The term Cochin China originally appears to have referred, not to a specific location, but to the entire area between India and China, that is, Indo-China. "Indochina" as a name was proposed for the region in the early 19th century by Scottish poet and orientalist John Leyden, because it lay between India and China -- and perhaps because it had in its early history been dominated by those superpowers.
Cochin-China, i.e. the Western-China, so called by the Portuguese, to distinguish it from the kingdom of Cochin on the Malabar coast, was situated under the torrid zone, and extended, according to some authors, from the 12th to the 18th degree, but, according to others, from the 8th to the 17th degree of north latitude, or about five hundred miles in length; but is much less extensive in its breadth from east to west. It was bounded by Tonquin on the north by the small kingdom of Champa, or Chiampa, on the south ; by the Chinese Ocean on the east ; and on the west by the kingdoms of Laos and Cambodia, of which both were tributary to it at the end of the 18th Century, as well as that of Champa, and some others.
The inundations which happen regularly every year here, as in Siam, and other neighbouring kingdoms, towards the middle of autumn, and continue two whole months, render the land exceedingly fertile, especially in rice, by the great quantity of mud they leave behind. There is no country under the torrid zone, wherein the four seasons are better distinguished. Though the rivers are not considerable, they are the sources of its plenty. During the months of September, October, and November, they rise every fortnight, overflow all the fields for three days, and render them so sertile by their slime, that they can sow and reap twice a-year. The soil produces not only great quantities of rice, but several sorts of fruits and herbs, pepper, cinnamon, benjoin, silk, cotton, aloes, eagle wood, and others of the fame rare and odoriserous nature, besides a tree which they stile the incorruptible, it not being liable to rot or corrupt under water ; and anqther that produces chesnuts, larger than those from Spain, by sackfuls, some of the bunches, containing no less than five hundred chesnuts.
In the mountains are also found quarries of several sorts of marble, with mines of gold, silver, and iron,. The natives had learned the art of fusing and applying the last to a variety of uses, from the Chinese ; but were still ignorant of the art of casting It, especially into cannon, bombs, mortars, and other artillery. Among the rare animals, are rhinoceroses and elephants, of an extraordinary size, ptnd surprising docility. The feet of the male elephants here were said to be full half a yard in diameter, and their teeth between four and five yards in length.
The Cochin-Chinese, lying under the same parallel as the Siamese, were of much the same stature and complexion ; their habits, however, were somewhat different. The inhabitants of Cochin-China wore a long gown, which is bound about (hem with a fash, arid the sexes are scarce distinguishable by their garb : the quality usually wear silk; but they never think themselves finer than in English broad cloth, either red or green, and had caps of the fame stuff with their gowns. Inferior people and soldiers generally wore cotton cloth, dyed of a dark colour, poor people went bare headed, except in the rainy seasons, when they wore stiff broad brimmed hats, made of reeds, or palm leaves. They sat cross-legged, after the manner of the Siamese, and other Asiatics, and had couches, or benches, covered with fine mat, round the rooms, where they entertain their friends. The people were excellent mechanics, and very fair dealers, not given to tricking and cheating like the Chinese.
Cochin-China / Kampuchea Krom
Up to the end of World War II, French Indo-China consisted of five separate countries - Tonkin, Annam, Cochin-China, Laos, and Cambodia. The former three were mostly inhabited by a population commonly described as "Annamite"(nowadays Vietnamese) whose cultural background is linked with that of China, and they were quite distinct from Cambodia whose people are of Hindu culture. Kampuchea Krom is also known as Lower Cambodia, Mekong Delta, or Cochin China. The Khmer populations of this beautiful landscape share the same race, religion, national language, culture, custom, tradition, and great history as the Khmers in Cambodia. Kampuchea Krom is slightly smaller in size than her motherland, Kingdom of Cambodia.
Cochin China, sometimes called Onam, was first discovered by Ptolemy, by whom it is barely noticed under the name of Sinme, and is placed by D'Anville at the eastern extremity of the ancient habitable world. It is a narrow strip of land, resembling a crescent in its form, and projecting into the China Sea, immediately south of China Proper.
In 1663 King Chey Chettha II gave his consent to the opening of the Saigon-Bienhoa-Baria area to Annamite immigration. The Annamite prince Nguyen Sai Vuong requested the right for his people to till the land and to engage in trade subject to the payment of taxes. King Chey Chettha agreed. He had married princes, a daughter of Ngyen Sai Vuong, and according to a tradition of the Khmer dynasty the Queen Dowager and the Viceroy were endowed with some provinces of the Empire as a personal lifetime appanage. The provinces were never excluded from the Crown possessions, but the Titular enjoyed certain rights in respect of the administration of the territory under his rule (taxation, police, etc.).
