100 disciples. He became the disciple of Master Dharmarakshita , also known by his Tibetan name of Serlingpa (Gser-gling-pa), with whom he will remain 12 years.

Notes and references

  1. ↑ Conference Muriel Charras seminar Center for Southeast Asia, Paris, 26 February 2009

See also

Related Articles

  • Singasari
  • Majapahit
  • Malacca
  • Singapore


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