Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Maori and Polynesian: their origin, history and culture

The Most Likely Starting-point was the Coast of — the punjaub

The Most Likely Starting-point was the Coast of
the punjaub

(11) Of one thing we may be sure, namely, that the ancestors of the Polynesians had been long immersed in maritime adventures before they reached Indonesia. And there is no part of the eastern shore of India that has protected waters, fiords, or straits extensive enough to nurse a far-voyaging people. The nearest coast of this type in the south of Asia is the mouth of the Indus and the Gulfs of Cutch and Cambay, to the south of the Punjaub. There it is possible that a race of sailors may have been reared in prehistoric times, especially as there are at no great distance the inland waters of the Persian Gulf, where on the Bahrein Islands the Phenicians learned their maritime skill and daring before they migrated to the shores of the Mediterranean. And we know that in the fourth century before our era Alexander's fleet kept up communications and supplies all along that coast when his army marched back from India, and, though he is said to have built a fleet up the Hydaspes or Jhelum for the purpose, this meant a large supply of ships and sailors and pilots native to these South Asiatic waters. The Macedonians were by no means a far-voyaging nation, and his admirals must, therefore, have found all the material and men for his fleet in the region. One of them, Nearchus, is said to have ventured as far as Sumatra in 323he must have been induced by his Asiatic captains to follow the usual route of their expeditions and commerceand his voyage proves that from the south coast of the Punjaub to the coast of Sumatra was a route easy and familiar, and hence traditional to the dwellers in that part of India,

page 105

(12) And there are historical indications of earlier intercourse between India and Indonesia. The Chinese had heard of people from India to the south of the Annam peninsula as early as 460 b.c. And a Phenician inscription in South Sumatra is assigned to the same period. Javan traditions, as quoted by Mr. Percy Smith, from Forlong's "Short Studies in the Science of Comparative Religions" (1897), make definite reference to large migrations from India in the third century before our era. According to these, Arishtan Shar led to Indonesia from the north-west of India 20,000 families, "most of whom dispersed en route, probably in Malabar, Maladiva, and Malagassar"; and ten years later a similar number of families migrated to Java from the Kling coast, that is, the north-east coast of India, "and established Vishnuism"; whilst in the beginning of the second century before our era "a large body of Desa Sagala from Panjab went to Java." The size of these migrations implies that they were armies meant to force a settlement for their families by conquest. And the transport of twenty thousand families, or close on a hundred thousand people, postulates enormous fleets of large ships or canoes accustomed to traverse the route from the north-west of India under skilled and trustworthy seamanship.