China’s overseas communications with Southeast Asia as reflected In Chinese epigraphic materials: 1264-1800
The Chinese began to forge links with and travel to many countries in Southeast Asia from early times. This can be seen from archaeological finds across the region and is recorded in the literature of the time. Inscriptions in the form of epigraphic materials also provide insights into the travels of the Chinese during the period, including likely origins and departure and arrival sites. Four kinds of epigraphic materials have been discovered throughout China, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and Thailand, including inscriptions in stones and wood, which record events for posterity; inscriptions on tombstones, which record the names and sometimes the origins of the deceased; wooden tablets carrying details of the donor; and bronze or cast iron bells, which often record the names of deities, temples and details of the foundry. These objects thus provide valuable information about Chinese travel before the 19th century.