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(Mis)reading Chinese Texts in Southeast Asian History: “Moliu”, Duoluomo and the Lure of “Srivijayan” Conquests

Johannes Kurz

Pages 67 - 88


The present text challenges two assumptions by Gabriel Ferrand (1864–1935) and
George Coedès (1886–1969), the founders of “Srivijaya” history in Southeast
Asian studies, concerning Chinese source material. While Ferrand reconstructed a
new reading and understanding of a geographical term, Coedès was instrumental in
inserting mention of a Javanese polity into Chinese records. Both intentionally
changed the records in their quest to prove, firstly, that “Srivijaya” was a
historical entity that could be documented via Chinese texts, and secondly, that
the assumed state of “Srivijaya” pursued an expansive policy in the late seventh
century towards their western neighbour Malayu in Sumatra, and their eastern
neighbour Taruma in western Java. Neither Ferrand's nor Coedès' textual
interventions, however, can be maintained upon closer inspection of the sources,
and therefore the “Srivijayan” irredentism they sought to base on Chinese
sources should be discarded.


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