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By Colin Brown

This succinct paintings of heritage charts the expansion of Indonesia, a outstanding kingdom of greater than 6,000 inhabited islands. With lucid originality, the textual content accommodates greater than 2 million years of historical past with intensity and brevity-particularly targeting Indonesia's improvement right into a microcosm of a multi-ethnic glossy international. Many present issues are perceptively addressed, akin to the legacy of European-Asian exchange, Dutch colonialism, and the emergence of what has develop into the biggest Muslim inhabitants on the earth.

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Sample text

However, careful analysis of these records, and of remnants of the goods themselves, shows clearly that many of the original Persian items had been replaced by goods from the Indonesian archipelago. Just when this substitution began is not known, but it seems to have become well established by about the seventh century. By this time the Indonesian ports were experiencing their first international trade boom, boosted not only by the expanding trade with China but also by increasing Arab demand for Indonesian products, especially spices from the Maluku islands such as cloves, nutmeg and mace, and increasing Indonesian demand for exports from south Asia, such as cotton cloth.

Among them was a significant number of Muslims. 1 34 T h e a g e o f c o m m e r c e 1 4 0 0 –1 7 0 0 Indeed, during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, while China forbade its citizens to travel abroad, those who by whatever means did manage to get to Southeast Asia had little option other than to remain, and to do so meant assimilating into the local communities. Apart from anything else, there was little possibility of renewing either their cultural roots or their numbers through the arrival of new people and ideas from China.

Another important factor promoting Islam here was that its most active missionaries were Sufis, members of a mystical Islamic sect. The ideas they promoted, including the veneration of saints and pilgrimages to sacred places, fitted in quite easily with many pre-existing religious beliefs and practices in Java. The rulers of Mataram were the central element in both the political and the religious structures of the state. And here we can see that, although now Muslim in form and symbolism, in many respects Mataram continued to follow the practices of its Hindu and Buddhist predecessors.

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