The Golden Khersonese: Studies in the Historical Geography of the Malay Peninsula before A.D. 1500

PAUL WHEATLEY (1921–1999) was Emeritus Professor and a geographer who came to specialize in the historical geography of Southeast Asia and East Asia.

Penerbit UM (Fourth Printing, 2017)
388 pages including Bibliography and Index

RM65.00

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ISBN: 9789831004982 Product ID: 2581 Subjects: , Sub-subjects: , ,

The Golden Khersonese by Paul Wheatley is a thorough and scholarly attempt at reconstructing the historical geography of the Malay Peninsula from the beginning of our era to circa A.D. 1500. The nature of the sources makes it necessary to examine numerous bits of information in different languages and to combine them into a consistent picture. All these different kinds of evidence require their own methods of interpretation. Wheatley has divided his book into two major parts. In the first, comprising about two-thirds of his work, he analyses all the different sources; in the second, he arrives at a synthesis: after collecting all the evidence on Langkasuka, Takola and Kedah he traces the history of the Peninsula culminating in the description of fifteenth-century Malacca.

The title, the “Golden Khersonese”, is derived from Ptolemy’s Geography, and is in fact the name by which he and his contemporaries referred to the Malay peninsula south of the latitude of Cape Tavoy. Even the most superficial student of Asian affairs cannot fail to appreciate that a peninsula so focally placed as this must have been subjected to many historical vicissitudes but, as the author points out, any scholar who seeks to reconstruct its early historical geography is beset by many problems which are largely unfamiliar to those of his fellows whose work is concentrated in the temperate occidental lands of Europe or North America.

Thus, for example, much of the physical evidence of settlement is quickly obliterated from the landscape by the ravages of climate, and the documentary records, which must inevitably provide the main sources of information, are scattered and fragmentary, and the task of unravelling and tying the appropriate threads together is immensely complicated by the number and diversity of languages in which these records are written. And indeed, owing to the many and wide variations which this last fact entails in the mere transliteration of ordinary vernacular names, the key to the early historical geography of such an area as this lies, as the author says, in the identification of place-names

Many detailed discussions, which would disturb the systematic treatment, are referred to not less than eleven appendixes. The work ends with a very full bibliography and an excellent index giving all the necessary cross-references. The value of Wheatley’s work is further enhanced by the addition of more than fifty excellently drawn maps which briefly summarize the author’s conclusions on the different aspects of his sources. This book will long remain the standard work on the historical geography of the Malay Peninsula and will prove an indispensable guide for all students of the history of South-East Asia.

PREFACE
LIST OF MAPS AND DIAGRAMS

INTRODUCTION ‘Down to the Golden Chersonese…’

PART I: CHINA AND THE MALAY PENINSULA

INTRODUCTION
1. The Portage of the South Seas
2 Rumour and Report in the Third Century A.D.
3. The Red-Earth Land
4. Towards the Holy Land
5. ‘The Barbarians of the Sea’
6. The Upper Coast
7. ‘The Barbarians of the Isles’
8. The Legacy of the Three-Jewel Eunuch

Appendix 1 – Notes on the Chinese texts mentioned above
Appendix 2 – Bibliography of the Embassy of K’ang-T’ai and Chu-Ying
Appendix 3 – Chin-lin or The Frontier of Gold
Appendix 4 – Tribute missions from the Malay Peninsula to the Chinese court to the end of the Chen-la period
Appendix 5 – John Crawford’s description of the ruins of ancient Singapore

PART II: THE MALAY PENINSULA AS KNOWN TO THE WEST

9. ‘At the very rising of the sun’
10. The Golden Khersonese

Appendix 1 – Notes on Ptolemaic scholarship
Appendix 2 – The Panarikan
Appendix 3 – Early Ptolemaic interpretations

PART III: THE INDIANS IN MALAYA

11. Suvarnadvipa
12. Buddhist and Brahman in Malaya
13. The Colas in Malaya

Appendix – Notes on Indian texts mentioned above and in Chapter XVIII

PART IV: THE ARABS IN MALAYA

Introduction
14. ‘The Wonders of India’
15. The Master Navigators: 1450-1550

Appendix – Notes on Arabic texts mentioned above

PART V: THREE FORGOTTEN KINGDOMS

16. Langkasuka
17. Takola emporion
18. ‘The seat of all felicities’

PART VI: THE ISTHMIAN AGE

19. The Isthmian Age

PART VII: ‘A CITY THAT WAS MADE FOR MERCHANDISE’

20. A city that was made for merchandise

Appendix – Two fifteenth-century descriptions of Malacca

EPILOGUE
BIBLIOGRAPHY
INDEX

Weight0.56 kg
Dimensions21.5 × 16 × 1 cm
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