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Champa - 100-1471

Cochin China was once the seat of a kingdom called Champa, which appears to have had a hinduizcd Malay civilization, and to have been subsequently absorbed by Annam. Champa was a kingdom at one time of great power and importance in Indo-China, occupying the extreme S.E. of that region. By the end of the 19th Century a limited portion of its soil was still known by that name, but otherwise as the Binh-Thuan province of Cochin China. The people inhabiting this portion, Chams or Tsiams, are traditionally said to have occupied the whole breadth of that peninsula to the Gulf of Siam, before the arrival of the Khmer or Cambodian people.

It is not clear whether the people in question took their name from Champa, or Champa from the people ; but in any case the form of Champa is Sanskrit, and probably it was adopted from India like Kamboja itself and so many other Indo-Chinese names. The original Champa was a city and kingdom on the Ganges, near the modern Bhagalpur.

Champa is a name which has been for a very long time applied to a portion of that region to which we give the name of Cochin-China, though the extent covered by the name has varied. It is from the Malays that western navigators adapted most of the geographical nomenclature of the Eastern Seas. Some sources imply that the Malays gave the name of Champa to the whole of the most salient part of the Cambojan Peninsula, including a part of the coast of the Gulf of Siam, as well as part of the China Sea. It is possible that these writers have made a slip. But in any case the most ancient use of the name would seem to extend it to the Gulf of Siam. For there is strong reason to believe that both the Zaba of Ptolemy, and the Canf or Tsanf of the early Arab mariners, both of which arc demonstrably to be placed westward of Cape Camboja, are only representative of the same name, Champa.

It is a persistent tradition in modern Camboja that the Cham or Tsiam race, the proper people of Champa, did occupy the Cambojan soil before the arrival of the Khmers, who have held it, probably, at least since the fourth or fifth century of the Christian era; and M. Gamier, who gave gieat attention to these questions, has deduced from such data as exist, in the Chinese annals and elsewhere, that the ancient kingdom which the Chinese describe, under the name of Funan, as extending over all the peninsula east of the Gulf of Siam, was a kingdom of the Cham race.

In Central Further India three kingdoms successively secured predominance: Champa, Cambodia, and Siam. Champa was the oldest of the three States. The earliest intelligible accounts display the Cham as a powerful people. At the time of its greatest prosperity, near the middle of the first century A.D., Champa was about the size of the modern Cambodia, though at different periods it also extended over Cochin China, Annam, and even to Southern Tongking. At the time of Ptolemy the civilization was Brahman, early Sanscrit inscriptions covering the period from the third to the eleventh century A.D. ; from that date inscriptions are written in Champa, a special dialect strongly influenced by Sanscrit elements. The religion of the country was, as everywhere in Further India, chiefly Siva worship (Lingam); scarce a trace of Buddhism is to be discovered during that period, and it was not until the downfall of the Champa kingdom that Buddhism became more deeply rooted in the district.

Wars with the Chinese, who were extending their supremacy over Tongking, Annam, and Cochin-China, and drove out the Cham from those districts, occupy the period from the fourth to the tenth centuries. The Champa were also forced to struggle with the Khmers, who had entered the country from the north according to the early traditions of Cambodia, and were settled in the northeast of the Champa kingdom in the days of Ptolemy. As early as the seventh century they pushed their way like a wedge between the Champa kingdom and the States of Annam and Cochin-China, which were subject to China.

They were in full possession of Brahman civilization; the earliest written records of the Khmer State of Cambodia are in Sanscrit and belong to the third century; in 626 (according to the Saka chronology 549) this inscription mentions a King Isinawannan, whose three predecessors, Eudrawarman, Bhawawarman, and Mahendrawarman can be inferred from the oldest Buddhist inscription but one of the year 667 (according to the Saka chronology 589); from the first of these kings the list of rulers is continued with but scanty interruption until the year 1108. A reliable eye-witness, the Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang visited the two States of Cambodia and Champa in the years 631-633 and mentions their towns Dewarawati, Chamapura, and Champapura. At this period Cambodia was a State of equal power to the earlier Champa kingdom.

However, even then a dangerous movement became perceptible upon the northern frontier. From the Chinese frontier mountains tribes of the Thai advanced southward to the borders of Cambodia. A branch of these immigrants, the Lao, settled upon the eighteenth degree of latitude in 547 and founded a State with the capital of Labong; at a later period other smaller kingdoms of the Thai were formed. At the outset of the seventh century the Lao (in Chinese annals Al-Lao) made a vigorous advance upon Cambodia. There, however, their power was broken.

Legend conjoins the defeat of the Thai with the name of the King Phra Euang; the chronology dates from his government, the first year of which, 638 A. D., still forms a chronological starting-point throughout the whole of central Further India. The defeated enemy were absorbed into the local civilization and adopted the writing and the laws of Cambodia. However, their youthful strength could not thus be permanently constrained; in the year 959 A. D. the Thai freed themselves, as is unanimously related by the early records of Cambodia and Siam. Driven on, perhaps, by the movement of the Tatar Khitan, who had invaded China in 937 they pressed on under their king, also known as Phra Euang, to the south and founded an independent kingdom at the expense of the Khmer State; this was the nucleus from which was formed the principality of Xieng-Mai about 1250, and the more modern Siam at a somewhat later date.

In the medieval narratives of western authors (e.g., Marco Polo, Friar Odoric, John Marignolli, Rashiduddin) the name Champa applies to that region which is now sometimes called Cochin-China Proper, as distinguished from Tongking, viz., the protuberant S.E. coast of the peninsula in question, extending northward to 16 or 17 of latitude, the position of which on the route to China caused its shores to be well-known to those voyaging to that country. This, or nearly this, was the kingdom called in the oldest Chinese annals Lin-i, and afterwards, till its extinction, Chenching.

