The Chinese name for the first state to appear in Southeast Asia; it had its capital in southern Vietnam.
Also called steppe, this arid land is easily cropped by horses, but is too dry for crop agriculture.
An honorary name given to the Mongol ruler Chinggis in 1206.
The numerous Indian castes.
The four units into which Chinggis divided the Mongol Empire.
Wandering peoples who have no fixed home and move from place to place in search of food, water, and land.
The Muslim classification used for Hindus, Christians, and Jews; they were allowed to follow their religions, but had to pay a special tax.
India's classical literary language.
A practice whereby a high-caste Hindu woman would throw herself on her husband's funeral pyre.
A maritime empire that held the Strait of Malacca and the waters around Sumatra, Borneo, and Java.
Another name for the arid grasslands that are common in Central Asia.
The Mongol process of allowing Central Asian Muslim merchants to bid against each other for licenses to collect taxes.
Tents in which the Mongols lived; they could be dismantled and loaded onto animals or carts in a short time.
Central Asian Nomads
Central Asia, dominated by the grasslands or steppes, was the home of three confederations of nomadic tribes, the Xiongnu (Huns), the Turks, and the Mongols.
The first to leave written accounts of themselves, the Turks came to prominence in the sixth century, when western tribes made themselves masters of a long section of the Silk Road
Cousins of the Turks
Their eastern cousins frequently raided China and fought its imperial armies. One group, the Uighurs, built an empire in the eight century that fell to the Kyrgz in the ninth. These eastern Turks ultimately settled in towns and cities, as did western Turks, such as the Seljuks, who invaded and settled in Asia Minor and the eastern Mediterranean coast. The Mongols lived north of the Khitans and Jurchens and maintained their traditional ways.
Prior to the periods of great conquests, these peoples moved with their animals between winter and summer pastures—living in tents (yurts) and subsisting on a diet of mostly animal products that left them susceptible to famine. Women, like men, had to work hard and had to be expert riders—and were active in making family decisions. Families were of clans made up tribes. Tribes stole men from each other—and hence tribal raiding was a part of daily life. Before the late twelfth century the Mongols lived in nomadic camps, raised their animals, trained for battle, and worshipped under the guidance of shamans.part of clans, and groups
Chinggis Khan and the Mongol Empire
Beginning in the late twelfth century, the brilliant and ruthless leader Temujin, or Chinggis, started his people on the path that would lead to world empire. Under Chinggis the Mongol tribes subdued other tribal groups, and in 1206 Chinggis united the tribes and assumed leadership and the title of Great Khan. The Mongols turned first on Jurchen and then on China. They destroyed many Chinese cities and then moved westward to Central Asia and Persia—then in the hands of the Turks. Hundreds of thousands of people were massacred.
After the death of Chinggis, his empire was divided into four khanates, each ruled by one of his descendants. Chinggis's sons and their descendants invaded Europe—gaining control of Moscow and Kiev, and looting cities in Poland and Hungary. They then turned to Persia and the Middle East—taking Baghdad in 1258, and then (under Khubilai) completed their conquest of Korea and China. Mongol expansion in the east ended with the failed invasions of Japan and Southeast Asia.
The Mongols as Rulers
Much of the Mongol success was due to their willingness to incorporate other ethnic groups into their armies and governments. Mongol leaders welcomed people of all religions. Although the Mongol Empire did not fall until 1405, by then it was no longer a pan-Asian empire but a collection of mutually hostile successor states.
East-West Communication During the Mongol Era
Overall, the Mongols did more to foster the movement of people and goods across Eurasia than any earlier political group.
Between 300 and 1400 India felt the impact of developments in Central Asia.
The Gupta Empire (ca. 320-480)
Before 500 the major Indian state was the Empire of Gupta. The greatest of the Guptas, Chandragupta II, overthrew the Shakas in west India, bringing about increased trade and agricultural production. Religious toleration and the arts flourished, but the Guptas could not hold back the invasion of the nomadic Huns from Central Asia.
India's Medieval Age (ca. 500-1400) and the First Encounter with Islam
In 711 India came under attack from Islamic armies from Iraq. Pressure from succeeding Islamic states increased, culminating with establishment of the Delhi Sultanate under Turkish rulers from Afghanistan. After much destruction and looting of Hindu temples, Muslim Turks allowed for some religious toleration (but not for Buddhists) and although some Indians adopted Islam, most Indians looked on the Muslim overlords as a new ruling caste. South India remained free of these invasions and so small Hindu kingdoms flourished. For centuries the Delhi Sultanate held off the Mongols, but by 1398 it fell to the armies of the Mongol leader Tamerlane.
Daily Life in Medieval India
Life was dominated by the caste system. Guilds developed to oversee conditions of work and trade. Agriculture, small (sometimes walled) villages, and the maturity of the caste system (including development of jati) were the dominant aspects of daily life. Marriage and the family were the focus of individual life.
Southeast Asia, to 1400
During this period India left its own cultural mark on Southeast Asia. While the northern part of Vietnam was under Chinese control, a southern Vietnamese state, called Funan, spread out over much of Indochina and the Malay Peninsula—providing a trading and cultural circle for Indian merchants, Brahman priests, and Buddhist monks.
Influences of India
This Indian influence continued even after the decline of Funan, as did Indian influence in the independent state of Tai and the Khmer Empire of Cambodia. Also drawing on Indian tradition and Sanskrit writing was the maritime empire of Srivijaya based on the island of Sumatra, and dominating the waters in that area and extending up to the Malay Peninsula. After 800 it was the early Indian form of Buddhism (called Theravada Buddhism) that dominated in Southeast Asia.
The Spread of Indian Culture in Comparative Perspective
Overall, it was not direct Indian control that was the key to the expansion of Indian culture, but an extension of trade and religious networks.