Capital City Origins ~ Asia Part 4
First published: Sunday December 12th, 2021
And so, fellow members of JetPunk, we arrive at our final Asian destinations. Twelve cities to go.
On a personal level, I must say that I am enjoying making these blogs immensely. A few of the cities I knew (such as Ulaanbaatar meaning "Red Hero") but the majority of them were a revelation to me too. I think I may have "caught a bug" because I am finding etymology fascinating. The way that names evolve from ancient times, or from more modern eras, has made me do research that I never realised needed doing, and as such I have learnt many things that were unknown to me a few weeks ago. JetPunk gets the brain juices flowing in a way that Facebook or other social media sites only dream about. (I'm slowly getting used to putting a capital P in the middle of JetPunk now as well).
Also, the more I make blogs, the better my writing is becoming. It's not perfect, I know, but I am tending to look for alternative words rather than just utilising the easy ones, and repeating them. I think I shall be adding a thesaurus to my very small library of reference books. I know there are websites that offer that service, but there is nothing better in my opinion than holding a book in one's hands when doing research.
Anyway, to paraphrase Chas and Dave, it seems I have "more rabbit than Sainsbury's" so I shall stop rambling and get on with our first city of Part 4.....
Before the large influx of Han Chinese immigrants in the early 18th century, the area around Taipei was inhabited mainly by indigenous peoples. The city grew rapidly after the island was declared a province of China and Taipei became the regional capital.
Taipei is a romanization of Tai-bei which means "North of Taiwan" in Chinese. Unsurprisingly Taipei lies in the far north of the island of Taiwan.
TAIPEI = NORTH OF TAIWAN
Manila is only beaten as the most natural disaster prone city by Tokyo. Despite this it is one of the most populous and fastest growing cities in Southeast Asia. It is known as the "Pearl of the Orient"
Manila's name derives from a Filipino phrase may-nila meaning "where indigo is found". It is thought to refer to the many indigo yielding plants rather than the trade in coloured dyes.
MANILA = WHERE INDIGO IS FOUND
Tracing it's history back to the 3rd century BC, Hanoi has had many names over the years. Some of it's names are...
Long Bien (Dragon Edge)...Tong Binh (song peace)...Long Do (Dragon belly)...Dai La (Big Net)...Thang Long (rising dragon)...Dong Do (eastern metropolis)...Dong Quan (eastern gate)...Dong Kinh (Eastern Capital)...Bac Thanh (northern citadel) and finally, in 1831, Ha Noi meaning "inside the rivers" refering to the city's position in the Red River delta.
HANOI = INSIDE THE RIVERS
Only replacing Yangon as the country's capital in 2015, Naypyidaw is an entirely planned city. Rational for the move varies between a greater military and government prescence in an area of turbulent regions, to a more central location within the country, to Yangon being too congested for government expansion.
Naypyidaw is Burmese for "abode of the King" and is generally translated as "Royal capital"
NAYPYIDAW = ROYAL CAPITAL
Bangkok is the name used by tourists and locals alike for this city, it's actual "official" ceremonial name is, wait for it, "Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit" which translates as "City of Angels, great city of immortals, magnificent city of the nine gems, seat of the king, city of royal palaces, home of gods incarnate, erected by Vishvakarman at Indra's behest" ....and breath. No wonder it's shortened to Bangkok !
Anyway Bangkok comes from the Thai word Bang meaning "village in the stream" and from Ko meaning "island". Therefore, we can summise that Bangkok means "village on the island in the stream". Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton should be proud !
BANGKOK = VILLAGE ON THE ISLAND IN THE STREAM
Vientiane became the capital city of Laos in 1573 following fears of a Burmese invasion, however in 1827 the city was looted and razed to the ground by the Siamese !
