Sanskritfor "resplendent land" -"sukkha" of "bliss") was an ancient Hindu Malay kingdom located in the Malay Peninsula. Another possible source of its name could be the combination of (-"langkha" Sanskritfor "resplendent land" - and Asokain tribute to the legendary MauryanHindu warrior king who eventually became a pacifist after embracing the ideals espoused in Buddhism). The kingdom along with Old Kedah are probably the earliest kingdom founded on the Malay Peninsula. According to tradition the founding of the kingdom happened in the 2nd century. Malay legends claim that Langkasuka was founded at Kedah, and later moved to Pattani. It is believed that Langkawiderived its name from Langkasuka. On the other hand, the name Langkawi could also possibly have come about from (-"langkha" Sanskritfor "resplendent land" - and "Awi" in homage to the illustrious general Awi Dichu of ancient Siam, who some believe led a Siamese invasion and conquest of the area.
The historical record is sparse, but a Chinese
Liang Dynastyrecord (c. 500 AD) refers to the kingdom of "Lang-ya-xiu" ( _zh. 狼牙脩) as being founded in the 1st century AD. As described in the Chinese chronicles, Langkasuka was thirty days' journey from east to west, and twenty from north to south, 24,000 "li" in distance from Guangzhou. Its capital was said to be surrounded by walls to form a city with double gates, towers and pavilions. Langkasuka at the beginning adopted Buddhismand a South Indian system of writing (ie, Vatteluttu), and was inhabited mostly by "chi-mo" (Khmer) peoples who were ruled by Hindu kings. The Buddhist monk Yi Jing mentioned encountering three Chinese monks who lived in "Lang-chia-su".
The kingdom's designation in Chinese records changed over time: it was known as "Lang-ya-se-chia" during the
Song dynasty(960-1279); "Long-ya-si-jiao" during the Yuan Dynasty(1279-1368); and "Lang-se-chia" during the Ming Dynasty(1368-1644), as evidenced by the Mao Kun map of Admiral Zheng He.
The name "Langkasuka" was also mentioned in Malay and Javanese chronicles. Tamil sources name "Ilangasoka" as one of Rajendra Chola's conquests in his expedition against the
Srivijayaempire. It was described as a kingdom that that was "undaunted in fierce battles".
In 515 AD King Bhagadatta first established relations with China, with further embassies sent in
523, 531and 568. In the 12th centuryLangkasuka was a tributary to the Srivijayaempire, and around the 15th centuryit was replaced by the Pattani Kingdom.
1963, Stewart Wavell led a Cambridge Expedition to locate Langkasuka and Tambralinga. The details of this expedition can be read in "The Naga King's Daughter", published by Antara Books.
Langkasuka in popular culture
A Thai movie entitled "Queen of Pattani" or "Queen of Lung Gasuka" directed by
Nonzee Nimibutr, loosely based on a south Pattani myth will be released in 2008.
* [http://www.sabrizain.org/malaya/early1.htm A History of the Malay Peninsula: Langkasuka]
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