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The Rajahnate of Cebu

on Thursday, 29 December 2016. Posted in Royals

A Philippine Kingdom of a Tamil Chola Prince

The Rajahnate of Cebu

The Chola, surname of a family who founded an ancient Tamil dynasty in Southeastern India were one of the longest-ruling dynasties in that part of the world. During the period 1010–1200, its territories stretched from the islands of the Maldives in the south to as far north as the banks of the Godavari River in Andhra Pradesh. They annexed parts of what is now Sri Lanka and sent an expedition to North India that touched the river Ganges where they defeated the Pala ruler of Pataliputra in Mahipala. Thereafter, they success-fully invaded kingdoms of the Malay Archipelago, then occupied Sumatra and part of the island of Borneo in Indonesia installing members of their own family as rajahs (kings) to rule over the local inhabitants until the dynasty itself went into decline at the beginning of the 13th century with the rise of the Pandyas, who ultimately caused their downfall. 


The Rajahnate of Cebu, a classical Philippine state which existed in the centre of the Visayas region prior to the arrival of the Spanish, was one founded by Sri Lumay or ‘Rajamuda Lumaya’, its first ruler. He was a minor but ambitious native prince from Sumatra who traced his ancestry to the Chola dynasty. It is said that he was sent to the Philippines by the ruling maharajah to “es-tablish a forward base for expeditionary forces.” 


The Philippine archipelago was strategically positioned in Southeast Asia that it naturally became part of the trade route of the ancient world. Agricultural products were bartered for Chinese silk cloths, bells, porcelain wares, iron tools, oil lamps, and medicinal herbs. From Japan, perfume and glass utensils were usually traded for native goods. Ivory products, leather, precious and semi-precious stones and sarkara (sugar) mostly came from the Burmese and Indian traders. The Maharaja of Sumatra obviously wanted to extend his influence and protect his interests in all these lucrative trading activities but was thwarted when Rajamuda Lumaya took a turn of mind and rebelled by establishing his own independent Rajahnate instead.