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A Short Sketch of Her Historical Evolution 
Based on Architectural Ruins 


Published by 
Suhrid Kumar Mitra, 
15, Shama Char an DC 

Printed by 

J. C. Sarkhel, Esqr. at the 

Calcutta Oriental Press Ltd., 

9, Panchanan Ghose Lane, 



Bv the courtesy of Ecolc Franfaise d'Extreme Orient 


By the courtesy of Ecole Franpaise d' Extreme Orient 


Swami Sadananda, the learned author of this interest- 
ing study of Champa, has earned competence to write 
on this subject not only by his painstaking investigations 
into the history of Greater India but also by his several 
visits to its various constituent parts, like Annam, 
Cambodia, Sumatra, Java, Bali etc. He was thus able 
to study the monuments of these lands first hand with 
an appreciative and at the same time a critical eye. 
His numerous articles on allied subjects in news papers 
and periodicals have shown that he has derived the 
fullest advantages from his long and intimate contact 
with these countries and his present publication on 
Champa is a further indication of his earnestness. Dr. 
R. C. Mazumdar's works on the same subject, published 
more than a decade ago, treated the various problems 
connected with it with a great wealth of details and 
scholarship. But to those who will not be able to go 
through that scholarly volume and to many others this 
handy little book on Champa will be of immense value 
for knowing a good deal about this ancient land. 

Champa 'roughly corresponds to the present province 
of Annam <excluding Ton*Kin and French Cochin^ 
China) with the exception of the three northern districts, 
Thana Hoa, Nghe An and Ha Tinh'. This tract was 
originally inhabited by the Chams who belonged to 

Austronesian Stock. It is probable that its population 
originally contained some Chinese elements/ but if there 
were any, these were completely submerged by a newer 
element which the Chams derived from their important 
neighbour on the west the great land of Bharatavarsa. 
India played a glorious part in extending hercultural 
influence over this country through successive batches 
of some intrepid colonists, who from the second or the 
third century A. D. to the fifteenth century A. D. when 
the land was conquered by the Annamites, played the 
most dominant role in her political and cultural history. 
The Indians were not, however, birds of passage and 
they did not go there merely to exploit the country for 
their own gain. They settled there, thoroughly identified 
themselves with the children of the soil and cast in their 
lot with that of the previous settlers. The latter too 
gladly surrendered to their alien masters and were tho- 
roughly Hinduised. It is, thus, not so much the cultural 
history of the original Chams that we have to study in 
the land of Champa as the civilisation and culture of 
India in a new and favourable setting. We do not fail 
to recognise there the manners, customs, language and 
religion of the Indians which were given a little orienta- 
tion in the course of their being acclimatised on a foreign 
soil. Thus if we take stock of a few details concerned 
with the above, we cannot but be struck with the great 
resemblance between the Hinduised Cham culture and 
its parent. The dress of the people about which 
we get an idea from the various extant monuments in 
the country shows that like the generality of the Indians, 


the Chams used to cover the portion of their body 
below the waist line with tastefully designed clothing 
and like the Indians again they used to decorate the 
upper part of their body with beautiful ornaments. 
Marriage among them -specially among those that were 
highly placed in society' was held as a sacred inviolable 
bond as in India / the details of this ceremony as record- 
ed in relevant ancient Chinese texts strongly remind us 
of the same in an Indian one. The practice of Sati was 
in vogue among the higher classes as in India. A good 
many of the Hindu rites and festivals were observed at 
Champa. Different methods of disposal of the dead 
such as cremation, the practice of the exposure of the 
dead body, were known there and the funeral ceremo- 
nies are dimly reminiscent of the Indian ones. Cultured 
people there used Sanskrit language and as the epigra- 
phic records uptil the tenth century fully prove that 
classical Sanskrit literature was particularly studied by 
many among the higher classes. In fact what literature 
was there was in Sanskrit and we are not aware of the 
existence of any indigenous literature if there were any 
at all from any source. 

Brahmanical sectarian religions of India like Saivism, 
Vaishnavism and Buddhism introduced by the Indian 
colonists found a ready recognition among the children 
of the soil / not only Brahma, Vishnu and Siva the 
orthodox Brahmanical triad were objects of high 
veneration among them, but also the minor Hindu divi- 
nities like Indra, Yama, Chandra and a host of others 
were held in high esteem. 


Swami Sadananda has treated many of these details 
with a zeal and earnestness which would recommend his 
work to every one. He got much valuable assistance 
in the pursuit of his work from such eminent French 
savants like Dr. Goloubew and Mons. J. T. Claeys, 
who helped him in studying the ruins of Champa and 
seeing over the museums, for which he is much thankful 
to them. He offers also his utmost good wishes to the 
Indian residents of Champa the Sindhis and the Chetti^ 
yars whose unfailing hospitality stood him in such good 
stead during his peregrinations in this country. Lastly 
his cordial thanks are due to two other gentlemen for 
the great help they rendered him in publishing his work. 
Mr. K. C. De, as he had done while the author's 
Suvarnadwipa was being sent to the press, had kindly 
helped him by carefully revising the manuscript and 
making it ready for the press / while Mr. Prafulla Kumar 
Das has taken great trouble in reading the proofs. 

