To the Chinese, the country of Champa was known as Linyi and to the Vietnamese, Lâm Ap. It had been founded in 192 A.D. in the region of modern Hu? by Khu Lien, a local leader rebelling against the Han Dynasty. Over the next several centuries, Han forces made repeated unsuccessful attempts to retake the region.
From its neighbor Funan to the west, Lâm Ap soon received the gift of Indian civilization. Scholars locate the historical beginnings of Champa in the 4th century A.D., when the process of Indianization was well underway. It was in this period that the Cham people began to create stone inscriptions in both Sanskrit and in their own language, for which they created a unique script.
The Book of Jin has some records about Lam Ap during the 3rd to 5th centuries. Fan Wen became the king in 336 CE. He attacked and annexed Daqijie, Xiaoqijie, Ship, Xulang, Qudu, Ganlu, and Fudan. Fan Wen sent a message and paid tribute to the Chinese Emperor, and the message was "written in barbarian characters". Lam Ap sometimes maintained the tributary status and sometimes was hostile to the Jin dynasty, and the Commandery of Rinan (Chinese:Rinan, Vietnamese:Nhat Nam) was frequently under attack from Lam Ap.
The first king acknowledged in the inscriptions is Bhadravarman, who reigned from 380 to 413 A.D. At My Son, King Bhadravarman established a god named 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.
The capital of Lâm Ap at the time of Bhadravarman was the citadel of Simhapura ("Lion City", not to be confused with Singapore which shares similar pronunciation and etymology), which was located along two rivers and had a wall eight miles in circumference. A Chinese writer described the people of Lâm ?p as both warlike and musical, with "deep eyes, a high straight nose, and curly black hair."
According to Chinese records, Sambhuvarman (Fan Fan Tche) was crowned king of Lâm Ap in 529 A.D. Inscriptions credit him with rehabilitating the temple to Bhadresvara after a fire. Sambhuvarman also sent delegations and tribute to China, and unsuccessfully invaded what is now northern Vietnam. In 605 A.D., a general Liu Fang of the Sui dynasty invaded Lâm Ap, won a battle by luring the enemy war-elephants into an area booby-trapped with camouflaged pits, massacred the defeated troops, and captured the capital. In the 620s, the kings of Lâm Ap sent delegations to the court of the recently established Tang Dynasty and asked to become vassals of the Chinese court.
Chinese records report the death of the last king of Lâm Ap as falling in 756 A.D. Thereafter for a time, the Chinese referred to Champa as "Hoan Vuong" or "Huanwang". The earliest Chinese records using a name related to "Champa" are dated 877 A.D.; however, such names had been in use by the Cham themselves since at least 629 A.D., and by the Khmer since at least 657 A.D.
Champa at its peak
From the 7th to the 10th century A.D., the Cham controlled the trade in spices and silk between China, India, the Indonesian islands, and the Abbassid empire in Baghdad. They supplemented their income from the trade routes not only by exporting ivory and aloe, but also by engaging in piracy and raiding.
One of the risers on the short stairway leading up the My Son E1 Pedestal contains this image of a dancer.
By the second half of the 7th century A.D., royal temples were beginning to make their appearance at My Son. The dominant religious cult was that of the Hindu god Shiva, but temples were also dedicated to Vishnu. Scholars have called the architectural style of this period My Son E1, in reference to a particular edifice at My Son that is regarded as emblematic of the style. Important surviving works of art in this style include a pedestal for a linga that has come to be known as the My Son E1 Pedestal and a pediment depicting the birth of Brahma from a lotus issuing from the navel of the sleeping Vishnu.
