Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
466
MALAYALAM—MALAY ARCHIPELAGO


great defeat there in 577. Taken by the Saracens, retaken and destroyed by Constantine Copronymus, it was presently recovered to Islam, and rebuilt under Mansur (A.D. 756). It again changed hands more than once, being reckoned among the frontier towns of Syria (Istakhry, pp. 55, 62). At length the Greeks recovered it in 934, and Nicephorus II., finding the district much wasted, encouraged the Jacobites to settle in it, which they did in great numbers. A convent of the Virgin, and the great church which bears his name, were erected by the bishop Ignatius (Isaac the Runner). From this time Malatia continued to be a great seat of the Jacobites, and it was the birthplace of their famous maphrian Barhebraeus (or Abulfaragius). At the commencement of the 11th century the population was said to number 60,000 fighting men (Assem., Bib. Or., ii. 149; cf. Barheb., Chr. Eccl., i. 411, 423). At the time of the first crusade, the city, being hard pressed by the Turks under Ibn Danishmend, was relieved by Baldwin, after Bohemund had failed and lost his liberty in the attempt. But the Jacobites had no cause to love Byzantium, and the Greek governor Gabriel was so cruel and faithless that the townsmen were soon glad to open their gates to Ibn Danishmend (1102), and the city subsequently became part of the realm of Kilij Arslan, sultan of Iconium.

See H. C. B. v. Moltke, Briefe über Zustände, &c. in der Türkei (1835–1839).  (D. G. H.) 

MALAYALAM, a language of the Dravidian family, spoken on the west coast of southern India. It is believed to have developed out of Tamil as recently as the 9th century. It possesses a large literature, in which words borrowed from Sanskrit are conspicuous. In 1901 the total number of speakers of Malayalam in all India was just about six millions.

MALAY ARCHIPELAGO[1] (variously called Malaysia, the Indian Archipelago, the East Indies, Indonesia, Insulinde), the largest group of islands in the world, lying south-east of Asia and north and north-west of Australia. It includes the Sunda Islands, the Moluccas, New Guinea, and the Philippine Islands, but excludes the Andaman-Nicobar group. The equator passes through the middle of the archipelago; it successively cuts Sumatra, Borneo, Celebes and Halmahera, four of the most important islands. A. R. Wallace (who includes the Solomon Islands as well as New Guinea in the group) points out that the archipelago “includes two islands larger than Great Britain; and in one of them, Borneo, the whole of the British Isles might be set down, and would be surrounded by a sea of forests. Sumatra is about equal in extent to Great Britain; Java, Luzon, and Celebes are each about the size of Ireland. Eighteen more islands are on the average as large as Jamaica; and more than a hundred are as large as the Isle of Wight.”

  Area. Estimated Population.
Sunda Islands 459,578 32,632,400
Moluccas, with Celebes 115,334 3,000,000
New Guinea 312,329 800,000
Philippine Islands 115,026 7,635,400

The islands of the archipelago nearly all present bold and picturesque profiles against the horizon, and at the same time the character of the scenery varies from island to island and even from district to district. The mountains are arranged for the most part in lines running either from north-west to south-east or from west to east. In Sumatra and in the islands between Sumatra and Borneo the former direction is distinctly marked, and the latter is equally noticeable in Java and the other southern islands. The mountains of Borneo, however, rise rather in short ridges and clusters. Nothing in the general physiognomy of the islands is more remarkable than the number and distribution of the volcanoes, active or extinct. Running south-east through Sumatra, east through Java and the southern islands to Timor, curving north through the Moluccas, and again north, from the end of Celebes through the whole line of the Philippines, they follow a line roughly resembling a horseshoe narrowed towards the point. The loftiest mountain in the archipelago would appear to be Kinabalu in Borneo (13,698 ft.). An important fact in the physical geography of the archipelago is that Java, Bali, Sumatra and Borneo, and the lesser islands between them and the Asiatic mainland, all rest on a great submerged bank, nowhere more than 100 fathoms below sea-level, which may be considered a continuation of the continent; while to the east the depth of the sea has been found at various places to be from 1000 to 2500 fathoms. As the value of this fact was particularly emphasized by Wallace, the limit of the shallow water, which is found in the narrow but deep channel between Bali and Lombok, and strikes north to the east of Borneo, has received the name of “Wallace’s Line.” The Philippines on the other hand, “are almost surrounded by deep sea, but are connected with Borneo by means of two narrow submarine banks” (A. R. Wallace, Island Life). The archipelago, in effect, is divided between two great regions, the Asiatic and the Australian, and the fact is evident in various branches of its geography—zoological, botanical, and even human. It is believed that there was a land-connexion between Asia and Australia in the later part of the Secondary epoch, and that the Australian continent, when separated, became divided into islands before the south-eastern part of the Asiatic did so.