Calcutta Umversity j Jitcndra Nath Banerjea 


By the courtesy of M. Paul Mas 


By the courtesy of Ecole Fran^aise ^Extreme Orient 


Definite proofs cannot be adduced but from an analy* 
tical study of the somatic and linguistic affinities of 
diverse races in different parts of the globe, ethnogra- 
phists conclude that the prehistoric man had always 
been on the move. Whenever he found a better and a 
more secured prospect of satisfying his physiological and 
economic needs, he quitted his old habitat without regret 
and marched with his group to a new region, The idea of 
nationalism or territorial patriotism has been the outcome 
of a much later epoch in socio-political evolution, when 
duties incumbent on him began to include the preserva* 
tion of race^culture. A cynical disregard for the exist* 
ing rights of another group specially if the latter were 
less^armed and worse^placed in the method of self* 
defence, was evinced by the early man in the very same 
manner as his civilised descendants often betray in their 
programme of ambitious aggrandisement. Thus many are 
the instances where the weak were butchered in toto, 
chased out of their occupation, forced to fly into moun* 
tainous recesses or swallowed up by intermarriage. 
This last alternative, i.e., fusion was only possible for 
those who had certain similarities, whether in speech, 
method of living or in the form of worship. If it was a 


mere physical attraction, only women were allowed to 
live, while the male population was decimated. In any 
case the conquering group imposed its manners and 
customs and more often than not built up its glory and 
tradition on the remnants of what they pillaged. 

If this be the ethnographic sketch of any land, we find 
that it fits in admirably with the ancient and mediaeval 
days of Champa or Annam. This double denomination is 
in itself suggestive. To-day the map of the eastern part 
of French Indo-China only indicates Annam, but there 
is no means of pointing out that on the same soil for a 
space of five or six centuries, was founded, governed and 
finally lost a glorious empire a people whose descen^ 
dants now live mostly in South Annam and who are 
called the Chams. 

Ethnically speaking, the Chams like the Annamites 
originated from the Ocenians, who comprised diverse 
types of humanity hailing at different periods from all 
quarters of the earth, They migrated through Egypt 
and Mesopotamia, halted in the Indus valley and finally 
swarmed to countries and islands on the Pacific board. 
They sponsored some five thousand years ago a civilisa- 
tion, the relics of which abound in the mausoleums of 
the Pharaohs and in the cities which once stood on the 
environment of Harappa and Mohenjodaro. Those who 
stuck to the mainland of Asia earned the appellation of 
the Indonesians. That a branch of the latter was to be 
found near Tonkin in the neolithic age has been definitely 

Page two 


established by the discoveries at BaoSon. During their 
southward trek they encountered the Thais, a band 
of Southern Mongoloids who occupied the Yang^tse 
valley originally, but moved to further south along the 
coast. These won the generic nomenclature 'Indo- 
Chinese', of whom the Annamites kept to the border 
territories of the south of China, the Chams to the mari* 
time districts, the Cambodian^Khmers to the grassy 
plane in the centre, while an offshoot, ethnically more 
complex, penetrated into the south^easternmost penin* 
sula of Asia. 

Negroid irruptions were not infrequent, for the fertile 
deltas of the Menam, the Mekong and the Song^Kai 
attracted the island-hordes from Polynesia. Some of 
them interbred with the Thais and retained their phonetic 
peculiarities / some others were under the sway of 
Champa in her palmy days and still display a marked 
influx of Cham vocabulary in their tongue / the rest were 
dispossessed of their fertile land and driven to mountain 
fastnesses / where they maintain even now their primitive 
habits. These savages are known as Mois in Annam. 

Linguistically the Chams are unlike the Annamites. 
They are more akin to the Cambodian-Khmers and the 
Malayas, whereas the Annamite dialect has been derived 
from the same source as the Thai~Tibeto-Burman 
Siamese group. Probably the Chams were more vigorous 
than their sister-tribes when they fused with the Thais. 
They only took the daughters of the Thais which account 

Page three 


for the Mongolia features of the Chams, but the 
Annamites gave their women to the conquerors, whose 
idioms they borrowed in exchange. 

For their religion, the Chams shared with the Anna- 
mites their devotion to spirits, which they inherited from 
their Indonesian fore-fathers. To this they added the 
Thaic reverence for ancestors. The starting point in 
both these cults must have been the outcome of a search 
for the primordial cause of all. It was traced in one 
case to the fecundity of the soil and in the other to 
human parents. From the soil, a step ahead led them 
to the latent power which produced its fertility. To 
satisfy a crude mind some graphic representation was 
needed and the stone being more durable than the clay 
was commandered as its emblem. The Mongol mind 
worked in a similar groove and the departed spirit of a 
beloved forbear filled the place of the Authority behind, 
which soon developed into an osseous symbol. 
Whether the Linga creed of a much later epoch exercised 
a similar effect on Cham mentality or not will be 
discussed later on, but suffice it to say that inspite of 
ethnic affinity and religious bond we find the Chams 
and Annamites, were constantly at war with one 
another for economic reasons. Of any prehistoric 
alliance between them we can say nothing, but within 
the memory of history we have only one instance 
when both these races buried their private feuds and 
presented a united front to their common enemy. It 

Page four 


was when they jointly crushed the five battalions of 
Koublai Khan. 