In an important stone inscription dated 657 A.D. and found at My Son, King Prakasadharma, who took on the name Vikrantavarman I at his coronation, claimed to be descended through his mother from the Brahman Kaundinya and the serpent princess Soma, the legendary ancestors of the Khmer of Cambodia. This inscription thus underlines the ethnic and cultural connection of Champa with the Khmer Empire, its perennial rival to the west. It also commemorates the king's dedication of a monument, probably a linga, to Shiva. Another inscription documents the king's almost mystical devotion to Shiva, "who is the source of the supreme end of life, difficult to attain; whose true nature is beyond the domain of thought and speech, yet whose image, identical with the universe, is manifested by his forms."
In the 8th century, during the time when the Chinese knew the country as "Huanwang," the political center of Champa shifted cemporarily from My Son southward to the regions of Panduranga and Kauthara, centered around the temple complex of Po Nagar near modern Nha Trang that was dedicated to the indigenous Earth goddess Yan Po Nagar. In 774 A.D. raiders from Java disembarked in Kauthara, burned the temple of Po Nagar, and carried off the image of Shiva. The Cham king Satyavarman pursued the raiders and defeated them in a naval battle. In 781 A.D., Satyavarman erected a stele at Po Nagar, declaring that he had regained control of the area and had restored the temple. In 787 A.D., Javanese raiders destroyed a temple dedicated to Shiva near Panduranga.
This statue of a dvarapala (temple guardian) was stationed in an entry hallway or gopura of the Buddhist monastery at Indrapura. The guardian treads on a bull, who in turn disgorges a small warrior, who in turn raises his sword against the guardian.
In 875 A.D., King Indravarman II founded a new northern dynasty at Indrapura (Dong Duong near Da Nang in modern Vietnam). Eager to claim an ancient lineage, Indravarman declared himself the descendant of Bhrigu, the venerable sage whose exploits are detailed in the Mahabharata, and asserted that Indrapura had been founded by the same Bhrigu in ancient times. From 877 onward, the Chinese knew Champa as "Cheng-cheng," discontinuing their use of the term "Huan-wang."
Indravarman was the first Cham monarch to adopt Mahayana Buddhism as an official religion. At the center of Indrapura, he constructed a Buddhist monastery (vihara) dedicated to the bodhisattva Lokesvara. The foundation, regrettably, was devastated during the Vietnam War. Thankfully, some photographs and sketches survive from the prewar period. In addition, some stone sculptures from the monastery are preserved in Vietnamese museums. Scholars have called the artistic style typical of the Indrapura the Dong Duong Style. The style is characterized by its dynamism and ethnic realism in the depiction of the Cham people. Surviving masterpieces of the style include several tall sculptures of fierce dvarapalas or temple guardians that were once positioned around the monastery. The period in which Buddhism reigned as the principal religion of Champa came to an end in approximately 925, at which time the Dong Duong Style also began to give way to subsequent artistic styles linked with the restoration of Shaivism as the national religion.
Kings belonging to the dynasty of Indrapura built a number of temples at My Son in the 9th and 10th centuries A.D. Their temples at My Son came to define a new architectural and artistic style, called by scholars the My Son A1 Style, again in reference to a particular foundation at My Son regarded emblematic for the style. With the religious shift from Buddhism back to Shaivism around the beginning of the 10th century, the center of Cham religion also shifted from Dong Duong back to My Son.
Champa reached its peak in the civilization of Indrapura centered in the region of Dong Duong and My Son. Factors contributing to the decline of Champa over the next several centuries include its enviable position along the trade routes, its relatively small population base, and its frequently antagonistic relations with its closest neighbors: the Viet to the north and the Khmer to the west.
