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Culture

Sources of foreign cultural influence

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. 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.

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. The Cham language is part of the Austronesian family. According to one study, Cham is related most closely to modern Acehnese in northern Sumatra.

To the Han Chinese, the country of Champa was known as 林邑 Linyi 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.

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, who reigned from AD 380 to AD 413. At Mỹ Sơn, King Bhadravarman established a linga called Bhadresvara, whose name was a combination of the king's own name and that of the Hindu god of gods Shiva. The worship of the original god-king under the name Bhadresvara and other names continued through the centuries that followed.

Rudravarman of Champa founded a new dynasty in 529 CE and was succeeded by his son Shambuvarman. 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.

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. 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, Champa was subsequently assaulted by Javanese or Kunlun vessels in AD 774 and AD 787. 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.

Decline

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.

 
  • Emperor Minh Mạng who annexed Kingdom of Champa to Kingdom of Vietnam in 1832.
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