To an entirely strange set of people the Chams and 
most of their affiliated tribes owe their cultural evolu- 
tion. These men were dissimilar to them racially and 
mentally / yet they wielded a tremendous influence on 
all the south-eastern inhabitants of Asia. They flooded 
with their civilisation all those benighted people who 
lived in the tract that lay between the Bay of Bengal 
and the Gulf of Tonkin, including the islands of the 
Indian Archipelago and transformed them into glorious 
nations, whose architectural evidences still display them- 
selves significantly through the corridor of time as some 
of the most admirable creations of man. Brahma, 
Syama, Malaya, Javadvipa, Bali, Sumatra, Kamboja 
and Champa might have been eponyms given by these 
people, whose intellectual movement radiated from the 
Aryavarta to the Dakshinapatha and from there to all 
these territories. It was the Sanskritic adventurers of 
Bharatabarsha, who were responsible for the spiritual, 
intellectual and moral uplift of their neighbours as much 
as for the latter's material prosperity. The Indo- Aryans 
attempted no physical subjugation of any race / their 
colonisation was not synonymous with the exploitation 
of indigenous resources which would prove in the long 
run detrimental to the inferior race. Theirs was no 
sanguinary march of a victorious Alexander, who 
devastated everything but constructed nothing in its 

Page five 


wake. On the contrary theirs was a triumphant march 
of a massive intellect whose guiding philosophy was to 
impart knowledge to the backward. Thus their chasten- 
ed vehicle of expression, their incomparable literature 
both sacred and secular and their progressive science 
became eventually the mainstay of the advancement of 
the countries of their adoption. They taught their subor- 
dinate folks the art of government, the science of archi- 
tecture and the improved method of agriculture. It was 
under Hindu tutelage that some of the maritime people 
learned the technic of navigation/ it was under their aegis 
that the coastal people developed to such an extent the 
sea borne trade that the peninsula of Malaya found a 
new denomination, namely 'Golden Chersonese 7 from 
the ancient Europeans. If the Hindus could lend their 
scripts to the Eastern Islanders and if they could stretch 
their cultural influence through Micronesia and Guatemala 
to the Mayas of the New Hemisphere, we can easily 
imagine how deeply must they have affected the social 
structures of those who lived next door to them. Their 
missionary activities were of a peaceful nature. They 
used no sword to effect conversion to their creeds and 
military aggrandisement was never associated with their 
religious domination. It was based on the sympathetic 
acceptance of a superior intelligence for the betterment of 
the race. Sheer brute force was avoided and conciliatory 
gesture was employed or a small body of pioneers 
like Agastya and his disciples who voyaged to distant 

Page six 


lands would have been crushed and their attempts forgot^ 
ten instead of being reverently cherished to this day. 

Historically, the first Hindu monument in Champa 
is the pillar of Vo^canh which was discovered near 
Nah^trang in the South. The inscription takes us back to 
the second century A.D., but there must have been some 
earlier tokens of Indian civilisation which have perished. 
The eminent French palaeographer Mons. J. Y. Claeys 
is of opinion that of 250 architectural remains in Annam 
to-day, there are only a few which will assist the histori* 
an to reconstruct the annals of Hindu Champa. The rest 
offer too little material, crumbling to dust as they are, to 
be of any use. Hence there is nothing against our 
assumption that the Hindu influence in Champa must 
have commenced at least by the time of Asoka, if not 
earlier. In 137 A.D., we gather from the Chinese records, 
the Champites organized armed attacks on the military 
post on the frontiers of China. They stormed the station, 
killed the officer^in^charge and burnt down all the strong* 
holds. It perturbed the Mongol Emperor so much that 
he sent his famous general Ma^Vin to reorganize the 
southern defence. The Chinese commander won his 
laurels in his fight against the Trung sisters but found the 
subjugation of the Champites a tougher problem. He 
was kept busy in repulsing the systematic bombardment 
of his frontier at Je^Nan and these skirmishes only 
ceased after 55 years when the whole province was 
annexed to the kingdom of Champa under Lien. It is 

Page seven 


not possible from the Sino-Annamese phonetics to 
deduce if the name Lam*ap or Lien was of a Sanskritic 
origin, or whether it formed the part of the ruler's title. 
After the addition of this new province of Nahtnam 
<or Je^nan) in the north, Champa extended the whole 
littoral from Porte d' Annam <or the Annam Gate) to the 
Cape of Panduranga in the south. Their outpost must 
have included the fort of Kisu^Sou the ruins of which are 
still seen near Hue. The Sanskritic names of the southern 
districts, Vijaya Kauthara and Amaravati suggest that the 
Hinduised monarchs thought it safe to shift their political 
centre of gravity away from the Annamites if not from 
the Chinese. Hence Simhapura <which historians identi* 
fy with Tara*Kieu> was made the capital of the kingdom, 
on account of its central position. 

In a Chinese traveller's diary we meet with an 
account of this ancient capital of Champa in the eighth 
century. It stood on the bend of a river which served it 
as its commercial highway and gave it an appearance of 
a port^town. The periphery was eight odd lis, which 
was marked by a brick^wall with built-in gateways 
opening on the strand. What struck our diarist as odd 
was the absence of a gate in the south, a practice con* 
trary to the Chinese conventions of city-building. There 
were several assembly^halls and palaces, all made of 
bricks. The town had, besides, ridge^like terraces with 
overhanging turrets which seemed to the Buddhistic tra- 
veller as pagoda pradakshinapathas. The town had eight 

Page eight 


important places of worship which contained images of 
gold and silver. Knowing as we do of the broad toler^ 
ance the Hindus displayed towards other cults, we are 
tempted to surmise that of these eight temples at least a 
few were devoted to Sakti*worship. <This is also borne 
out by the images of the ten^handed Durgamurti and 
Lima). The town had to be well-protected, for the 
Annamites were ever^ready to swoop down upon it for 
pillage. The Chams were not less ready to retaliate ; 
they too, used every opportunity to march up to the 
Annamite capital for spoliation. 

