Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Recapping the Timeline VI

The Nusantao eventually began to move toward the export of spices and metals from their home region. By the middle of the second millennium BC, this trade appears firmly established by both African and Asian trade routes.

The home regions of the Nusantao became widely known by these valuable products. They added to the mystique of the lands, which were also famed for agents of immortality. Like many peoples, we can safely presume that the Nusantao tended to idealize their homeland when far away.

The Altaic peoples did the same thing with the golden Altai mountains when they wandered far from home. Medieval Christians tried to make Jerusalem the center of the world on their early maps, completely distorting correct proportions in the process.

For the Nusantao, much of the idealization had some basis in reality. There were indeed precious aromatics from whence they came, perfumes whose value is still recognized to this day -- such as aloeswood, which commands higher prices than gold. Nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, cassia and other local odiferous products have been prized by many cultures and the cause of many wars. Rich sources of alluvial gold, tin and other metals existed.

The lands were lush and beautiful to behold abounding in natural diversity of all kinds.

In the same sense, this paradise could suddenly turn into a fiery or stormy hell via the forces of nature. This too was conveyed in the stories of paradise, sometimes said to be guarded by a flaming sword.

The idealized homeland became the destination in the quest for immortality. For the Nusantao, the natural interaction of the great cosmic principles is evidenced through the workings of nature itself. Theology was of secondary importance -- whether one believed in one or countless gods -- the workings of duality were equally apparent.

If one desired to meet deity, the cosmic axis mundi, the holy volcano where the three worlds met, was the place to seek. It was here that one accessed all planes of cosmic existence.

With such a concept of their home land and with such precious commodoties to offer from the region, the location became literally a place of wonder and myth in the minds of those who had heard the stories.

The wondrous tales probably aided the Nusantao in speading their trade and spiritual influence far and wide judging from the available evidence.

Artifacts, traces of their language, elements of their mythology and culture turn up in regions practically spanning the globe. Their seafaring ability combined with fierce clan competition would have drove them on distant journeys for new prospects.

The practice of shellfish gathering, fishing, sea mammal hunting, and living in semi-subterranean homes helped them in quickly adapting to foreign and hostile climates.

Paul Kekai Manansala