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Tombstones, Texts, and Typologies: Seeing Sources for the Early History of Islam in Southeast Asia

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This article is a case study of an iconic symbol of Indonesian Islamization: the tombstones of al-Malik al-Sālih (d.696/1297 AD), believed to be the first Muslim Sultan of the polity of Samudra in Sumatra. The author questions the dominance of textualist approaches in Southeast Asian historical inquiry by applying the concept of the "integral cultural product"—in which text, visual content and material are equally important and interdependent. This fresh analysis suggests that al-Sālih's tombstones are actually later replacements for an older grave, so raising new questions about the construction of legitimacy and ancestry in early Islamic Southeast Asia. Cette contribution étudie un symbole de l'islamisation indonésienne: les pierres tombales d'al-Malik al-Sālih (décédé en l'an 696/1297 ap. J.-C.) réputé être le premier sultan musulman du royaume de Samudra à Sumatra. L'auteur conteste la dominance de la méthode textualiste dans les recherches historiques sur l'Asie du Sud-est en utilisant le concept de "produit culturel intégral": le texte, l'aspect extérieur et la matière, interdépendants, doivent être analysés globalement. Cette approche nouvelle suggère que les pierres tombales d'al-Malik al-Sālih seraient effectivement des substituts tardifs d'un tombeau plus ancien, ce qui soulève des interrogations sur la construction de la légitimité et de l'ascendance à l'aube de l'ère islamique en Asie du Sud-est.

Affiliations: 1: Elizabeth Lambourn, Department of Design Theory and Innovation, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK


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