Interesting parallels may be observed between the history of northern Champa (Indrapura and Vijaya) and that of its neighbor and rival to the west, the Khmer civilization of Angkor, located just to the north of the great lake Tonle Sap in what is now Cambodia. The foundation of the Cham dynasty at Indrapura in 875 A.D. was followed just two years later by the foundation at Roluos in 877 of the Khmer empire by King Indravarman I, who united two previously independent regions of Cambodia. The parallels continued as the two peoples flourished from the 10th through the 12th centuries, then went into gradual decline, suffering their ultimate defeat in the 15th century. In 1238 A.D., the Khmer lost control of their western possessions around Sukhothai as the result of a Thai revolt. The successful revolt not only ushered in the era of Thai independence, but also foreshadowed the eventual abandonment of Angkor in 1431 A.D. following its sack by Thai invaders from the kingdom of Ayutthaya, which had absorbed Sukhothai in 1376. The decline of Champa was roughly contemporaneous with that of Angkor, and was precipitated by pressure from the Dai Viet of what is now northern Vietnam, culminating in the conquest and obliteration of Vijaya in 1471 A.D.
In 944 and 945 A.D., Khmer troops from Cambodia invaded the region of Kauthara. Around 950, the Khmer pillaged the temple of Po Nagar and carried off the statue of the goddess. In 960, the Cham King Jaya Indravaman I sent a delegation with tribute to the first king of the Chinese Song Dynasty, which had been established in Kaifeng around 960. In 965, the king restored the temple at Po Nagar and reconstructed the statue of the goddess to replace the one stolen by the Khmer.
In the latter half 10th century, the kings of Indrapura waged war against the Dai Viet of what is now northern Vietnam. The Viet had spent the better part of the century securing their independence from Chinese rule. Following the defeat of the Chinese fleet by Ngo Quyen in the Battle of Bach Dang in 938 A.D., the country had gone through a period of internal turmoil until its final reunification by the Dinh Dynasty in 968 under the name Dai Co Viet, and the establishment of a capital at Hoa Lu near modern Hanoi.
In 979 A.D., the Cham King Parameshvaravarman I (Phê Mi Thuê to the Viet) sent a fleet to attack Hoa Lu. The ill-fated expedition was however scuttled by a tempest. In 982, King Le Hoan of the Dai Viet sent three ambassadors to Indrapura. When the ambassadors were detained, Le Hoan decided to go on the offensive. Viet troops sacked Indrapura and killed King Phê Mi Thuê. They carried off Cham dancers and musicians who subsequently came to influence the development of the arts in Dai Viet. As a result of these setbacks, the Cham abandoned Indrapura around 1000 A.D. The center of Champa was relocated south to Vijaya in modern Binh Dinh.
Conflict between Champa and Dai Viet did not end, however, with the abandonment of Indrapura. Champa suffered further Viet attacks in 1021 and 1026 A.D. In 1044 A.D., a catastrophic battle resulted in the death of the Cham King Sa Dau and the sack of Vijaya by the Dai Viet under Lý Thái Tông. The invaders captured elephants and musicians and even the Cham queen Mi E, who preserved her honor by throwing herself into the waves as her captors attempted to transport her to their country. Champa began to pay tribute to the Viet kings, including a white rhino sent in 1065. In 1068 A.D., however, the King of Vijaya Rudravarman (Che Cu) attacked Dai Viet in order to reverse the setbacks of 1044. Again the Cham were defeated, and again the Dai Viet captured and burned Vijaya. These events were repeated in 1069, when the Viet general Ly Thuong Kiet took a fleet to Champa and occupied Vijaya. Rudravarman was taken into captivity, eventually purchasing his freedom in exchange for three northern districts of his realm. Taking advantage of the debacle, a leader in southern Champa rebelled and established an independent kingdom. The northern kings were not able to reunite the country until 1084.
In 1074 A.D., King Harivarman IV took the throne, restoring the temples at My Son and ushering in a period of relative prosperity. Harivarman made peace with the Dai Viet, but provoked war with the Khmer of Angkor. In 1080, a Khmer army attacked Vijaya and other centers in northern Champa. Temples and monasteries were sacked; cultural treasures were carried off. After much misery, Cham troops under King Harivarman were able to defeat the invaders and restored the capital and temples.
