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Mekong River, approximately 4180km in length, originated from Tibet and runs through Yunnan province of China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and South Vietnam. Anthropologists traced the migration of Proto Malays, who were seafarers, to some 10,000 years ago when they sailed by boat (canoe or perahu) along the Mekong River from Yunnan to the South China Sea and eventually settled down at various places.
Inhabitants of early Yunnan may be traced back into prehistory from a homo erectus fossil, 'Yuanmou Man', which was unearthed in the 1960s. In year 221 BC, Qin Shihuang conquered Yunnan and unified China. Yunnan has since become a province of China. They were the ancestors of rice eating peoples, with their culture of cultivating rice spread throughout the entire region. The native name of the Mekong River peoples' home in Yunnan is Xishuangbanna (Sipsongpanna) which literally means "twelve thousand rice fields", it is the home of the Dai minority. Xishuangbanna sits at a lower altitude than most of the Yunnan mountainous ranges.
Yunnan migration theory
The theory of Proto Malay originating from Yunnan is supported by R.H Geldern, J.H.C Kern, J.R Foster, J.R Logen, Slametmuljana and Asmah Haji Omar. The Proto Malay (Melayu asli) who first arrived possessed agricultural skills while the second wave Deutero Malay (mixed blood) who joined in around 1500 BC and dwelled along the coastlines have advanced fishery skills. During the migration, both groups intermarried with peoples of the southern islands, such as those from Java (Indonesian), and also with aboriginal peoples of Australoid, Negrito and Melanesoid origin.
Other evidences that support this theory include:
- Stone tools found at Malay archipelago are analogous to Central Asian tools.
- Similarity of Malay customs and Assam customs.
- Malay language & Cambodian language are kindred languages because the ancestral home of Cambodians originated from the source of Mekong River.
Oldest Malay text
The Kedukan Bukit Inscription of 682 CE found at Palembang and the modern Yunnan Dai minority's traditional writings were of the same language family of Pallava, also known as Pallava Grantha. Dai ethnic (or Dai minority) of Yunnan is one of the aboriginal inhabitants of modern Yunnan province of China. (Picture) is taken from Jinghong city of Yunnan, a modern doorframe with Dai minority texts & Chinese, at right is the ancient Kedukan Bukit inscription.