In 1774 Long-niang had scarcely set foot in his capital, Hue, before he took occasion to quarrel with the king of Tonquin, who was a tributary vassal to the emperor of China. The king, abandoning his army after the first engagement, fled to Pekin, to demand the assistance of the emperor Kien-Long*, who ordered an army of one hundred thousand men to march against the Cochin Chinese. Longniang, by means of his spies, was fully apprised of the movements of this immense army. He sent out detachments to destroy the villages, and lay waste the country through which it had to pass; and the Chinese army, before it had even reached the frontier of Tonquin, was distressed for want of provisions, and obliged to fall back. The consequence of which was a treaty, and Longniang was recognised as king of Tonquin and Cochin China, which were, in future, to be considered as tributary to the emperor of China.
Europe knew little or nothing of this country till the middle of the 18th century, when it was visited by M. Le Poivre in a diplomatic character. M. Le Poivre represented the Cochin Chinese as gentle, frugal, hospitable, and industrious. There was not a beggar in the country, and robbery and murder were absolutely unknown. A stranger may wander through the kingdom from one end to the other, the capital excepted, without meeting the slightest insult. He will be received everywhere with the most eager curiosity, but at the same time, with the greatest benevolence.
In 1793, Cochin China was visited by Lord Macartney and his suite, but the English squadron merely touched at Turoii, one of its northern ports, and Mr Jackson, the sailing master of the Lion, on penetrating a little way into this hospitable country, was seized by the officers of government, and very roughly handled both by them and by the populace.
Cochin-China was a country forming part of the peninsula of southeastern Asia, and by the early 20th Century generally regarded as comprising the whole of Anam and Lower or French Cochin-China. Three of the six provinces into which the latter was divided were acquired at one period, and the remaining three at another period. A persecution of the French Roman Catholic missionaries in Anam furnished the French with an occasion of regaining a footing in the East. An expedition against Cochin-China was decided on in 1857, and Saigon was occupied.
In 1853, King Ang Duong alarmed by Annamite expansion and by a possible alliance of Siam and Annam for the sharing of Cambodia, secretly sent to the French Consul in Singapore a letter addressed to Emperor Napolean III in which he requested from France a certain measure of protection. The letter was not acknowledged, and the King decided to write another letter to propose the conclusion of a Franco-Cambodia alliance and to appeal to the French Emperor not accept certain territories mentioned in the letter, should the Annamites offer them to France, as such territories belonged to Cambodia.
When the odds became unequal in 1854, the reigning Khmer ruler, King Ang Duong, found it necessary to appeal to a Power of the Western world, namely France, for assistance in the defending his threatened territories. As it turned out however, his hopes were frustrated as subsequent events assumed an even more disastrous turn. Owing to Cambodia's political decline which was brought about by the establishment of the French Protectorate, not only those threatened territories for the protection of which had sought France's intervention, but also other provinces under Cambodian administration were severed from the Kingdom to constitute a French colony under the name of Cochin-China.
In the nineteenth century, France for various reasons was bent on a policy of expansion, and taking advantage of the attitude of friendship and confidence adopted by the Cambodian Sovereign, chose to intervene in Cochin-China. When Saigon was besieged in 1859, Cambodian troops supported the French forces by entering simultaneously the provinces of Meat Chrouk(Chaudoc), Kramuon Sar(Rachgia), Srok Treang (Soctrang), and Preah Trapeang (Travinh).
Under the treaty of peace and friendship concluded with France in Saigon on 5th June, 1862, Annam accepted - in addition to clauses relating to freedom of worship in the Roman Catholic faith in her territory, the undertaking not surrender any part of her territory to anyone without consulting France, the opening of certain ports to Franco-Spanish trade, and the payment of war compensation - a clause of particular interest for Cambodian under which Annam transferred to France three Cambodia provinces occupied by Annamites - Bienhoa, Giadinh, and Mytho.
The Austro-Italian War deferred further operations till 1861, when the conquest of Metho gave the French possession of the most fertile district of Lower Cochin-China. The war continued till 5 June 1862, when a peace was concluded at Saigon with the king of Anam, which was ratified at Hue 15 April 1863. By this treaty the king agreed to cede to the French the three provinces of Bienhoa, Saigon and Metho, along with the island of Pulo Condore, to tolerate the Roman Catholic religion, to open three of the ports in Tonquin to French ships, and to pay an indemnity of 24,000,000 francs (about $4,800,000).