This constant tension led to the demolition of Simha- 
pura by the Annamites beyond recognition. Inspite of 
the Chinese description and the pillar-inscription found 
at Mi-son, it taxed all the ingenuity of scholars of 
world-wide reputation, like Louis Finot and J. Y. Claeys, 
to establish beyond doubt the identity of Simhapura 
with the excavated site near Tra-Kieu, and to finally 
clear away the mystery connected with the Dong-Duong 
pedestal which claimed Indrapura as its Capital. The 
ancient Champa had to remove her capital at least 
three times/ once in 446, again in 605 and perhaps for 
the last time in 982 A.D. Simhapura like our Delhi 
might have had a previous counterpart at Naht-Nam, 
where the Chinese military post was burnt down in the 
second century A.D. But she had to give way to Indra- 
pura, which again had to be replaced by Vijaya, near 
modern Binh-Dinh. 

Page nine 


Near the last mentioned town we have one of the 
last strongholds of old Champa. In an excavation 
carried in 1934 A.D., Mons. J. Y. Claeys has after a 
herculean effort, discovered near Cha-ban <or Binh-Dinh) 
huge sandstone blocks of the middle period of Cham 
architecture. Perhaps the construction of the monument, 
of which these blocks are relics, began when Vijaya had 
already been selected as the capital of Champa. For 
Jayavarman VII of Camboja <Cambodia> wished to 
punish the king of the Chams and inaugurated a thirty- 
year Khmer government at Vijaya, which continued to 
be the seat of the Cham rule, to the last. 

Indian inspiration in all branches of art can be easily 
traced in the relics of Cham culture which adorn the 
various museums of Annam to-day. It was however 
never followed, rigidly a trait which shows the flexibility 
of Cham temperament. It strove to create something 
new and mostly succeeded in producing gorgeous objects 
of art. In architecture the Hindu canons were followed 
in broad outlines but the Khmer and the Chinese tech- 
nics were imitated in a manner suitable to their own 
national style. The evidences in brick and mortar can 
still be viewed / but except a few gold and silver wares 
here and there, we have to satisfy ourselves with the 
Hsts of gifts donated by rulers, inscribed on the gateways 
to temples. 

Justice can hardly be done to the progress of the 
Chams during their ascendency, unless we are prepared 

Page ten 


to take into account the troublesome days through which 
they carried on their programme of national awakening 
and culture. From the fifth to the tenth centuries they 
must have been busy in laying the foundation of their 
artistic works and in accumulating wealth through 
commercial pursuits. The next four hundred years, they 
were occupied with putting their own house in order. 
Never were they free from sporadic invasions which 
their accumulated treasure invited. Thrice had they 
to rebuild their capitals and re-arrange their defences. 
They must have had enormous recuperative power or 
they would have long ago vanished from the face of the 
earth. If the Annamites kept them busy in the north, 
the Cambodians were always on the alert to pounce 
upon the unguarded territories in the south. These 
skirmishes on the frontiers naturally weakened the state 
and provincial revolts against the central authority were 
not also infrequent. For all these, the Chams had to 
thank themselves. Their quality as fighters need not be 
doubted nor their seamanship. But in diplomacy they 
were bankrupts. Their generals spoiled the success of 
their arms by not following a crushing victory to its 
conclusion while the Cham monarch impaired their 
foreign relations by a most short-sighted policy. Instead 
of entering into a defensive alliance with China against 
the Annamites, they often would imprison the Imperial 
envoys to their Court or add fresh insults by sending 
as tributes the spoils of their high-sea robbery. It 

Page eleven 


was too late when the idea of defensive alliance with 
China dawned on Cham statesmen. It is surmised that 
the Celestial Emperor was half-hearted in his attempt to 
save Champa while she was in her last throes before the 
Annamite conqueror. It was natural for a munificent 
overlord like the Chinese Emperor to desire for one less 
undesirable among his vassals, who never appreciated the 
kind and benign treatment of their grand seigneur. 

To this we may add the follies which kings like 
Simhavarman committed. At the beginning of the 14th 
century this monarch, getting tired of his Malayan 
consort, sought the hands of a beautiful Annamese 
princess, the 'Pearly Jet'. For marrying her Simhavar^ 
man readily parted with two rich provinces of Champa, 
The king soon died and the Annamese princess like 
Marie Louise after the downfall of the first Napoleon, 
returned to her father's court, who however kept a tight 
grip over the ceded territory. 

The last ruler to sit on the throne of Champa was 
Le-thanh-ton. In 1471 A.D. he had to pay the penalty 
his predecessor Che-bong-ga had incurred. The latter- 
had carried the war into the Annamite capital, destroyed 
its citadel and died fighting on his war-vessel, on the eve 
of his victory. The Annamites now retaliated by taking 
Le-thanh-ton prisoner at Vijaya. They massacred the 
Chams. Thousands of the conquered were expatriated 
to the sparsely populated districts of north Annam. The 
rest fled for protection to the extreme south and a few 

Page twelve 


saved themselves by crossing the Cambodian frontiers. 
Cities were foraged/ temples and repositories looted/ 
valuable archives burnt down, works of art destroyed or 
transferred to the seat of the conqueror/ magnificent 
buildings pulled down to supply materials for Annamite 
structures/ what more, women and Indian priests were 
marched as chained gangs of malefactors to the capital 
of the Annamese. Thus ended a glorious kingdom and 
also a people who are to-day found in motely crowds 
and to whom the stories of their past reach to-day in a 
garbled Islamic version. 