Around 1080 A.D., a new dynasty from the Korat Plateau in modern Thailand occupied the throne of Angkor in Cambodia. Soon enough, the kings of the new dynasty embarked on a program of empire-building. Rebuffed in their attempts to conquer Dai Viet in the 1130s, they turned their attention to Champa. In 1145 A.D., a Khmer army under King Suryavarman II, the founder of Angkor Wat, occupied Vijaya and destroyed the temples at My Son. The Khmer king then proceeded to attempt the conquest of all of northern Champa. In 1149 A.D., however, the ruler of the southern principality of Panduranga, King Jaya Harivarman, defeated the invaders and had himself consecrated king of kings in Vijaya. He spent the rest of his reign putting down rebellions in Amaravati and Panduranga.
This bas relief at the late 12th century Angkorian temple called the Bayon depicts Cham mariners in action against the Khmer.
In 1167 A.D., King Jaya Indravarman IV ascended to the throne in Champa. An inscription characterized him as brave, well-versed in weapons, and knowledgeable of philosophy, Mahayana theories and the Dharmasutra. After securing peace with the Dai Viet in 1170, Jaya Indravarman invaded Cambodia with inconclusive results. In 1177, however, his troops launched a surprise attack against the Khmer capital of Yasodharapura from warships piloted up the Mekong River to the great lake Tonle Sap in Cambodia. The invaders sacked the capital, killed the Khmer king, and made off with much booty.
The Khmer were rallied by a new king, Jayavarman VII, who drove the Cham from Cambodia in 1181 A.D. When Jaya Indravarman IV launched another attack against Cambodia in 1190, Jayavarman VII appointed a Cham prince named Vidyanandana to lead the Khmer army. Vidyanandana defeated the invaders and proceeded to occupy Vijaya and to capture Jaya Indravarman, whom he sent back to Angkor as a prisoner.
Following the conquest of Vijaya, the Khmer king installed his own brother-in-law, Prince In, as a puppet king in Champa. Civil war broke out, however, between several factions. In the end, Prince In prevailed, but declared his independence from Cambodia. Khmer troops attempted unsuccessfully to regain control over Champa throughout the 1190s. In 1203 A.D., finally, Jayavarman VII's generals took Vijaya, and Champa effectively became a province of Angkor, not to regain its independence until 1220. Thereafter, Vijaya went into a period of gradual decline that lasted for more than two centuries. This period ended in a total defeat at the hands of the Dai Viet, and was briefly interrupted by a period of astounding military success under the warrior king Che Bong Nga.
In 1283 A.D., Mongol troops of the Yuan Dynasty under General Sogetu (Sodu) invaded Champa and occupied Vijaya. In the 1270s, Kublai Khan had established his capital and dynasty at Beijing and had toppled the southern Chinese Song Dynasty. By 1280, he would turn his attention to the Cham and Viet kingdoms located in the territory of modern Vietnam. A series of Mongol assaults on Dai Viet were, however, unsuccessful, resulting in severe setbacks such as the Battle of Bach Dang. Similarly, the invasion of Champa had little lasting effect. Rather than engage the invaders directly, the Cham king and his troops retreated from the coast to the mountains and fought as guerrillas. Two years later, the Mongols left of their own accord. Sogetu was soon killed in another botched invasion of Dai Viet. However, the Champa accepted the Mongol suzerainty 3 years later.
In 1307 A.D., the Cham King Jaya Simhavarman III (Che Man), the founder of the still extant temple of Po Klaung Garai in Panduranga, ceded two northern districts to the Dai Viet in exchange for the hand in marriage of a Viet princess. Not long after the nuptials, the king died, and the princess returned to her northern home in order to avoid a Cham custom that would have required her to join her husband in death. However, the lands that Che Man had rashly ceded were not returned. In order to regain these lands, and encouraged by the decline of Dai Viet in the course of the 14th century, the troops of Champa began to make regular incursions into the territory of their neighbor to the north.
