Cloaked in mystery for centuries, Suvarnabhumi has been the subject of much debate among scholars and historians alike, with many theories and traditions as to its location. From ancient bricks made of gold rich sands to the story of two monks sent on missionary activities during the reign of Indian emperor Ashoka, Suvarnabhumi is steeped in both legend and literature. We explore this fabled realm and unravel the mysteries surrounding this enigmatic Land of Gold.
Suvarnabhumi (Sanskrit) or Suvannabhumi (Pali) is known as the “Golden Land” or “Land of Gold”. Appearing in different contexts in Sanskrit and Pali texts, Suvarnabhumi is mentioned as being either a “location in mythical or religious stories” or as a reference to “short and vague accounts of trade”. Additionally, it has also appeared in Buddhist, Hindu and Jain traditions.
The exact location of Suvarnabhumi has been a topic of much discussion in scholarly as well as nationalistic contexts, and in toponymy–the study of place names and their origins, meanings and use–it remains one of the most controversial names in the history of Asia. Ancient sources have associated it with a variety of places, the most common being Oceanic Southeast Asia and Southern India, whilst other contending locations include Bengal, Thailand, and the ancient Indianised state of Funan (or Nokor Phnom), which was located in mainland Southeast Asia centred on the Mekong Delta.
Many scholars believe that the term “Suvarnabhumi” was a generic name referring to “Golden Land”, and was coined by ancient Indian traders referring to large parts of the coastal Southeast Asia region from Lower Burma (present-day Myanmar), central Thailand (Siam), the Mekong Delta, and the Malay Peninsula. While its exact location remains a matter of debate, there is little doubt that Suvarnabhumi was an important port along trade routes running through the Indian Ocean.
Legend has it that there were many maritime ventures to this fabled area in search of wealth and prosperity. Vessels were often driven offcourse by the severe weather, but those who were lucky enough to make the journey arrived at a coast where they had to embark on a long trip on foot through forested foothills of high mountains, before arriving at a forest and a shallow river rich in gold sands. Though this myth is backed up by scant evidence, archaeological excavations and research work have found that most of the Southeast Asian region did indeed have gold deposits – enough to justify the use of the term “Land of Gold” in reference to Suvarnabhumi.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Metal Revolution: The Eight Metals That Shaped Society
The discovery of metals revolutionised civilisations. Making up around 25 percent of Earth’s crust, they have shaped the way we live and governed our development and progress as a society
The Battle For Earth's Rare Metals
We’ve come a long way since our ancestors discovered copper and fashioned the first rudimentary metal objects. In recent decades, we have put the rarest metallic chemical elements to use in the most exotic applications, from smartphones to fighter jets. These abundant but highly dispersed, difficult-to-extract metals – the rare-earth elements – have become one of Asia-Pacific’s most important strategic resources.
Staying Tough: The Metal Element
Valued for their strength, durability, versatility and electrical conductivity, metals make up an important part of our society. The material of protective shields and the sharpest of swords, metal represents solidity, strength, persistence but also rigidity. Yet unbeknown to many, metals are intricately entwined within our bodies and more than just being the material of products, metal is the element of life.
The Future Of Metals
Today, metals are found in our most sophisticated technological innovations and have become essential elements in maintaining our high-tech way of life
Discovering The Wrecks Of The Philippines
The Philippines is one of the largest archipelagos in the world. With more than 7,600 islands, the country is a diver’s playground, catering to divers of all skill levels. It is also home to some of the most exciting wrecks, some of which can even be dived by beginners. Join us as we reveal the mysteries of three of the country’s best wreck dive sites.
The Fabled Realm Of Suvarnabhumi
Cloaked in mystery for centuries, Suvarnabhumi has been the subject of much debate among scholars and historians alike ...
With Rolex, The World Is Your Oyster
The word “Perpetual” is inscribed on every Rolex Oyster. But more than just a word on a dial, it is a philosophy that embodies the company’s vision and values.
A Quick Guide to Central Asia
Celebrating Nowruz - Central Asia
Get a glimpse of ancient cities along the Great Silk Road, bask in the nomadic culture and Soviet heritage, and experience the vast mountains and steppes of Central Asia. Each of the five “stans” has much to offer, especially in times of celebration
Question And Answer On The Mountain
Translated from Chinese