Climatic conditions contribute a good deal to the 
cultural efflorescence of a country but ultimately help 
the decay of its achievements. Champa, as she lay 
within the monsoon area beneath a tropical sky, with 
an extensive seaboard intended with fertile deltas to the 
east and a cord of high hills to the west, soon became 
a suitable receptacle of the advanced ideas of the 
Hindus. But her very prosperity rendered her a cons- 
tant battle ground between her people and the Anna- 
mites. Were her people politically as capable as they 
were artistically developed, they would have still 
retained the possession of Champa and her traditions. 

What with the vandalism of her conqueror and what 
with the prolific growth of nature around her the re-cons- 
truction of her past glory has become an extremely 
difficult task. It is a great credit to the learned 
members of Ecole Frangaise d'Extreme-Orient that 

Page thirteen. 


they have taken all the troubles of penetrating into 
dense jungles infested with poisonous insects and 
reptiles, to restitute to the Chams their cultural at- 
tempts. In those days they used a vegetable liquid 
for cementing the brick structure of their temples and 
palaces and these have aided the growth of towering 
trees the thick cord- like roots of which have clawed 
into cracked masonry work. Probably these buildings 
were already stormed by invaders and shattered to 
pieces, which have been reduced to crumbling mass by 
the ravages of time. Besides the Chams extensively 
employed burnt bricks in their artistic creations, which 
naturally fail to stand the inclemency of weather as 
much as the standstone pillars with which they built the 
entrance to these temples or palaces. These burnt-bricks 
were of a large size called mandarins and were employed 
along with baked clay for the bulk of masonry work as 
they were more pliable to chisels. But idols, corner- 
angles and pedestals were made of grit-stone which 
allowed sharp profiles. The Khmer architect origi- 
nally built wholly with bricks : later on, they, used hard 
stones like blue sand-stone, but eventually took to 
laterite only. The only point of grace has been that 
most of their inscriptions were engraved on rocky 
materials and therefore were more enduring. To rebuild 
these remains is tedious at its best : it requires dexterity 
as well as a thorough knowledge of the Chams 7 now- 
lost science of erection, let alone the artistic tempera- 

Page fourteen 


ment without which the task of reconstruction cannot 
be brought to a fruitful issue. Hence we cannot but 
admire the phalanx of savants like MM. Louis Finot, 
Aurousseau, Claeys, Golubew, Mus and others to 
whom the world is indebted for the light thrown on the 
vanished civilisation of a decadent race. 

These pioneers had to brave the dangers of over- 
grown tropical countrysides, away from the world of 
civilisation with no possible conveyance : at any moment 
they might be cut off from the world outside : they 
risked contracting unknown infection and incurring the 
displeasure of unsympathetic tribes. Thus Carpeux 
died of an undiagnosed disease, while Odend'hal and 
Commaille fell at the hands of assasins. Yet men like 
Finot and Lajonquiere trudged for four months the 
distance between Saigon and Hanoi for archaeological 
survey. The whole project is perforce expensive as it 
includes a mobile unit of paraphernalia required for 
scientific examination of relics in detail. 

Indigenous sources such as anecdotes and legends 
have to be critically studied and can be accepted with 
great caution. The Annamites of the fifteenth century 
were not satisfied with pulling down public places and 
institutions : they set fire to priceless archives containing 
literature which would have to-day served us invaluable 
documents for our inquiry into the social organization of 
the Champites. And what escaped, very little written 
if at all, degenerated during these centuries into folklores 

Page fifteen 


garbled with anachronism and imaginary events. To 
extricate authentic incidents from the accumulated mass 
of myths requires the patience of a Job if not the energy 
of a Hercules. What has still more complicated the 
task of people like Father Cadiere is that the Cham 
traditions after their trek to the South have been buried 
owing to their conversion to Islamism, under a garbage of 
Arabian misfits. 

The next source of materials from which the history 
of the old Champa may be reconstituted is of Annamite 
origin, which has to be minutely checked as it contains 
the violent denunciation of the conquered or the extra- 
vagant praise of the conquerors. It should be collated 
with what may be obtained from the Chinese records, 
but none of them can claim an intimate knowledge of the 
everyday life of Champa and can only shed oblique light 
on matters arising out of political and commercial rela- 
tions. The Chinese can be relied upon so far as they deal 
with the Champa-Annamite struggle, but where they are 
themselves concerned we should admit their version with 
a grain of salt. Then again their hieroglyphs require 
concurrent accounts for their proper transliteration. 
Save and except some cursory remarks of a traveller or 
a trader we have hardly any definite premises to base 
our socio*religious deductions regarding Champa archi- 
tectural findings. 

In face of these obstacles, the personnel of the Ecole 
Frangaise d'Extreme-Orient must be congratulated for 

Page sixteen 

jj < 

Ck O 


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their stupendous results which required not only a facile 
pen but the clever handling of a spade as well. The 
French Government have taken Curzonian strides to- 
wards the proper conservation of old monuments by for- 
bidding their removal until a body of experts under the 
guidance of the Ecole Director has examined them. Any 
fresh finding has to be immediately reported and their 
export without a Government permit is banned. The 
authorities have spared funds as well, for, the whole 
of Indo-China is dotted to-day with beautiful museums 
that have become now the classified repositories and 
archives of all relics. Out of 250 groups of ruins only 
a few have been made to tell their stories and these too 
would have remained silent were it not for the labour 
of the savants attached to the Ecole. Nor do these 
scholars limit their activities within the boundary of the 
French possessions in Asia but often they visit other 
lands where similar work is being carried on. Only seven 
years ago MM. Finot and Goloubew found their way 
to Ceylon for studying at first hand the archaeological 
technics of the Singhalese. In return they invited persons 
of kindred science to their libraries and museums. 

