clude the existence of early settlements or are not yet evidence of trade with China. However, the solution can be found in Wolters' book on the fall of Sriwijaya, referred to by Hall (1970: 61-62).
”Dr O.W. Wolters has recently attempted to interpret the evidence by means of what is known of the changing patterns of Asian trade, and especially the growing importance of Chinese overseas voyages. Dr Wolters observes that, until the end of the eleventh century, China was dependent on foreign ships in the commerce with the Nanyang. Trade had to be carried on according to the ”tributary” system laid down by the imperial court in its dealings with individual foreign states. That is to say, trade with China was not open and free to all merchants, Chinese or foreign. It was restricted to the ”Tribute” missions, sent to the emperor by his ”vassal” barbarian rulers, or at least to the so-called vassals”.
Dr Wolters suggests that the importance of Sriwijaya lay in its role as an entrepot needed by merchants trading to and from China. ”All this changed during the period of the Southern Sung (1127 - 1278). Their dependence upon seaborne trade led them to open the trade to the Nanyang with Chinese vessels. There was a great expansion of the Chinese mercantile marine and Chinese vessels began to trade directly with South-East Asian ports. Chau Ju - Kua, for instance, mentions in 1225, that Chinese merchants were visiting Java, while another source mentions that they were visiting the Gulf of Siam. Others followed their example and we hear of Tamil and Cairo merchants trading directly to North Sumatra for camphor.”
What can we conclude? Prior to the 12th century the trade in the archipelago and perhaps even to China was mostly in the hands of Indonesian traders and navigators. This may be the reason for the absence of early Chinese porcelain sherds on ancient sites. For Indonesians would probably use their own earthenware and when clay was lacking (as on the Polynesian islands), they would make use of leaves, wood, bamboo, and gourds38)