top of page

The Kingdom of Champa

History & Civilization...




In the 2nd century of Christian reckoning, the Kingdom of Champa established itself in the area modern-day Danang.  It is founded by the people of Chams, who are ethnically not related to the Vietnamese but probably have immigrated from an area today belonging to Indonesia. While the King of Funan to the South of the Champa was hardly influenced by China, the Kingdom of Champa, during the 1,600 years of its history, repeatedly suffers Chinese over lordship.

Apart from that, Champa has to balance between two immediate neighbor stronger in numbers of population and in military terms: Vietnam to the North and the realm of the Khmer (Cambodians) to the South. Like Funan, the Kingdom of Champa principally is a seafaring merchant power ruling over only a small land area.

In 1471 the armies of the Vietnamese Le Dynasty conquer the Kingdom of Champa. About 60,000 Champa soldiers were slain, another 60,000 were abducted into Vietnamese slavery. The Kingdom of Champa is reduced to a small area around the present-day Vietnamese city of Nha trang.

When in 1720 a new attack by Vietnamese armies threatened The Kingdom of Champa, the entire of the Cham emigrates to the Southwest, into an area north of lake Tole Sap in present-day Cambodia.

During the Cambodian Khmer Rouge reign of terror from 1975 to 1979, some 100,000 of 250,000 of Chams died and killed.


The architecture and statues of Champa were inspired by religion, and flourished since the 4th Century and ended along with the fall of the Champa Kingdom in the 15th Century. 



Most of the statues were made from stones and bronze, sculpture found in temples, mountains carved on pediments, panels, or friezes.





There are two groups of Champa citizens:

1. One group resides in the coastal area
2. The other group lives in the highland regions.

Both groups speak the Austronesia language, and practice matrilineal and matrilocal system.

The Champa Kingdom is a poly-ethic nation made up of several ethic groups including Rhade, Jarai, Hroi, Raglai, Bahnar, Sedang, Mnong, Stieng and Ma.



There were two forms of writing in Champa, the Sanskrit and the ancient Cham writing. The first stone tablet written in the Champa language was dated to the 4th Century and the last stone tablet found in 1253 inscriptions is in Sanskrit. After the 4th Century, manuscripts replaced the epigraph. Towards the 15th Century, four new forms of writing continue to exist until today - replaced the ancient Cham writing.



Tradition clothing is in the most

prominent in showing the close

relationship and influence of the

Peninsular Malays on the Chams.

The traditional Champa costumes

and the way they are worn are quite

unique. The Nobility and the Commoners.

The Nobility costume must be worn during

ceremonies to distinguish a society.

It composed of an outfit made of four parts,

namely, the headgear, a pair of "baju"

(tunis and trouser), the belt and the sarong.

For the commoners, costumes worn depended on occasion. Men wear sarong with a long scarf on their shoulder and head.
Women with a long tunis or a "baju kurung" and a scarf on the head complete with accessories on their necks, hands according to their position and status on the society.

This complete costume is called "Aw tah" meaning a long tunis that is similar to the Malays "Baju Kurung"

The Chams are experts in processing threads for cloth weaving according to Chinese sources. The Champa Textile Industry is known for silk worms and Cotton, which clothing for loyalties and nobility only. The Textile Industry continued to be an important activity inherited through the various generations in the Champa society in Indochina, particularly in Vietnam.

The weaving industry helps create a heritage identity for Champa besides a source of income. At Phan Rang and Phan Ri, the weaving industry can be found in several specialized villages like at Caklaing and Tanran Villages in the Ninh Thuan Province (Central of Vietnam).

The Champa cultural and artistic features which are connected to and strongly influenced by the Malaysian Culture based on their unique heritage and way of life.


//Bingu Champa Newsletters:

Volume 1 February 2007

Volume 2 May 2007

Volume 3 July 2007

Volume 4 December 2007

Volume 5 August 2008

Volume 6 October 2008

Volume 7 June 2009

Volume 8 November 2009

Volume 9 April 2010

Volume 10 December 2010

Volume 11 June 2011

Volume 12 December 2011

Volume 13 May 2012

Volume 14 December 2012

Volume 15 October 2013

Volume 16 December 2014

bottom of page