It must, however, be pointed out in this connection, a 
fundamental limit to these researches, which in our 
opinion is natural and not intentional. One will agree 
with us that the study of the internal evolution, social 
or religious, of any race cannot be sufficiently accurate 
unless it is interpreted from the view point of the people 

Page seventeen 


that constitute the race. Megasthenes was on a political 
mission to the Court of Chandragupta and he could only 
lay stress on the state affairs of the Mauryan Emperor. 
Fa-Hien was primarily a Buddhist scholar who interested 
himself only in the magnificence of the creed he pro- 
fessed. It would not be possible for either of them to 
speak authoritatively and without bias on the mysticism 
of the contemporary Hindu Cult or the intricacy of social 
customs, prevailing then. In dim reflections of Champa's 
past it is naturally difficult to the exteme for scholars 
whose formative years have been spent in an environ- 
ment upholding the ethic standards of ancient Judea to 
enter intimately into the esoterism of the Phallic doctrine 
introduced by the Hindu Saivites into this ancient 
kingdom. Inspite of its superficial resemblance to the 
osseous symbols of spirit or ancestor-worship of the pre- 
Hindu Champa the Linga-creed of the Indians had no 
other likeness. Those who have probed beneath the 
surface of any school of religious teaching founded by 
the Indians, have been surprised to discover that often a 
gross emblem has been concocted to hide their deep 
reverence for the Supreme Being. We need not enter 
into the details of the worship of the Lord Siva in the 
form of a Linga, but it would be sufficient for our 
purpose to hint at the central theme of this doctrine, 
namely, that the eternal cycle of destruction and creation 
is a manifest phase of the Ultimate Authority and that it 
has nothing of that crudeness of procreation which may 

Page eighteen 


be associated with the Spirit of Soil theory as suggested 
by M. Paul Mus. Further, the religious psychology of 
the Indians would deem its profanity and irreverence to 
identify a holy image with its royal donor. It is 
probable that the present Chams would explain that the 
idol in any of the extant temples is really a stone figure 
of its royal founder of the by-gone days, but they would 
be mistaken. The name of the temple-builder is men- 
tioned as a devotee of the Lord that is to be worshipped 
there. Thus Indreswara Siva would mean Siva who 
was the master of a king called Indra. Still oftner would 
we come across the Lord <or the Lady, if a goddess) of 
a place as the style of the image in the place of devotion 
by the person endowing it signified that the god or 
goddess was perforce the protector of the people living 
in that region. A similar mistake would occur, if the 
Statute of 'Our Saviour' or of the 'Blessed Virgin 7 is con- 
fused with the donor. Lastly, the love of mysticism 
has often led the Aryans to use words of double- 
entendre in their scriptures and literature. The story of 
Cham edition of the Aryan Indra or the Roman Jupiter 
has been primarily derived from an ambiguous phrase 
like "Ahalyajaraindra, 77 where the Ahalyajara signified 
''the slayer of the night/ 7 Indra being synonymous with 
Surya or the Sun in the Vedas. These discrepancies 
can be removed only by systematic interpretations from 
the Sastric point of view and would enable a historian to 
grasp the true reason for the intellectual domination by 

Page nineteen 


the Hindus over the Chams. And the prayer to the 
blessed goddess of Kauthara could be only inspired by 
the teachings of such spiritual master-minds. 

Regarding the social history of old Champa we 
must therefore fall back upon architectural evidences 
chiefly. The existing stone figures and rock engravings 
display well-proportioned features though seldom we 
come across any mascularly developed athletic body. 
At the same time obese types of humanity are rare. 
The only corpulent figures are those of the dvar^palas 
<gate-keepers> and of Siva who always wears a sacred 
thread. His elephant-headed son has also the same 
distinctive decoration of a Brahmana (e.g., the seated 
image now preserved in the Tourane Museum). The 
standing images show that the Champaites were never 
very tall, but as there are only a few amusing pygmies, 
we are led to believe that men and women were 
generally of medium height. Mostly clean-shaven 
faces are seen, but a pair of trimmed moustaches <e.g., 
the disloged head of Siva at Mi-Son) or a pointed 
Assyrian beard <e.g., the double idol of Po-Nraup> can 
be occasionally detected. Women had a lothesome 
but graceful body but never prone to fatness. They 
wore, as did men, ear-rings, necklaces, armlets, bracelets 
and girdles. Men however, did not adorn their legs 
like women with anklets and toe-bells, but both sexes 
do not appear to use any footwear. Headgears were 
various and coiffures had different technics of their own. 

Page twenty 


None of the male figures carry any weapon <except 
religious emblems like conches, lotuses, wheels, tridents, 
amulets etc.). That the people had a carefree 
temperament can be guessed from the optimistic <not 
the enigmatic smile of Buddha) smile on all statue faces. 
They were a gay race who loved to dance to the tune 
of a flute and who could execute most of the classical 
poses. The Nataraja murti is not wanting either. 

