The Cham Civilization

it is difficult to see, but the red triangles on the coast are ancient Cham temples

The Cham civilization is one of the oldest in Vietnam.  the Cham people thrived throughout the South as early as the 7th century CE.  The Cham were concentrated most heavily from the central highlands, south of the Hai Van pass and stretching along the coast to about 100 miles north of HCMC.  The Cham were migrants from as far away as Borneo and were primarily traders in sandalwood throughout south east Asia.  Today there are fewer than 200,000 Cham people, most live just north of the Mekong Delta.

The Cham Museum in Da Nang contains the largest collection of Cham artifacts in the world, the Hindu influence is clear and distinctive.  The Cham, eventually were engaged in several battles with the Viet to the North, and the Khmer to the west in Cambodia, and eventually, the Cham civilization was destroyed.



One of the very interesting aspects of Cham culture, was that like the Maya, the main temple area was used only for religious service and the people remained primarily agricultural and the people lived outside the main temple areas.
In My Son, about 1 1/2 hour drive south of Hoi An, are the last remaining Cham temples. You will notice in one of the temples a shot from the inside, of a temple which is also interesting. I had a conversation leading up to the temple site about pyramids. In Egypt and in the America's the pyramid was the primary structure in temple construction, yet when we examine the temples from Cham, or the Hindi temples they appear very round and circular, but when you look from the inside, it is conical- pyramid shaped- and then the rounded outside is somehow constructed- I don't really know how, but it's cool.


Below a Vietnamese government interpretation of a Cham ceremonial dance



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