Champa Vietnam

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Author: Laxman Burdak IFS (R)
Location of Champa on Map of Taungoo Empire (1580)
The territory of Champa circa 1000–1100, depicted in green, lay along the coast of present-day southern Vietnam. To the north (in yellow) lay Đại Việt; to the west (in blue), Angkor.

Champa (Hindi:चम्पा , Vietnamese: Chăm Pa) was a collection of independent Cham polities that extended across the coast of what is today central and southern Vietnam from approximately the 2nd century AD before being absorbed and annexed by Vietnamese Emperor Minh Mạng in AD 1832.[1]



The Champa Kingdom was known variously as Nagara Campa (Sanskrit: नगरः चम्पः; Khmer: ចាម្ប៉ា) in the Chamic and Cambodian inscriptions, Chăm Pa in Vietnamese (Chiêm Thành in Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary) and 占城 (Zhànchéng) in Chinese records.

The kingdom of Champa was founded by king Sri Mara. King Sri Mara calls himself in the aforesaid rock edict to have been a Kalingan in origin and a descendant of the Varmas.

Reference-P.C.Rath, ‘Maritime Activities of Kalinga’, Journal of Kalinga Historical Research Society, Vol.1, No.4, (March, 1947), p.350

R.C.Majumdar, Champa, p.21.

Champa was preceded in the region by a kingdom called Linyi (林邑, Lim Ip in Middle Chinese), or Lâm Ấp (Vietnamese), that was in existence since AD 192; although the historical relationship between Linyi and Champa is not clear. Champa reached its apogee in the 9th and 10th centuries AD. Thereafter, it began a gradual decline under pressure from Đại Việt, the Vietnamese polity centered in the region of modern Hanoi. In 1832, the Vietnamese emperor Minh Mạng annexed the remaining Cham territories.

Hinduism, adopted through conflicts and conquest of territory from neighboring Funan in the 4th century AD, shaped the art and culture of the Champa kingdom for centuries, as testified by the many Cham Hindu statues and red brick temples that dotted the landscape in Cham lands. Mỹ Sơn, a former religious center, and Hội An, one of Champa's main port cities, are now World Heritage Sites. Today, many Cham people adhere to Islam, a conversion which began in the 10th century, with the Royals having fully adopted the faith by the 17th century; they are called Bani Cham (from Arabic: Bani). There are, however, Balamon Cham (from Sanskrit: Brahman) who still retain and preserve their Hindu faith, rituals, and festivals. The Balamon Cham are one of only two surviving non-Indic indigenous Hindu peoples in the world, with a culture dating back thousands of years. The other is the Balinese Hinduism of the Balinese of Indonesia.[2]

Through the centuries, Cham culture and society were influenced by forces emanating from Cambodia, China, Java and India amongst others. Lin Yi, a predecessor state in the region, began its existence in AD 192 as a breakaway Chinese colony. An official successfully revolted against Chinese rule in central Vietnam, and Lin Yi was founded in AD 192.[3] In the 4th century AD, wars with the neighbouring Kingdom of Funan in Cambodia and the acquisition of Funanese territory led to the infusion of Indian culture into Cham society. Sanskrit was adopted as a scholarly language, and Hinduism, especially Shaivism, became the state religion.

From the 10th century AD onwards, Arab maritime trade in the region brought increasing Islamic cultural and religious influences. Champa came to serve as an important link in the spice trade, which stretched from the Persian Gulf to South China, and later in the Arab maritime routes in Mainland Southeast Asia as a supplier of aloe. Despite the frequent wars between Champa and Cambodia, the two countries also traded and cultural influences moved in both directions. Royal families of the two countries intermarried frequently. Champa also had close trade and cultural relations with the powerful maritime empire of Srivijaya and later with the Majapahit of the Malay Archipelago.

Evidence gathered from linguistic studies around Aceh confirms that a very strong Champan cultural influence existed in Indonesia; this is indicated by the use of the Chamic language Acehnese as the main language in the coastal regions of Aceh. Linguists believe the Acehnese language, a descendant of the Proto-Chamic language, separated from the Chamicic tongue sometime in the 1st millennium AD. However, scholarly views on the precise nature of Aceh-Chamic relations vary.[4]

Formation and growth:

The people of Champa descended from seafaring settlers who reached the Southeast Asian mainland from Borneo about the time of the Sa Huỳnh culture, the predecessor of the Cham kingdom.[5] The Cham language is part of the Austronesian family. According to one study, Cham is related most closely to modern Acehnese in northern Sumatra.[6]

To the Han Chinese, the country of Champa was known as 林邑 Linyi[7] in Mandarin and Lam Yap in Cantonese and to the Vietnamese, Lâm Ấp (which is the Sino-Vietnamese pronunciation of 林邑). It was founded in AD 192.[8][9]