The last strong king of the Cham was Che Bong Nga or Che Bunga, who ruled from 1360 until 1390. In Vietnamese stories he is called The Red King. Che Bong Nga apparently managed to unite the Cham lands under his rule and by 1372 he was strong enough to attack and almost conquer Dai Viet from the sea.
Cham forces sacked Thang Long, the capital city of Dai Viet located at the site of modern Hanoi, in 1372 and then again in 1377. A last attack in 1388 was checked by the Vietnamese General Ho Quy Ly, future founder of the Ho Dynasty. Che Bong Nga died two years later in 1390. This was the last serious offensive by the Cham against Dai Viet, but it helped spell the end of the Tran Dynasty, which had forged its reputation in the wars against the Mongols a century earlier, but which now revealed itself as weak and ineffective in the face of the Cham invasions.
In 1446, the Dai Viet under the leadership of Trinh Kha launched an invasion of Champa. The attack was successful and Vijaya fell to the invaders. A year later, however, a counter-attack drove the Viet from the city.
In 1470, the Dai Viet, led by the great emperor Le Thanh Tong, again invaded Champa. Le Thanh Tong was an extraordinary administrator and leader. The Dai Viet army was very powerful and well organized. By contrast the Cham were disorganized and weak. Vijaya was captured after four days of fighting on 21 March 1471. The Cham king Tra-Toan (Pau Kubah) was captured and died not long thereafter, though he sent his son Syah Pau Ling to Aceh and began a new dynasty there, and another son Syah Indera Berman to Melaka. According to linguistic study Acehnese people of northern Sumatra and Cham are related through the Aceh-Chamic languages. At least 60,000 Cham people were killed and 30,000 were taken as slaves by the Vietnamese army. The capital of Vijaya was obliterated. As a result of the victory, Le Thanh Tong annexed the principalities of Amaravati and Vijaya. This defeat caused the first major Cham emigration, particularly to Cambodia and Malacca.
What remained of historical Champa was the southern principality of Panduranga. Moreover, under the protection of Dai-Viet, it preserved some of its independence. This was the starting point of the modern Cham Lords in the principality of Panduranga (Phan Rang, Phan Ri and Phan Thiet).
In 1594 the Cham Lord Po At sent forces to assist the Sultanate of Johor's attack on Portuguese Malacca.
In 1692, the Cham Lord Po Sot rebelled against Nguyen Phúc Tran who ruled southern Vietnam. The revolt was at first unsuccessful and the aftermath was exacerbated by an outbreak of plague in Panduranga. However, a Cham aristocrat Oknha Dat obtained the help of the general A Ban, a Lauw (Orang Laut? Overseas Chinese?) leader. They was defeated by the Nguyen forces of Lord Nguyen Phúc Chu, under General Nguyen Huu Canh in 1695. After the defeated, new king Po Saktiray Da Patih (younger brother of Po Sot) signed a peace treaty with Nguyen Phuc Chu. As a result of the treaty, the Cham lords were called as Tran Vuong (local lord) of Thuan Thành(Panduranga) by the Nguyen Lords, and they were closely supervised by Nguyen officials.
Although the Cham lords had authority to the Cham people, "Archives du Panduranga" supplied some evidences about their limited authority over Vietnamese settlers. The Cham lords often played the role of the judge for Kinh-Cham conflict cases.
17 years later, in 1712, the Nguyen Lord Nguyen Phúc Chu made new treaty called "the treaty with 5 articles"(Ngu dieu Nghi dinh) with the Cham Lord Po Saktiray Da Patih and clarified the right (included the trial right of the Cham lords and Cham people) and the obligation of the Cham Lords and the Nguyen Lords. This new treaty was kept until 1832 by the Cham Lords, Nguyen Lords, Tây Son Lords and Nguyen Emperors.
