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By Anthony Milner

Simply who're ‘the Malays’? This provocative examine poses the query and considers how and why the solutions have replaced through the years, and from one sector to a different. Anthony Milner develops a sustained argument approximately ethnicity and identification in an old, ‘Malay’ context. The Malays is a accomplished exam of the origins and improvement of Malay identification, ethnicity, and recognition during the last 5 centuries.

  • Covers the political, financial, and cultural improvement of the Malays
  • Explores the Malay presence in Brunei, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, and South Africa, in addition to the fashionable Malay show-state of Malaysia
  • Offers diplomatic hypothesis approximately methods Malay ethnicity will improve and be challenged within the future

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Sample text

The ideological centrality of the ruler is present in the earliest documentation of Srivijaya, and is expressed to some extent in Old Malay as well as Sanskrit vocabulary. The question must be asked whether this type of stress on rulership may have been a local contribution to the constituting of the Srivijayan and other Indianized polities in the ‘Malay’ heritage. The local term used for ‘ruler’ in the inscriptions is datu, which is found widely in Austronesian languages. The further term kedatuan has been the subject of scholarly debate, some considering it to mean ‘palace’, others suggest ‘province’, ‘empire’, ‘kingdom’ or ‘royal centre’ (Kulke 1993, 1993a; de Casparis 1956: 18, 43).

Figure 3 The capital of Brunei in the early nineteenth century, from Frank S. Marryat, Borneo and the Indian Archipelago (London: Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans, 1848). © British Library, London. 10,000 people and a navy of 100 ships. The ruler determined the prices of all imported goods and the times when they might be traded (Hirth and Rockhill 1967: 155–159; Wheatley 1966: 281, 300; Brown 1970: 132–133). Dynamics and Transformations Attempting to give some account of these people who would at least in later centuries be claimed as ‘Malays’, I have ranged across many centuries and regions, perhaps inevitably conveying the impression of a lack of transformative change.

An eighth-century description of Tan-Tan (a polity that may have been located near Trengganu on the Peninsula) gives the ruler’s family name and personal name, and notes that he “holds audience for two periods each day, in the morning and evening”. Following Indian cosmological principles he has eight high officers of state. He also “daubs his person with fragrant powder” and “wears a head turban (with exaggerated corners)” (51). Is this the type of head turban or headkerchief, one wonders, that has been worn in recent centuries?

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