بسم الله الر حمن الر حيم
The Orang Melayu and Orang Jawa in the ‘Lands Below the Winds’:
Notes on the Historical Imprints of the ‘Civic-Ethnic’ Distinction in Indonesia and Malaysia
By Riwanto Tirtosudarmo
The ‘lands below the winds’ is a phrase found in Muhammad ibn Ibrahim’s book: The Ship of Sulaiman, which details the presence of Persian traders in the eastern Indian ocean region in the seventeenth century (published in Persian in 1688, translated into English by J. O’Kane and published by Routledge and Kegan Paul in 1972). Anthony Reid borrowed the phrase in the title of his book: Southeast Asia in the Age of Commerce 1450-1680 (Volume one: The Lands Below the Winds, 1988). This phrase connotes a vast area known also as the Malay world that is now generally referred to as Southeast Asia. According to Bastin and Benda (1968: v), the collective concept of “Southeast Asia” was long familiar in Chinese and Japanese usage as Nanyang and Nampo – or ‘the region of the Southern Seas.’ Apart from geographical proximity of the lands in this region, the overlapping histories of its peoples obviously has allowed for the creation of one interconnected region. While the history of contact between people in Asia before the arrival of the Europeans left its imprint on the region, it was European colonisation that profoundly transformed the region into something resembling its current form. The European colonisation that began in the fifteenth century, the decolonisation process initiated in the twentieth century, and the more recent era of ‘nation-building’ constitute the basis for more current developments in Southeast Asia.