From the dedicatory prefaces we learn that Siva 
was the most prominent of the Aryan trinity. Brahma 
and Vishnu are also mentioned but are rare like their 
stony representations. Mostly we find them occupy- 
ing subservient positions to the Lord of the Lords, 
whose divine spouse Parvati, and sons Ganesha and 
Kartikeya had temples built in their honour. The 
elephant-head of Lambodara is executed with, minute 
details and in his standing position his legs have a 
swollen appearance. Kartikeya has his divine peacock 
but Garudas are discovered <not as a carrier) in Siva- 
temples instead of the usual bull. Brahma in one case 
<as in the Lingamukham of Trach^pho) is seated on a 
lotus and a bird, perhaps an imitation of the divine 
Swan, is seen flying over him. Vishnu in the same 
group is seated on a Varaha with his chakra, lotus and 
mace flying about. Whether the Varaha refers to his 
incarnation as in the case of his Kurmavatara image/ 
we are left to guess, but the theme of depiction is that 
these two gods are surprised at the appearance of Siva 

Page twenty-one 


in his Agnirupam. Whether the Lord of Preservation 
along with the Lord of Creation are praying to the 
Lord of Destruction to envelop himself doubly so that 
the world may be spared from the devastating flame 
we leave the readers to judge for themselves. 

Of the different attributes which naturally accom- 
pany these divinities we seldom notice any deviation 
from the Hindu conceptions. The Brahmanic yajnopavita 
in some instances is composed of entwined serpents and 
instead of the customary bow and arrows Skanda is 
shown with a thunderbolt. The third eye of yogic 
knowledge is also seen so often that we would like to 
identify in its absence the double idol of Po^Nraup 
<mentioned above) leaning against a half^cleft Linga^ 
mukham as Brahma who generally has more than one 
head. For the same reason we hesitate to identify the 
negro^lipped flat^nosed two-handed bejewelled fiture 
of Dong^Duong with Lord Siva. It has neither the 
sacred thread nor has the jata^like (matted locks) 
coiffure of other Siva^images. The absence of these 
emblems are also noticed in the seated Siva of the same 
place preserved in the Tourane Museum. Sivamurtis 
on the whole have kindred features to Maheswara 
images of present Bengal. 

It is really marvellous to think that the people of 
Champa could adapt themselves to the Hindu religious 
ideals so closely yet preserve their race identity. In 
none of their murtis anything grotesque or idealistic has 

Page twenty -two 


been attempted but on the contrary most of them 
faithfully adhere to human anatomy in details. Very 
few we find among these Cham statues who are nude. 
Most of them are draped in folds of embroidered cloth 
secured to the waist with bejewelled girdles. All these 
technics are derived from the Aryan inspiration but all 
of them have distinct Cham style stamped on them. 

Quite a number of animals drew the attention of the 
Cham artist. Those with whom he was familiar 
received a faithful representation. Thus elephant and 
horses, for instance, have been sculptured with minute 
details. The former often have appeared as the heads 
of Ganesha as well as wholly, but mostly without 
tusks. The Tourane museum elephant has a diadem 
of intricate design to denote its royal patronage and its 
poise is one of the best craftmanship of Champa. The 
equestrian figures are taken from a bas-relief on a partU 
tion^wall at Da^Han. They represent a couple of youth** 
ful Champaites on beautifully caparisoned horses who 
appear welMooked^after. They too seem enjoying with 
their masters a game akin to our modern polo. The 
riders, <the foremost is of tender age and his innocent 
smile is really captivating) have one hand free probably 
for reins, the other holding a stick similar to one with 
which we play hockey. The saddles are placed on a 
frilled support tied to the carefully^groomed tails of the 
beasts whose manes are also trimmed. 

Perhaps the Cham sculpture never had the chance of 

Page twenty-three 


inspecting a peacock or a lion at close quarters. The 

bird's outspread tail towers high above Kartikeya and its 

talons are too griffin4ike to be natural. The head of the 

bird is broken, but the portion of the neck which is 

preserved is rather that of an oversized peacock. The 

angry lion of Tra-Kieu is more drawn from imagination 

than sketched from nature. The bird which is seen 

under Vishnu in the Linga^mukham of Trach*Pho is 

natural like the bird that flies at the right-hand top over 

Brahma but lack the usual fineness of the Cham sculptor. 

Apsaras are quite noble and majestic wherever they 

appear in temple bases. Of fabulous or Puranic animals 

the Gajasimhamurti and Makara <excavated at Binh-Dinh 

recently) have a complicated look. The Makara belongs 

to a period when the Chinese dragon was making its 

influence felt in Champa. Garuda, another of the 

mythical creatures of the Hindus, has also been attempt* 

ed by the Cham but like its counterpart in the Indian 

archipelago has been associated with Siva and not with 

Vishnu. Another animal sculptured by the Cham artist 

is a monkey which along with an archer strongly reminds 

us of the epic character of Hanumana before his divine 

master Ramchandra. Serpents are rare as a motif which 

abounds in the Khmer country. A very few Sivamurtis 

have coils of these reptiles in the matted locks, or as 

armlets and yajnopavitas. 