As a result of the war between the Tây Son, under Nguyen Nhac, and Nguyen Ánh, in 1786, the Cham Lord Chei Krei Brei and his court fled to Cambodia. The assumption behind this flight is that they supported the Nguyen Lords and the Tây Son Lords seemed to have won the war. From then on, the Cham Lords' title was downgraded to prefect.
In 1796, during the last years of the Tây Son, Tuen Phaow, a noble from Makah (Kelantan), headed a major revolt against the new Cham leaders (Po Ladhwan Paghuh, Po Chong Chon and Po Klan Thu) and claimed Kelantan's support but the revolt was defeated. The Cham leaders regained their special rights once Nguy?n Ánh (the Emperor Gia Long) regained control over Vietnam in 1802. But even the limited Cham rule in Panduranga officially came to an end in 1832, when the Emperor Minh M?ng annexed the area.
This haut relief sculpture belonging to the Dong Duong Style of Cham art is of a Dvarapala or temple guardian.
Before the conquest of Champa by the Vietnamese king Lê Thánh Tông in 1471, the dominant religion of the Cham people was Hinduism, and the culture was heavily influenced by that of India. The Hinduism of Champa was overwhelmingly Shaivist, that is, focussed on the worship of Shiva, and it was liberally combined with elements of local religious cults such as the worship of the Earth goddess Yan Po Nagar. The main symbols of Cham Shaivism were the linga, the mukhalinga, the jatalinga, the segmented linga, and the kosa.
The predominance of Hinduism in Cham religion was interrupted for a time in the 9th and 10th centuries, when a dynasty at Indrapura (Dong Duong in Quang Nam Province of modern Vietnam) adopted Mahayana Buddhism as its faith. The Buddhist art of Dong Duong has received special acclaim for its originality.
In the 10th centuries and following, Hinduism again became the predominant religion of Champa. Some of the sites which have yielded important works of religious art and architecture from this period are, aside from My Son, Khuong My, Tra Kieu, Chanh Lo, and Thap Mam.
This 10th century Cham segmented jatalinga stands at the temple complex of My Son
Islam started making headway among the Cham after the 10th century, but it was only after the 1471 invasion that this influence picked up speed. By the 17th century the Royal families of Cham Lords also began to turn to Islam and this eventually triggerred the major shift in religious orientation of the Cham so that by the time of their final annexation by the Vietnamese, the majority of the Cham people had converted to Islam. Most Cham are now Muslims, though significant minorities of Hindus and Mahayana Buddhists exist.
Indonesian 15th century records indicate the influence of Princess Darawati, a Cham, in influencing her husband Kertawijaya, Majapahit's seventh ruler, similarly to Parameshwara of Malacca, to convert the Majapahit royal family to Islam. The Islamic tomb of Putri Champa (Princess of Champa) can be found in Trowulan, East Java, the site of Majapahit imperial capital. In 15th to 17th century, muslim Cham maintain a cordial relationship with Aceh Sultanate through dynastic marriage. This sultanate was located on the northern tip of Sumatra and was an active promotor of Islamic faith in Indonesian archipelago. According to linguistic studies Acehnese people and Cham are related as both were belongs to the same Aceh-Chamic languages family.
My Son is the site of the largest collection of Cham ruins.
The most significant site for Cham temple architecture is at My Son (Viet: My Son) near the town of Hoi An (Viet: H?i An). The large complex at My Son was heavily damaged by US bombing during the Vietnam War. The site is currently being restored with donations from a number of countries and NGO's. As of 2004, the clearing of land mines and UXO's had not been completed.
Many historic Cham towers still remain standing at other sites in Central Vietnam , including the following:
The largest collection of Cham sculpture may be found in the Danang Museum of Cham Sculpture (formerly known as "Musée Henri Parmentier") in the coastal city of Da Nang (Viet: Ðà Nang). The museum was established in 1915 by French scholars, and is regarded as one of the most beautiful in Southeast Asia. Other museums with collections of Cham art include the following: