This gallery introduces cultures of South and Southeast Asia. South Asia includes the Republic of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka. Southeast Asia refers to Indochina and the surrounding islands. This gallery is divided into two sections: The first section features South Asian objects, and the second Cambodian, Vietnamese, and other Southeast Asian objects.
South Asia, which is often referred to as the Indian subcontinent, is as large as Europe (excluding Russia) and has long fostered diverse nationalities and culture. Its northwestern portion around the Indus River experienced multiple invasions by Aryans, Greeks, and a number of other ethnic groups from Central Asia, resulting in a great fusion of diverse cultures. In the Ganges River region, important political, religious and cultural centers flourished from ancient times based on abundant natural resources.
In the western part of India, a series of maritime trade centers developed along the coastal area and cave temples were constructed in the mountainous areas around the Deccan Plateau. In South India flourished a Dravidian culture that has cultivated its own characteristics distinct from the Aryan culture in the north. Southeast Asia established distinctive cultures by selectively absorbing Indian and Chinese influences to complement its indigenous traditions. Through the active maritime trade with India, various religions, political and social systems, and scripts were transmitted to Southeast Asia. Around the tenth century, unique regional characteristics began to manifest in Southeast Asia together with a decline of Indian and Chinese influences.