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History of Padang Lawas

History of Padang Lawas

II. Societies of Padang Lawas (mid-9th – 13th century CE)

Daniel Perret
2014, Archipel 43, Cahier d'Archipel, 422p., 

For the last century and a half, the name of Padang Lawas, in the present province of North Sumatra, Indonesia, has been associated with a number of isolated Hindu-Buddhist remains located in the interior of the island. These remains are all the more remarkable because they form the largest Indianised archaeological complex known so far in the northern half of Sumatra.
This book follows the recently published volume on archaeological researches conducted at the Si Pamutung site from 2006 until 2010. Its two main purposes are firstly to present and reappraise all the available sources for the ancient history of the region and, secondly, to provide an initial synthesis of the history of Padang Lawas between the mid-ninth and the end of the thirteenth century CE.  
As no comprehensive inventory of sculptures and other artefacts reported since the mid nineteenth century had been published, the first chapter attempts to fill this gap by providing descriptions of 264 items. It is followed by four systematic studies on dozens of these items, whether stone or bronze artefacts. Furthermore, the thirteen ancient inscriptions from Padang Lawas are systematically reinvestigated or are deciphered for the first time. To this epigraphic study is associated a historical study on the indigenous writing system.
Two chapters present on the one hand the main results of recent archaeological research conducted in two other sites of the Barumun River Basin and, on the other a panorama of archaeological data on the Mandailing-Natal region situated west of Padang Lawas, in order to get a comprehensive and updated overview of the knowledge currently available of the area between both coasts of this part of Sumatra. In addition, the epigraphic study on Padang Lawas is supplemented with a reappraisal of inscriptions from Mt Sorik Merapi in this Mandailing-Natal region, and inscriptions from the site of Muara Takus on the banks of the upper reaches of the Kampar River.
The historical essay presented at the end of this volume is based on all these data. Its first part examines the economic potential of Padang Lawas in ancient times, covering nature, potential and location of natural resources, agricultural resources, tracks and waterways. Its second part seeks to characterise the political, economic and religious systems adopted by the Padang Lawas societies within as precise as possible a chronological perspective. Its last part is an attempt to identify the origins of the people living in Padang Lawas at the time, to look for indications and suggest hypotheses for significant relations woven over time between these populations and other regions in Sumatra, in the archipelago, in Southeast Asia, in the Indian Ocean, and in the China Sea.

ISBN : 978-2-910513-70-2

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