The massive Indian migration to Southeast Asian


Over at my other weblog I put up a post, Indian Ancestry In Southeast Asia Is Older Than Statistical Genetic Tests Suggest. If you look at two populations in Southeast Asia and find one has Indian ancestry you often can’t find the admixture older than 1000 A.D. (in peninsular Malaysia there is more recent intermarriage between Muslim Indians and Malays too). This seems far too recent. My explanation is simple: these dates reflect the assimilation of a hybrid Indian-Southeast Asian population across much of Southeast Asia. I have done the analyses myself, and in Cambodia, I get dates around 1000 A.D. Cambodia is not close to India and there isn’t evidence of a large Diaspora in recorded history. But, we know that Hinduism was a major influence in the region, and the Vietnamese Cham are still predominantly Hindu.

The kingdom of Funan, known mostly from Chinese accounts, flourished in Cambodia for the first five centuries of the common era or so. There is an inscription in Sanskrit from the region dated to the 5th century A.D. that refers to the moon of the Kauṇḍinya line (… kauṇḍi[n]ya[vaṅ]śaśaśinā …) and chief “of a realm wrested from the mud”. The text is in the Grantha script.

Further west, Dvaravati also had a strong Indic influence, no later than the 5th century A.D.

The genetic results indicate on the order of 10-20% of the ancestry of people in central Thailand is broadly Indian. This is not a trivial fraction. Who were these people? How early did they come?

On a minor editorial note, I’ll observe there is lots of discussion about possible Indian gene flow to the north and west (into Iran and Turan), but the data on Southeast Asia is clear and of greater magnitude. But there is far less discussion and exploration of this.

17 Replies to “The massive Indian migration to Southeast Asian”

  1. I feel that both paternal and maternal ancestry of SE Asians would be almost equally Indian, as Indians marrying among themselves for a long time means that there were many Indian women in the region. I am also curious about the royal families of there, if they have more or less Indian ancestry than the general population

  2. Is the following a correct summary of your explanation: before 10th century there were (at least) two distinct endogamous groups, one with a lot of Indian ancestry and the other without, but some time after 10th century the endogamy broke and the groups coalesced, and that is what the admixture detects?

    If so, can one come up with models a la ANI/ASI for what the India-biased group and the other looked like? Will that then allow to tell us when these groups must have been taken shape, and hence migration must have taken place? To put it in another way, why does genetics tell us when the Steppe people migrated to India but not when the Indian people migrated to Southeast Asia?

  3. This makes sense. Sanjeev Sanyal (works for the Indian government) mentions in his book “The Ocean of Churn” the several waves of Indian migration into South-East Asia. First from what is not Orissa coast and later from further south (i.e. Andhra/Tamil Nadu coast)

  4. I already mentioned that one stream of Aryans went to today’s China and had a mixed experience of coexistence with them for more than 1000 of years. I also know about some later Aryan migrations to Thailand and Japan (before Japanese) but did not mention before, thinking that it would be too exotic considering that we still haven’t fully resolved India. But this information is a pleasant surprise. I may provide my information at some stage including those about Serbs, temple guardians in Thailand’s mountians which had the same moustaches as it were fashionable in Serbia until the WW1.

    1. Enough with the Serbian Bull$h!t, it is getting ridiculous. I am frankly fed up with your derailment of threads with “Ancient Serbians are Chinese, and have same moustache” crap. Stop it.

  5. On another note, the dating of admixture seems to run closer to the widespread adoption of Buddhism. Even if the populations actual praxis is quite marginal, the supremacy of the Sangha instead of the Brahmins might push admixture up when Indic-descendant populations no longer had the same place in the hierarchy, and therefore no incentive for maintaining strict endogamy

    1. Mr Iyer, why is this frustration on NY Eve? You already several times expressed your serbophobia. Obviously, you don’t know anything about Aryans and Chinese history what is not strange. But you don’t know much about Aryans in India either. You could choose just to ignore the things which you consider incorrect, but you did not. You may try to find some professional help or at least enrol some anger management course. By becoming yet another stalker you can permanently damage your mental health.

  6. As I understand it, the rates of Indian ancestry in mainland SE Asia are: ≥20% in Mons, 10-20% in Central Thais, and ~5-10% in Khmer.
    Based on this, I present the following hypothesis:
    Indian ancestry was initially concentrated among the Mon-speaking Dvaravati, though there might have been Indian-enriched endogamous minorities throughout SE Asia. The c. 1000 CE admixture date is tied to the Thai invasions. Mons received Thai input (bringing down their Indian %), Thais received Mon input (and indirectly, Indian input). Amid the chaos and demographic churn of the time, any endogamous minorities that might have existed merged into the general population around them. If that doesn’t explain the Khmer admixture event, then it derives from refugees or admixed Thai conquerors moving east, who then assimilated among the Khmer.

    btw Razib, I went to refer to your old post https://www.gnxp.com/WordPress/2011/07/23/southeast-asian-migrations/ and the images seem to be broken

    1. @Fraxinicus Pardon my ignorance, but wikipedia seems to show Mon states as mostly in Myanmar while Dvaravati seems mostly Thai?

      And does your comment say that Indian ancestry was really negligible among the Thai and the Khmer before 10th century AD notwithstanding the Funan and other indic polities in the first ten centuries AD? That is, you are giving a model different from Razib’s, wherein Indian culture spread to these parts with limited genetic impact at first, and the genetic impact came later with Thai invasions? Which invasions are these, and how did they spread to Khmer?

  7. If so, can one come up with models a la ANI/ASI for what the India-biased group and the other looked like? Will that then allow to tell us when these groups must have been taken shape, and hence migration must have taken place? To put it in another way, why does genetics tell us when the Steppe people migrated to India but not when the Indian people migrated to Southeast Asia?

    the figure in the other post shows north indian groups are fine proxies.

    the steppe stuff is based on lots of ancient DNA. there isn’t much evidence of ancient DNA in southeast asia with indian ancestry yet, except in one case from 2,000 years ago https://www.gnxp.com/WordPress/2020/01/05/indian-ancestry-in-cambodia-was-present-2000-years-ago/

    1. Thanks Razib. I should have looked at that other post more carefully before asking.

      I was tempted to read the assertion “north indian groups are fine proxies” as suggesting migrations from south Indian “upper” castes as in Pallavas etc., but while even 5th century AD is not necessarily inconsistent with Pallava influence, the much earlier dates like 100-300 AD mentioned in the other post make the whole thing more curious and intriguing.

  8. For those who have not any knowledge, but they have a shred of brain can watch the Asian map and notice how long is the Russian-Chinese border. Based on this they can mentally project in the past what was happening on this border in last couple thousands of years. It is still in our memory the war between them several decades ago. One could wander – why all river borders until recently were on Chinese riverbanks and not on the middle of the rivers. Interesting? Putin gave a present to Chinese that these borders are now in the middle of the rivers so as some pieces of land from Chinese side of the rivers. Also, in Xinjiang proto-Slavics lived for 2500 years before Chinese came there but not anymore. Another clue?

    If Indians relatively massively migrated to SE Asia in the past how probably is that some Aryan descendants also moved there? Very probably. How probably some of them had moustaches? Definitely they had (see VV’s photos).

  9. In the above link, Razib says:

    “…Then Spencer Wells told me that The Genographic Project had detected that many Cambodian males seem to carry the R1a1a lineage.”

    There is also a cover page of the book – Strange Parallels SA in Global Context c.800-1830, with a horse rider with typical moustaches.

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