The most notable fact in the geological history of the archipelago is the discovery in Java of the fossil remains of Pithecanthropus erectus, a form intermediate between the higher apes and man. In its structure and cranial capacity it is entitled to a higher place in the zoological scale than any anthropoid, for it almost certainly walked erect; and, on the other hand, in its intellectual powers it must have been much below the lowest of the human race at present known. The strata in which it was found belong to the Miocene or Upper Pliocene. Among the rocks of economic importance may be mentioned granite of numerous kinds, syenite, serpentine, porphyry, marble, sandstones and marls. Coal is worked in Sumatra, Borneo and Labuan. Diamonds are obtained in Borneo, garnets in Sumatra, Bachian and Timor, and topazes in Bachian, antimony in Borneo and the Philippines; lead in Sumatra, Borneo and the Philippines; copper and malachite in the Philippines, Timor, Borneo and Sumatra; and, most important of all, tin in Banka, Billiton and Singkep. Iron is pretty frequent in various forms. Gold is not uncommon in the older ranges of Sumatra, Banka, Celebes, Bachian, Timor and Borneo. Manganese could be readily worked in Timor, where it lies in the Carboniferous Limestone. Platinum is found in Landak and other parts of Borneo. Petroleum is a valuable product of Sumatra and Java, and is also found in Borneo.

Climate, Flora, Fauna.—The most striking general fact as regards climate in the archipelago is that wherever that part of the south-east monsoon which has passed over Australia strikes, the climate is comparatively dry, and the vegetation is less luxuriant. The east end of Java, e.g. has a less rainfall than the west; the distribution of the rain on the north coast is quite different from that on the south, and a similar difference is observed between the east and the west of Celebes. The north-west monsoon, beginning in October and lasting till March, brings the principal rainy season in the archipelago.

Most of the islands of the archipelago belong to the great equatorial forest-belt. In its economical aspect the vegetation, whether natural or cultivated, is of prime interest. The list of fruits is very extensive, though few of them are widely known. These, however, include the orange, mango, mangosteen, shaddock, guava and the durian. The variety of food-plants is equally notable. Not only are rice and maize, sugar and coffee, among the widely cultivated crops, but the coco-nut, the bread-fruit, the banana and plantain, the sugar-palm, the tea-plant, the sago-palm, the coco-tree, the ground-nut, the yam, the cassava, and others besides, are of practical importance. The cultivation of sugar and coffee owes its development mainly to the Dutch; and to them also is due the introduction of tea. They have greatly encouraged the cultivation of the coco-nut among the natives, and it flourishes, especially in the coast districts, in almost every island in their territory. The oil is largely employed in native cookery. Pepper, nutmegs and cloves were long the objects of the most important branch of Dutch commerce; and gutta-percha, camphor, dammar, benzoin and other forest products have a place among the exports.

To the naturalist the Malay Archipelago is a region of the highest interest; and from an early period it has attracted the attention of explorers of the first rank. The physical division between the Asiatic and Australian regions is clearly reflected in the botany and zoology. The flora of the Asiatic islands (thus distinguished) “is a special development of that prevailing from the Himalayas to the Malay Peninsula and south China. Farther east this flora intermingles with that of Australia” (F. H. H. Guillemard, Australasia). Similarly, in the Asiatic islands are found the great mammals of the continent—the elephant, tiger, rhinoceros,


  1. For more detailed information respecting the several islands and groups of the archipelago, see the separate articles Borneo; Java; Philippine Islands; Sumatra, &c.