Although the inhabitants were found to be on the whole sufficiently tractable, yet a few revolts took place, whereupon Admiral De la Grandiere, on the pretext that all these disturbances had their origin in the provinces of Lower Cochin-China which had remained to Anam, namely, Vinhlong, Chaudoc and Hatien, took possession of these provinces, and declared them French territory, 25 June 1867. The territory thus acquired by France in this peninsula covered 21,980 square miles, and in 1915 had a population of 3,050,785. It was now organized in departments, prefectures, sub-prefectures and cantons. In 1882-83 France asserted a claim to the protection of Tonquin, and indeed the entire Anam territory, and after some fighting this claim was conceded by the king. Tonquin was accordingly taken possession of by France in 1884. Anam formed a protectorate. In 1888 it became part of the governor-generalship of Indo-China, was under the administration of a lieutenant-governor, and was represented by a deputy in the French chamber. Anamese troops served under French leadership in the Allied campaign in the Balkans in 1916.
Kampuchea Krom or Cochin China became part of French Indochina on October 17, 1887. Even though the Khmer people in Kampuchea Krom (South Vietnam) living under the power of colonial Vietnam in the past several hundreds of years and Kampuchea Krom had been colonized by France, then transferred this land to the authorities of [another] colonial Vietnam to continue colonizing [the land and the Khmers] until today, the Khmer people living there had not and have not surrendered their Khmer nationality, citizenship and identity in betrayal of their ancestors. In the past those territories were part of the Kingdom of Cambodia, and they are still inhabited by over half a million Khmers who remain deeply attached to their culture, religion, customs, traditions and ancestral land.
Besides the Vietnamese, there are Cham and Chinese living in Kampuchea Krom. The Khmer Krom are out numbered by their "invaders" and "rulers", who once asked the Khmer Krom for asylum or migration only. About seventy percent of the Vietnamese and ninety-five percent of the Chinese live in the cities and fill most of important jobs in government and business. The Khmer Krom, live through out the country, especially, in the Mekong delta.
The northern and eastern parts of French Cochin-China are hilly, but the rest of the territory consists almost entirely of well-watered low alluvial land, and from the deposits brought down by the rivers, of extraordinary fertility. The lowlands, where the waters stagnate, are covered with a rank vegetation from 3 to 10 feet high; contiguous to the flowing streams are extensive rice-grounds. Where the soil is somewhat raised above the water-level it is very fertile, and in some places ranges of low hills follow the line of the rivers. In the more elevated districts are grown tobacco, sugarcane, maize, indigo and betel. Among the other products were tea, gums, cocoanut oil, silk, spices and various farinaceous and aromatic articles. The Anamites raise also great numbers of buffaloes, cattle, hogs and birds, the first being employed in agriculture, and, as well as oxen, for draft purposes; but since the French conquest, oxen were reserved more strictly for food.
Industrial arts were limited among the natives by the early 20th Century. They were skilful in all kinds of basket-work, in which they use thed reeds and other similar materials which abound in the low lands; silk and cotton are also wrought. But they excel in the use of wood, of which their temples, pagodas and tombs are built, and ornamented with elaborate carving. They live in villages - numbering nearly 1,000 - adjacent to the rivers, which, in the unsuitableness of the country for land traffic, form almost the only means of communication. Their houses were either tiled or thatched with straw, the roofs being supported with wooden pillars; the better class were in two sections, the inner apartments and the outer veranda, which served for use in the daytime; they were often well furnished, _ and not devoid of comfort.
The only roads were those connecting Saigon, the capital (pop. 1915, 100,000, with 11,250 white) with the principal towns. The most populous city was Cholon, with 191,655 inhabitants. There were 2,670 miles of telegraph in operation. The climate is humid and warm, and very trying for Europeans. The prevailing religion is Buddhism. There are some 600 schools in the territories. The principal export is rice, of which there is annually exported about 7,000,000 hundredweight, mainly to China; cotton and silk are also exported.
Upper Cochin-China, or Dong-trong, a narrow strip of land, consisting of four provinces, on the east coast of Anam, to which empire it belonged, extending from Tonquin on the north to Champa on the south. The most important river is that on which the chief town, P'hu-thua-thien or Hue, stands. In the most fruitful parts of this region aloes wood (of the Aquilaria ovata), corn, sugarcane and cinnamon flourish. From October to January the weather is often very stormy, and typhoons rage frequently. The climate is healthy and pleasant. Camphor is produced in the district in the utmost perfection.
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