Chenching or Champa were often at war with its neighbors, Tongking on the one side, and Chinla or Camboja on the other, and as for a time, at the end of the twelfth century, completely conquered by the latter. But it had recovered independence a century later, for Kublai Khan (1280-1290) had dealings in war and diplomacy with its king.

Kublai Khan's foreign expeditions, which were almost all disastrous. Nearly all arose out of a hankering for the nominal extension of his empire by claiming submission and tribute. Expeditions against Japan were several times repeated; the last, in 1281, on an immense scale, met with huge discomfiture. Kublai's preparations to avenge it were abandoned owing to the intense discontent which they created. In 1278 he made a claim of submission upon Champa, an ancient state representing what we now call Cochin China, This eventually led to an attempt to invade the country through Tongking, and to a war with the latter state, in which the Mongols had much the worst of it.

According to Javanese annals, about the middle of the fifteenth century the queen of the principal sovereign of Java was a princess of Champa. But this southern kingdom of Chenching or Champa was conquered in 1471 by the King of Tongking or Anam, and was never since revived.

Latter Champa

The precise historical relation of this ancient kingdom to the modern kingdom, which is called CochinChina, is a little difficult to disentangle. The kingdom of Champa was conquered in 1471 by the King of Tongking or Anam. For though there was for a long time, subsequent to the date named, and down to 1802, a separation of Tongking and Southern Cochin-China into two distinct kingdoms, the latter was not a revival of Champa, both being ruled by dynasties of Anamite origin.

After the conquest the name of Champa seems to have become restricted to the districts adjoining the south-eastern curve of the coast, and eventually to that district immediately eastward of the Cambojan delta, a somewhat barren tract with fine natural harbors, called by the Cochin-Chinese Binh-Thuan. This continued to be occupied by the people called Chams or Tsiams, whose dominion is thus presumed (as far as light cane be seen in these obscure histories) to have first extended over the whole peninsula (as Funan); then to have been limited to its eastern and south-eastern shores (Chenching); and lastly to have been restricted to a small tract of those shores (modern Champa or Binh-Thuan).

Here a principality of Champa long continued to subsist, the residence of the prince being at a place called Phanri, about 10 miles from the sea, and apparently near, if not identical with, the present BinhThuan. The Champas, his subjects, were, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, well known over the Archipelago as rovsrs and sea-faring people. This principality was often overrun by the Cochin Chinese, but maintained itself in some shape of recalcitrant subjection to the latter till about 1820, when the Anamite King conquered it effectually, expelling the Champa prince and most of the people of the same race.

The name Champa is Indian, like the adjoining Camboja and countless other names in Indo-China; and was probably borrowed from that of an ancient Hindu state and city which stood upon the Ganges, near modern Bhagalpur. Hwen-Thsang, the famous Chinese ecclesiastical traveller of the seventh century, makes mention both of the original Gangetic State (which he visited), and of the Indo-Chinese kingdom (which he knew only by hearsay), calling the latter At aha- (or "Great") Champa ; an indication, perhaps, of its ample dominion, either then subsisting or traditional, an amplitude of dominion which nearly all states of Indo China have enjoyed in turn. Hindu titles are also distinctly traceable in the corruptions of the old Chinese notices of the names of kings, and even in one mentioned by Marco Polo.

The people are known in Camboja as Tsiams, to the Anamites as Lot, Thuan, and Thieng. It is not known whether the former name has been taken from Champa, or the adoption of the Indian name Champa been suggested by the name of the people. They have been in great part driven into the mountains, or into the Cambojan and Siamese territory, where a number of them are settled near the Great Lake. There were also old settlements of them on the Cambojan coast. The people were said to exhibit, even in language, strong Malay affinities, and they have long professed Muhammadanism. The books of their former religion, they say, came from Ceylon, but they were converted to Islam. The statement in italics is interesting. For the Tongking people received their Buddhism, such as it is, from China ; and this tradition marks Champa as the extreme flood-mark of that great tide of Buddhist missions and revival which went forth from Ceylon to the Indo-Chinese regions, and which is generally connected with the name of Buddaghosha.

By the later part of the 18th Century, the kingdom of Champa, was in length from southwest to north-east about fourteen English miles, and in breadth about seventy, between Cambodia and Kochin-China. The natives were called Loys, and were a very different people from the Cochin-Chinese, to whom their king was tributary. Their forces consisted in sorrie gallies, each having on board forty or fifty men, and mounting two small guns. Their arms were muskets, pikes, sabres, and sagays, which they handled very dexterously. There was among them a tribe, called Moys, who inhabited the mountains, and were employed by them in all sorts of drudgery as slaves.

A piece of cloth to cover their nakedness was all their dress. A remarkable subordination prevailed among the Loys, from the king, the mandarins, and the placemen, to the commonalty. All religions were tolerated, and freely exercised in Champa; but those most prevailing were the Mohammedan and doctrine of Confucius. Nor was idolatry without its votaries also ; some adored animals, others the sun, moon, and stars, or the heavens. One thing extraordinary found here is, that the Mohammedans of this country eat swine's flesh, and offer their wives to strangers, excepting their legal one, whom they cannot divorce, without convicting her of incontinence.

The state of Champa within land was very little known to Europeans. The south part of the country was said to produce a little cotton, some indigo, and bad silk. Ships came from China every year, loaded with tea, ordinary silk, china'ware, and provisions, for which they took in exchange gold, which was finer than that of China, and a certain sweet scented wood, which grows on this coast, in order to burn on the tombs of their parents, and in honor of their images.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 13:35:37 ZULU