As an Islamic state, Brunei traces its early history to its first Muslim ruler; earlierhistoryisentwined with myth and legend, making it difficult to reconstruct a chronology linking the present-day dynasty to an early kingdom. Although transliteration from the Chinese can pose a problem in identifying place names, the most reliable source for early dating is to be found in Chineserecords based on the reports of official court envoys as well as merchants and travelers. There is some evidence that an early mainland kingdom called Funan may be linked to the later kingdoms of Brunei. From as early as the fifth century, the north coast of Borneo has been a stopping-off point on the maritime trade route between China and Indonesia. Trading of camphor and cowries, products for which northwest Borneo is known, are useful references for placinghistoricalrecords in the area that is now Brunei. Following the emergence of the state called P'o-ni by the Chinese, which is possibly linked to earlier kingdoms, more reliable traces are made.
A.D.630: Chinese sources describe a kingdom named P'o-li, which some scholars place in northwest Borneo.
680s: There is evidence of possible settlement along the Bay of Brunei at this time; the settlement becomes known as P'o-ni or Fo-ni in Chinese.
8th century: Chinese coins dating from this time are found at Kota Batu, near Brunei's present-day capital.
835: Records of trade in camphor suggest that northwest Borneo may have connections with Srivijaya at this time.
c. 987: P'o-ni, which in the seventeenth century the Chinese call Bun-lai, and is most likely Brunei, is described as an independent state at this time in an Arabic journal.
13th century: By this time P'o-ni has a large fleet, trades in camphor, and possibly extends its influence to the Sulu archipelago and the Philippines.
1365: According to the Negarakertagama, the Javanese court poem of this time, Burungeng (Brunei) is a tributary state of the Javanese Majapahit empire.
1369: P'o-ni is sacked by Sulu raiders but remains under Majapahit control.