Ha Tien or Banteay Meas in the Time of the Fall of Ayutthaya

by Yumio Sakurai & Takako Kitagawa

Pepper and Power: Chinese Port Colonies and Khmer, Siam and Vietnamese rivalries in the Mekong Delta area.

Kampot Pepper Michael Sullivan Npr

Publication: Ha Tien or Banteay Meas in the Time of the Fall of Ayutthaya’, in From Japan to Arabia: Ayutthaya's Maritime Relations with Asia, ed. Kennon Breazele, Toyota Thailand Fundation, 1999, Bangkok, pp 150-218

Published: 1999

Authors: Yumio Sakurai & Takako Kitagawa

Pages: 68

Language : English

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This detailed study of Cambodian, Vietnamese and Siamese sources depicts the power struggles around the southern maritime façade in the Mekong Delta during the 18th and early 19th centuries. Commercial ‘principalties’, often led by local Chinese rulers, saw the military rivalries between Siamese, Vietnamese and Khmer kings as an opportunity to gain more leeway. However, note the authors, “after the fall of Ayutthaya, because of the confused situation in the kingdoms along these coastlines, the port polities were able to assert greater independence and expand their territories. The progress of this trend was halted by the two big states that emerged at the end of eighteenth century as the result of state consolidation: the Siam of Thonburi and Bangkok, and the Vietnam of the Tay Son and Nguyen rulers. International trade in this period came under the control of the state in the form of royal monopolies. The history of Ha Tien should be regarded as a typical case of the rise and fall of Chinese port polities between the post- "Age of Commerce" and the precolonial stage of history.”

ADB Input:

  • While it has been supposed that the famous Kampot Pepper originated from Kerala, South India, Chinese explorer Zhou Daguan mentioned pepper cultivation in Chenla (Cambodia) as early as the 13th century.
  • In Kampot, the modern era of intensive pepper production can be traced back to the 1870s, when the Sultan of Aceh, who did not want to leave his wealth to the Dutch enemies, burned his pepper plantations down in 1873. Part of the production then moved to Cambodia’s Kampot region.
  • See also Hà Tiên và sự hình thành nước Việt Nam hiện đại (Ha Tien and The Formation of Modern Vietnam), by Vu Duc Liem, TiaSang, 2017.

Tags: 18th century, 19th century, Siam, Vietnam, maritime trade, pre-colonial Cambodia, pepper, Kompong Som, Banteay Meas, Kampot

About the Authors

Sakurai Yumio

Yumio Sakurai

Sakurai Yumio 桜井由躬雄 (31 Jan. 1945, Tokyo - 17 Dec. 2012) was an Japanese historian who specialized in the history of Southeast Asia, in particular its links with Japan.

With doctorates from the University of Tokyo and (honorary) University of Vietnam, he authored several books and essays on early Southeast Asia history, and edited the Japanese translation of George Coedes's History of Indochina Civilization.

Takako Kitagawa

Kitagawa Takako 北川香子 is a Japanese researcher who studied at the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies, University of Tokyo.

In 2005, she published her research 'Kampot of the Belle Époque: From the Outlet of Cambodia to a Colonial Resort'. With a special interest in Cambodian pre-modern and modern history, she also authored 'Queen Mothers of Post-Angkor Cambodia' (Sept. 2019). She contributed to several collective books, including 東南アジア史研究の展開 山川出版社 (2009), アンコール・ワットが眠る間に-カンボジア 歴史の記憶を訪ねて連合出版 (2009), カンボジアおよびシャム王国踏査行 京都大学東南アジア研究所 (2008) 新版 東南アジアを知る辞典 平凡社 (2008) 東南アジア史研究の展開カンボジア旅行記 連合出版 (2007), カンボジア旅行記 連合出版 (2007).