Chi Tu (Malay: Tanah Merah) is an ancient kingdom mentioned in the history of China. The Sui Dynasty (581-618) annals describe an advanced kingdom called Chi Tu. The location of Chi Tu was disputed to be around Kelantan or Pahang state in Malay Peninsula, or in Songkhla and Pattani Province of southern Thailand. The best evidence to support the Kelantan theory was when the envoys left Chi Tu, the sail took 10 days to reach Champa, this indicates the kingdom was located somewhere ‘red earth’ around the main river of Kelantan. The inscribed Buddhagupta Stone found in Kedah mentioned a Raktamrttika, the meaning is red earth land.
Chi Tu Kingdom
The royal family's name is Chu-dan and the king is Li-fo-duo-se. According to Chinese records, Chi Tu was built by kit mow (Mon-Khmer) peoples who sailed from the coast of Funan (southern Indochina). Centuries later, the local inhabitants, replaced Funan peoples. "...Chi Tu is a derivation nation of Funan, located in within the southern sea, sailing hundred days to reach, the majority terrain was red, thus named Red Earth Kingdom (Chi means red, Tu means earth). East bordering Po-Lo-La, West bordering Po-Lo-So, South bordering Ho Lo Tan, thousands of square miles in land area. The king has three wives and the kingdom embraced Buddhism....".
Chi Tu kingdom along with Langkasuka, Kedah and others were early important trade centers (approximately 100 BCE to 700 CE). During this period, ships coming from China and Funan (from Indian Ocean as well) stop at the coast of Malay Peninsula. They get the local porters to transport the goods, using rafts, elephants and manpower along the Early transpeninsular routeway and part of the ancient Spice Route (Sea Route).
Sources from Indian scholars
J.L. Meons (1937) believed that early Srivijaya was located in Kelantan and K.A. Nilakanta Sastri (1949) supported the idea. The Kelantan theory may not be far-fetched, since Chinese Sui Dynasty annals of the 7th century describe an advanced kingdom called Chi Tu as being in Kelantan, the name was later changed to "Sri Wijaya Mala". The capital of Sri Wijaya Mala was called "Valai", and it was situated along the upper Kelantan river of Pergau, known for its rich gold mines.
- Early History of Kedah
- Pan Pan
- Nakhon Si Thammarat kingdom (Ligor)
- Migration of Kambojas
- Sultanate of Kedah
- The ENCYCLOPEDIA of Malaysia : early history, Volume 4 / edited by Nik Hassan Shuhaimi Nik Abdul Rahman (ISBN 981-3018-42-9)