Around the 4th century AD, Champan polities began to absorb much of Indic influences, probably through its neighbour, Funan. Hinduism was established as Champa began to create Sanskrit stone inscriptions and erect red brick Hindu temples. The first king acknowledged in the inscriptions is Bhadravarman,[10][11] who reigned from AD 380 to AD 413. At Mỹ Sơn, King Bhadravarman established a linga called Bhadresvara,[12] whose name was a combination of the king's own name and that of the Hindu god of gods Shiva.[13] The worship of the original god-king under the name Bhadresvara and other names continued through the centuries that followed.[14]

Rudravarman of Champa founded a new dynasty in 529 CE and was succeeded by his son Shambhuvarman. Shambhuvarman reconstructed the temple of Bhadravarman and renamed it to Shambhu-bhadreshvara. He died in 629 and was succeeded by his son Kandarpadharma who died in 630-31. Kandarpadharma was succeeded by his son Prabhasadharma who died in 645.[15]

Between the 7th to 10th centuries AD, the Cham polities rose to become a naval power; as Champan ports attracted local and foreign traders, Champan fleets also controlled the trade in spices and silk in the South China Sea, between China, the Indonesian archipelago and India. They supplemented their income from the trade routes not only by exporting ivory and aloe, but also by engaging in piracy and raiding.[16] However, the rising influence of Champa caught the attention of a neighbouring thalassocracy that considered Champa as a rival, the Javanese (Javaka, probably refers to Srivijaya ruler of Sumatra and Java). In AD 767, the Tonkin coast was raided by a Javanese fleet (Daba) and Kunlun pirates,[17][18] Champa was subsequently assaulted by Javanese or Kunlun vessels in AD 774 and AD 787.[19]In AD 774 an assault was launched on Po-Nagar in Nha-trang where the pirates demolished temples, while in AD 787 an assault was launched on Phang-rang.[20]


In the Cham–Vietnamese War (AD 1471), Champa suffered serious defeats at the hands of the Vietnamese, in which 120,000 people were either captured or killed, and the kingdom was reduced to a small enclave near Nha Trang with many Chams fleeing to Cambodia.

The Chams of modern Vietnam and Cambodia are the remnants of this former kingdom. They speak Chamic languages, a subfamily of Malayo-Polynesian closely related to the Malayic and Bali–Sasak languages.

Places of interest

Between the 2nd and the 15th centuries AD, Champa at times included the modern provinces of Quảng Nam, Quảng Ngãi, Bình Định, Phú Yên, Khánh Hòa, Ninh Thuận, and Bình Thuận. Though Cham territory included the mountainous zones west of the coastal plain and (at times) extended into present-day Laos, for the most part, the Cham remained a seafaring people dedicated to trade, and maintained few settlements of any size away from the coast.

Historical Champa consisted of up to five principalities:

  • Indrapura ("City of Indra") was the capital of Champa from about AD 875 to about AD 1000. It was located at the site of the modern village of Dong Duong, near the modern city of Da Nang. Also found in the region of Da Nang is the ancient Cham city of Singhapura ("City of the Lion"), the location of which has been identified with an archaeological site in the modern village of Trà Kiệu, and the valley of Mỹ Sơn,[21] where a number of ruined temples and towers can still be seen. The associated port was at modern Hội An. The territory once controlled by this principality included present-day Quảng Bình, Quảng Trị, and Thừa Thiên–Huế provinces.
  • Vijaya was located in present-day Bình Định Province. Early mention is made of Vijaya in an AD 1160 inscription at Po Nagar.[23] The capital has been identified with the archaeological site at Cha Ban. The associated port was at present-day Qui Nhơn. Important excavations have also been conducted at nearby Thap Mam, which may have been a religious and cultural centre. Vijaya became the political and cultural centre of Champa around AD 1000, when the northern capital of Indrapura was abandoned due to pressure from the Viet. It remained the centre of Champa until AD 1471, when it was sacked by the Viet and the centre of Champa was again displaced toward the south. In its time, the principality of Vijaya controlled much of present-day Quang-Nam, Quang-Ngai, Bình Định, and Phú Yên Provinces.
  • Kauthara was located in the area of modern Nha Trang in Khánh Hòa Province. Its religious and cultural centre was the temple of Po Nagar, several towers of which still stand at Nha Trang. Kauthara is first mentioned in a AD 784 inscription at Po Nagar[24]
  • Panduranga was located in the area of present-day Phan Rang in Ninh Thuận Province. Panduranga was the last of the Cham territories to be annexed by the Vietnamese. Panduranga is first mentioned in an AD 817 inscription at Po Nagar.[25]

Within the four principalities were two main clans: the "Dua" and the "Cau". The Dua lived in Amravati and Vijaya, while the Cau lived in Kauthara and Panduranga. The two clans differed in their customs and habits and conflicting interests led to many clashes and even war. But they usually managed to settle disagreements through intermarriage.[26]