Vientiane is a French translation of the Lao Viangchan and was changed during the French occupation of Laos to make it easier to pronounce. In the Lao language, Viang refers to a "walled city" and chan derives from the Sanskrit word candana meaning "sandalwood". So the city name can be deduced as "Walled city of sandalwood"
VIENTIANE = WALLED CITY OF SANDALWOOD
Phnom Penh. Cambodia.
Like Bangkok, Phnom Penh has an official name that is rarely used. It is Krong Chaktomuk Mongkol Sakal Kampuchea Thipadei Serei Theakreak Bavar Intabat Borei Roat Reach Seima Moha Nokor which translates as "The place of four rivers that gives the happiness and success of Khmer Kingdom, the highest leader as well as impregnable city of the God Indra of the great kingdom".
Phnom Penh however, is named after a temple that, according to legend, was built on a hill after a wealthy widow named Penh found a hollow log in the nearby river containing four gold Buddha statues. Phnom Penh translates as "Penh's Hill"
PHNOM PENH = PENH'S HILL
Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia.
KL, as it is colloquially known, was originally a small hamlet at the junction of the Klang and Gombak rivers. The region was well known at the time for tin mining and Kuala Lumpur was the point that was furthest upstream considered navigable for supplies.
The name comes from two words, Kuala meaning "estuary" or "confluence of rivers", and lumpur meaning "mud". The name therefore translates as "Muddy Confluence"
KUALA LUMPUR = MUDDY CONFLUENCE
The island city nation of Singapore was founded in 1819 by Sir Stamford Raffles as a trading post of the British Empire. Since becoming an independent country in 1965 it's area has increased by 25% due to extensive land reclamation.
Singapore is an anglicised version of the Malay name Singapura, which is in turn derived from a Sanskrit word meaning "lion city"
SINGAPORE = LION CITY
Established in the 4th century, Jakarta is one of the oldest continously inhabited cities in SouthEast Asia. The city was an important trading port for the Sunda Kingdom and continues to attract people from all parts of Indonesia due to a higher standard of living than the rest of the country.
The name derives from the word Jayakarta, which comes from the Sanskrit words jaya meaning "victorious" and krta meaning "accomplished". So Jakarta translates as "complete victory"
JAKARTA = COMPLETE VICTORY
Bandar Seri Begawan. Brunei.
Formerly known as Brunei Town, most locals call this city just Bandar, which in Malay means simply "port". The city was a trading port and fishing village as early as the 6th or 7th century, and has prospered considerably since then, despite the Japanese invasion in 1941.
Bandar means "city" and the Seri Begawan part derives from the Sanskrit words sri bhagavan meaning "aura of the gods".
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN = CITY WITH THE AURA OF THE GODS
Dili. East Timor.
Dili was the capital of Portugese Timor and consequently the capital of East Timor or Timor L'Este after independence in 1999. Incidently the etymology of East Timor is from the Malay language where Timor means "East", so the country is actually Eastern East.
As for Dili, as yet I have been unable to find any information. I have sent messages to the embassy in London and to the British Consulate in Dili. As yet I have no reply. The only thing I could find is dili in Malay and several other languages of South East Asia means "not". I doubt that is the answer, so we await replies. Unless, of course, you know differently.
DILI = ?
Well, thats Asia completed. Almost. Dili, our last port of call has eluded me. For now anyway. I am continuing to search for information on Dili, as well as Gitega, and Lobamba, but my searches are proving unfruitful (is that actually a word ? Unfruitful ? mmm not sure. According to Google it is, that's all good then).
Anyway, onwards and upwards, our next continent is Oceania. There are only fourteen sovereign nations, so Oceania will be in one part. As will South America with only 12 nations. But I'm getting ahead of myself again. We shall be starting in Papua New Guinea, just a short hop across the border from Indonesia.
And so to Asia's meaning. Well, this is uncertain but is thought to derive from ancient Greek. There are theories that it was named after the wife of Prometheus (Hesione) or that it comes from the Greek word for a nymph. For want of a better explanation, I'll go with that.
ASIA = NYMPH (Bizarre or what ?)