author={Stanley Jeyaraja Tambiah},
  journal={Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences},
  • S. Tambiah
  • Published 1 July 1977
  • Art
  • Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
I have coined the label galactic polity to represent the design of traditional Southeast Asian kingdoms, a design that coded in a composite way cosmological, topographical, and politico-economic features. The label itself is derived from the concept of mandala, which according to a common Indo-Tibetan tradition is composed of two elements-a core (rnanda) and a container or enclosing element (la). Mandala designs, both simple and complex of satellites arranged around a center, occur with such… 


Some published accounts—generally, but not exclusively, older ones— describe the activities of Ternate and Tidore with respect to their historic peripheries in terms of boundaries, territories, and

Indigenous States of Southeast Asia

Compared with the precocious empires of East and South Asia, Southeast Asia has traditionally been considered a cultural and political backwater and its people as receptors rather than creators of

The Islamic City: Melaka to Jogjakarta, c. 1500–1800

The concept of the city as religious centre, administrative capital and economic pivot for a society, state or kingdom, expressed in the Islamic concept of madina (Gibbs and Kramers 1961: 291;

Galactic Polities: Anthropological Insights for Understanding States in Yemen’s pre-Ottoman Past

} > ! > + ! ” ! Q " @ * others, into one of the most complex and in fact most challenging topics of studying Yemen’s past and present. This concerns the roles of the state, or rather, of states, in

Cultural anthropology, future tasks for Bijdragen, and the Indonesian Field of Anthropological study

The Note from the Editors of Bijdragen 148-1 states that the journal shall in future concentrate on Southeast Asia. This will entail a regional narrowing with respect to world-wide subjects covered

Putting the Mandala in its Place: A Practice-based Approach to the Spatialization of Power on the Southeast Asian ‘Periphery’—The Case of the Akha

In this article, I argue that the ‘mandala’ and other spatialized concepts associated with the ‘cosmic polity’ in Southeast Asia (such as ‘exemplary center’ and ‘sinking status’, ‘galactic polity’,

Ethnohistorical Archaeology and the Mythscape of the Naga in the Chiang Saen Basin, Thailand

  • Piyawit Moonkham
  • Sociology
    TRaNS: Trans -Regional and -National Studies of Southeast Asia
  • 2021
Abstract There is a northern Thai story that tells how the naga—a mythical serpent—came and destroyed the town known as Yonok (c. thirteenth century) after its ruler became immoral. Despite this

Enclaves of Improvement: Sovereignty and Developmentalism in the Special Zones of the China-Lao Borderlands

  • P. Nyiri
  • Economics
    Comparative Studies in Society and History
  • 2012
Abstract The highlands of mainland Southeast Asia have famously been the locus of “Zomia,” polities resistant to control by lowland nation-states, but this relative resilience has been due to their

Classic Maya settlement patterns and political iconography in the Puuc region, Mexico

A regional investigation of the ancient Maya settlement patterns of the Puuc suggests that this region was occupied by increasing numbers of people seeking to maximize control over prime agricultural

Worshipping Relics and Animating Statues. Transformations of Buddhist statecraft in contemporary Laos*

Abstract In Laos—one of the few remaining ‘officially’ socialist countries—Buddhism was abolished as a state religion after the revolution in 1975. However, since the 1990s the communist government



The Indianized states of Southeast Asia

The author of this broad social and cultural history is Vice-Chancellor of the Jamia Millia Islamia and a leading exponent of the 'nationalist' view of the subject. Thus he finds 'the only unifying

Ancient Siamese government and administration

  • H. Wales
  • Economics
    The Journal of Asian Studies
  • 1966
standing of the matrilineal system of Negri Sembilan, and is thus a noteworthy addition to the literature on comparative social organization. There is a good concise summary of the traditional

Conceptions of State and Kingship in Southeast Asia

At A time when the whole political system of Southeast Asia seems to be on the verge of complete reshapement and when a new cycle of development, dominated by native forces, may be expected to emerge

State and Statecraft in Old Java: A Study of the Later Mataram Period, 16th to 19th Century

story through to the present day, looking briefly at the effect of three powerful forces: western domination; the crystallization of an activist nation-state; and the increasing influence of

Islam Observed: Religious Development in Morocco and Indonesia

  • C. Geertz
  • Economics
    The Journal of Asian Studies
  • 1969
"In four brief chapters," writes Clifford Geertz in his preface, "I have attempted both to lay out a general framework for the comparative analysis of religion and to apply it to a study of the

Thousand-Armed Kannon:A Mystery or a Problem?

As his final word in a debate on Buddhism and its appeal to the Western mind, a well -informed Dominican Father, an expert in Tibetan and Zen Buddhism, once said me "I will not deny that our earthly

The organization of Thai society in the early Bangkok period, 1782-1873

as a mechanism by which to adjust their relations with other ethnic groups. Two papers on the possible contribution of linguistics to better Thai-minority relations round out this collection. D.

Thai Regional Elites and the Reforms of King Chulalongkorn

  • M. Vickery
  • Political Science
    The Journal of Asian Studies
  • 1970
Abstract Beginning in 1892 Prince Damrong as minister of the interior in King Chulalongkorn's reformed government began a reorganization of provincial administration. At that time the country was

Peasant marketing in Java

Between 1778 and 1822 four British missions visited Cochin China: Chapman in 1778, Macartney in 1793, Roberts in 1803, and finally Crawfurd in 1822. Each was anxious to advance British interests in

The theory and practice of the Mandala

  • A. Bharati
  • Psychology
    The Journal of Asian Studies
  • 1962
This handsome little volume is Alan Houghton Brodrick's translation of the Italian Original (Teoria e Pratica del Mandala, Rome: 1949). It is an important book, no doubt, though of all the learned