Champanagara (चम्पानगर) = Champapura (चम्पापुर) = Champa चम्पा (1) (AS, p.322) - चंपापुर (हिंद-चीन): प्राचीन भारतीय उपनिवेश चंपा में वर्तमान अनाम का अधिकांश भाग सम्मिलित था. अनाम (Annam) के उत्तरी जिले 'थान-हो-आ' (Than Hoa), 'नगे आन' (Nghe An) और 'हातिन्ह' (Ha Tinh) केवल इसके बाहर थे. इस प्रकार चंपापुरी का विस्तार 14 डिग्री से 10 डिग्री उत्तरी देशांतर के बीच में था. दूसरी शती ई. में यहां पहली बार भारतीयों ने अपनी औपनिवेशिक बस्ती बनाई थी. यह लोग संभवतः भारत की चंपानगरी के निवासी थे. 15वीं शती तक यहां के निवासी पूर्ण रूप से भारतीय संस्कृति एवं सभ्यता के प्रभाव में थे. इस शती अनामियों ने चंपा को जीतकर वहां अपना राज्य स्थापित कर लिया और भारतीय उपनिवेश की प्राचीन परंपरा को समाप्त कर दिया. चंपा का सर्वप्रथम भारतीय राजा श्रीमान था जिसका चीन के इतिहास में भी उल्लेख मिलता है. चंपापुरी के वर्तमान अवशेषों में यहां के प्राचीन भारतीय धर्म तथा संस्कृति की सुंदर झलक मिलती है.[27]

See also


  1. Parker, Vrndavan Brannon. "Vietnam's Champa Kingdom Marches on". Hinduism Today.
  2. Parker, Vrndavan Brannon. "Vietnam's Champa Kingdom Marches on". Hinduism Today.
  3. Stacy Taus-Bolstad (2003). Vietnam in Pictures. Twenty-First Century Books. p. 20. ISBN 0-8225-4678-7.
  4. Paul Sidwell. "Acehnese and the Aceh-Chamic Language Family". Academia.
  5. Higham, C., 2014, Early Mainland Southeast Asia, Bangkok: River Books Co., Ltd., ISBN 9786167339443,p:317
  6. Thurgood, Graham (1999). From Ancient Cham to Modern Dialects. ISBN 9780824821319.
  7. "Champa - ancient kingdom, Indochina".
  8. Stacy Taus-Bolstad (1 January 2003). Vietnam in Pictures. Twenty-First Century Books. pp. 20–. ISBN 978-0-8225-4678-8.
  9. Haywood, John; Jotischky, Andrew; McGlynn, Sean (1998). Historical Atlas of the Medieval World, AD 600-1492. Barnes & Noble. p. 3.31. ISBN 978-0-7607-1976-3.
  10. "Britannica Academic".
  12. Higham, C., 2014, Early Mainland Southeast Asia, Bangkok: River Books Co., Ltd., ISBN 9786167339443,p:324
  13. Ngô Vǎn Doanh, Champa, p.31.
  14. Ngô Vǎn Doanh, Champa, p.38-39; Ngô Vǎn Doanh, Mỹ Sơn Relics, p.55ff.
  15. Cœdès, George (1966), The Making of South East Asia, University of California Press, ISBN 0-520-05061-4, p. 77-78.
  16. Lê Thành Khôi, Histoire du Vietnam, p.109.
  17. SEAMEO Project in Archaeology and Fine Arts (1984). Final report: Consultative Workshop on Research on Maritime Shipping and Trade Networks in Southeast Asia, I-W7, Cisarua, West Java, Indonesia, November 20-27, 1984. SPAFA Co-ordinating Unit. p. 66.
  18. David L. Snellgrove (2001). Khmer Civilization and Angkor. Orchid Press. ISBN 978-974-8304-95-3.
  19. Greater India Society (1934). Journal. p. 69.
  20. Charles Alfred Fisher (1964). South-east Asia: a social, economic, and political geography. Methuen. p. 108.
  21. "KINGDOM OF CHAMPA". Archived from the original on 3 May 2012.
  22. Higham, C., 2014, Early Mainland Southeast Asia, Bangkok: River Books Co., Ltd., ISBN 9786167339443,p:211–318
  23. Higham, C., 2014, Early Mainland Southeast Asia, Bangkok: River Books Co., Ltd., ISBN 9786167339443,p:318
  24. .Higham, C., 2014, Early Mainland Southeast Asia, Bangkok: River Books Co., Ltd., ISBN 9786167339443,p:318
  25. Higham, C., 2014, Early Mainland Southeast Asia, Bangkok: River Books Co., Ltd., ISBN 9786167339443,p:318
  26. Rutherford, Insight Guide — Vietnam, pg. 256.
  27. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.322