The Merchant and the King: Political Myths of Southeast Asian Polities
By Pierre-Yves Manguin
Published in Indonesia (Ithaca), 26th December 2002
The relationship between the rise of maritime trade and the formation and development of coastal polities in South-East Asia has recently become the focus of interest for many scholars of the region. The main problem tackled by the author of this article is to what extent were these coastal polities the product of an indigenous development and to what extent was overseas trade a major factor. His approach has been to look at trading places in their early phases of development as they perceived themselves. He begins with a summary of a few tales from pesisir societies in the harbour cities of Java, Bali, Sumatra and Kalimantan. He then points out the later transformations undergone by myths in the 15th and 16th centuries, concomitant with the expansion of Islam. Yet this topic he feels still requires more investigation.