The multiplicity of limbs in seen in a large number of 
images. The Nataraia image we saw at the niche 

Page twenty -four 


By the courtesy of M. Paul Mas 

By the courtesy'\of ^h^olc^ Fran^aise d'Ext%me Orient 


above the archway to the temple Chuk Ba Thap near 
Phan Rang <Skt. Panduranga) had six arms. Two of 
the emblems we could not distinguish from below/ 
perhaps they were folded in yogic mudra, the rest were 
Trisula, Kharga, Patra and Padma. There is a Durga- 
murti with ten hands, but the figure of Uma now in Khai 
Dinh museum has a mother's divine grace. There are 
no extra physical members and one of her palms as well 
the tip of her nose is broken. The remaining hand holds 
a lotus bud probably. Her eyes are closed in a trance 
and she is seated in a yogic ashana. Possibly she had 
ornaments in upper and lower arms but only traces are 
left. She wears a necklace which might well have been 
lotus plant entwined. Both her headgear and ear^pen* 
dants are too massive / perhaps the outer-ring of her 
mukuta was meant for heavenly lusture or jyoti. The 
bronze figure of Lakshmi we found elsewhere hailed from 
South India and the Yaksha ladies from Muthura and 
Sanchi. Like the gigantic Buddha murti of which the 
model still rests in the museum of Madras, these figures 
might have been the part of the spoils of Champa pirates. 
In this connection we shall do well to remember that the* 
Dakshinapatha did not alone influence the architecture but 
even Nepal had her share in the Somasutra discovered 
in one of the Buddhist shrines. This has been conclusive- 
ly proved by M. Claeys and Dr. Goloubew. 

It is suggested that the doctrine of Lord Tathagata 
preceded the Linga^cult of the saivites which became the 

Page twenty-five 


religion of Champa's sovereigns. There are shrines erect> 
ed at Dung^Duong, My^Due and Di*Huu in honour of 
Buddha. The first of these had a beautiful Pradakshina* 
patha with profuse illustrations in stones from the Jatakas. 
The names at least of the Indian Bhikkus who expounded 
doctrine of Gautama Siddhartha can still be ascertained 
with accuracy and we often come across the images of 
Avalokitesvara and Dhyani Amitava. The object of 
our rickshaw ride over a distance of 4 kilometres by the 
beautiful river strand from Hue was to visit the gigantic 
Buddhamurti in the pagoda of Limmu, where we were 
surprised to discover a trident in the hand of the Lord of 
the Buddhists. Perhaps Buddhism which ran contem- 
poraneously with Saivism borrowed some of its emblems. 
At Nah^trang we have found the image of Sakyamuni 
hiding the idol of Sri Bhagavati Kautharesvari, but one 
thing which we could not fail to notice was the absence 
of the linguistic influence of Pali. 

It is suggested that the Linga creed which eventually 
became the religion of Champa's sovereigns was intro^ 
duced after Buddhism had captured the mass. Did then 
the language of the Tripitakas pale before the splendour 
of Sanskrit which continued to be the court speech till the 
twelfth century? Or, did the Indian monks preach the 
esoterics of Nirvana in the tongue of the land ? All the 
eight petrographs of Po^Nagar covering a period from 
739 to 1153 A. D, were in the chastened idiom of the 
Indo* Aryans, under the aegis of which the Cham verna- 

Page twenty -six 


cular received a polished diction and grammatical forms 
as early as the ninth century to be employed for detailing 
the gifts to a temple, the names and social ranks of their 
donors. There is evidence of the great influence the 
Hindu epopees exerted on the Cham mind, for a poem 
on the Kaviguru's first outburst in slokas has been dis- 
covered. It does not therefore require a long stretch of 
imagination to conceive that the Cham literature drew 
largely upon Sanskrit dramas and Kavyas for its inspi* 
ration. We know the rituals were conducted later on in 
an adapted form and to put it to test, we asked a Hindu 
villager near Phan Rang to recite some mantras. There 
were Swahas and Swadhas certainly but the rest we 
could not catch for our ignorance of the Cham tongue. 

For the past of Champa the inscriptions of Mi^Son 
would be of enormous importance. Surrounded by lofty 
wooded hill, the Champa people thought that their glori* 
OLIS effort of Mi-Son would be safe from the spoliation of 
foreign foes, the only access to the place being the river 
Song Thu-bon. Perhaps it was only a summer residence 
of the monarch and not a temple. But their Hinduised 
notion could not tolerate that any of their activities 
should be exclusively materialistic in purpose. Beautiful 
brick carvings adorned its walls, where every niche was 
made a receptacle for an image in prayerful attitude. It 
was gorgeous conception and some of its relics preserved 
in the Louis-Finot museum display an exquisite taste of 
the builder. 

Page twenty-seven 


We cannot but say a few words on the last attempt 
of Champa in way of architecture. The excavations 
carried at Cha^ban which served as a stronghold for 
the final seat of the monarchs from the llth to the 
15th century have brought to light things of great 
interest, one of which is the Gajasimha murti mentioned 
above. Huge blocks of laterite bear witness to its being 
copiously utilised. The remains of towers demolished 
long ago by the Annamites indicate that stone 
dvarapalas kept guard side by side with armed Cham 
infantry. The peculiarity of these figures is that they are 
all painted in gaudy colours and we can imagine how the 
Annamese lacquer dye industry must have prospered 
when these images received their coats. 

If the Chams ever revive their ancient culture, they 
will have to thank the French whose artistic tempera* 
ment is equel to their zeal for reconstruction. What 
earned our admiration besides their efforts for piecing 
together a lost history out of laterite and brick debris, is 
their incomparable courtesy. Not only we had doors of 
museums and libraries open to us owing to the hospitable 
nature of the scholars like Dr. Goloubew, but we also 
received the kind attention of a Colonel without whose 
assistance our tour round the picturesque ruins round 
Nah^trang would have been impossible. 

Om Namah Sivaya 

Page twenty-eight