IKTT (Institute for Khmer Traditional Textiles), from SiemReap Cambodia
IKTT (Institute for Khmer Traditional Textiles), from SiemReap Cambodia

Abstract: Part 1: The Khmers and Cham, Historical Background and Main Artistic and Cultural Characteristics


Part 1: The Khmers and Cham, Historical Background and Main Artistic
and Cultural Characteristics

Session 1

“The Khmer and Cham, Each Character in Culture and Art ”

H.E. Son Soubert

Faculty of Archaeology, The Royal University of Fine Arts, Lecturer



Seminar on: “HOL”, the Art of Cambodian Textile,

organized by the Institute of Khmer Traditional Textile

with the Collaboration of the Center for Khmer Studies

Vat Damnak, Siem Reap, December 12-13, 2003

History between Lin-Yi, further Campa polity and Funan / Tchen-la/ Angkor polity
was not always that of wars and conflicts. The inter-influence between these
two nations is undeniable. The inscription of Vo Canh (C.40, South Vietnam)
the oldest in Cam area dating back to the second half of the 3th A.D, mentions
the great grand daughter of a monarch with the name of Srî Mâra, that Prof.
Jean Filliozat linked, through the tamil royal title, to a Southern Indian King
on the Coromandel coast(1). The inscription of Miso’n E6 by Prakâsadharma Vikrantavarman
recounted the historical origin of Cambodia with the legendary couple of Kaundinya
and Soma, the Nâga King’s daughter (2). This official version is coupled with
the legend told by the Chinese records, another source of the history of Hun-tien
and Lady Ye-ye (Coconut leaf) or Lieu-ye (Willow leaf) (3). Another legend pertaining
to the original couple is known in Khmer sources as Preah Thong-Neang Neak.
The Chinese records are also a source of information on Lin-yi/Campa, besides
the inscriptions. We are going to talk about a country under the name of Campa,
mentioned for the first time in two Sanskrit inscriptions, dated 658 A.D. found
in Central Vietnam, and 668 A.D. found in Cambodia. The corresponding Chinese
transliteration of Campapura is “Chan-Chéng”: the city of Chan, mentioned in
877 A.D. (4).

The relationship between Campa and Pre-Angkor Cambodia seems to be on a family
basis. A Cam Prince, Jaggaddharma, father of the future Prakâsadharma, from
the Gangârâjavamsa came to Bhavapura and got married with King Isanvarman I’s
daughter, Princess Sarvânî from the Somavamsa, in the 7th century (5). Whether
Jayavarman II came from Javâ or Campa to liberate Cambodia still remains a hypothesis
of work, but the circumstances around his return and the possible intervention
of Panduranga in Tchen-la by the Senâpati Pâr between 813 and 817 may have something
to do with him (6). But it became strained with the first time invasion in 950
A.D. by Angkor in the South of Campa (7). Despite pressure from the Diet-Viet,
since 982 (Coedès G., 1964, pp. 230-31) and again in 1021, 1026 and 1044, resulting
in the death of Cam King and unrest in Panduranga (Finot Louis, 1903, pp. 645-46),
Campa managed to successfully attack Cambodia in 1044 and 1080. After helping
the Khmer King, Suryavarman II, to attack the Dai-Viet, Campa reconciled with
the latter was attacked by the Khmers in 1145, resulting in the capture of Vijaya.
By 1149, it was liberated by the King of Panduranga who occupied the throne
of Vijaya amidst internal adversaries and contest from Amarâvatî and even Panduranga
for “his consecration as “King of Kings” at Vijaya”. The successor of that King
made a surprise attack on Angkor and killed its King in 1177 (Ma Touan Lin,
1883, p.557). A Khmer Prince, later crowned as King Jayavarman VII, saved the
situation and took revenge by capturing Vijaya and its king in 1190. After a
period of trouble and revolt in 1192, Campa was turned into a Khmer province
from 1203 until 1220… the conflicts thus ended between Campa and Cambodia.

These formerly fraternal polities turned into enemies has managed to preserve
their originality, though receiving mutual influence, during this period of
friendly and hostile co-existence. The influence from Java was, at several periods
of the history of Campa, also obvious. Cam art received in fact other influence
around, like Chinese and Đai-viet influence. Philippe Stern (Art du Champa et
Son Evolution, Paris 1942) in his study on the evolution of the Cam art and
architecture had already pointed out to this trend.


This period of Mis’on E1 style would approximately date from the 7th century
and be extended to the 8th century. The most quoted examples concern the Mis’on
E1 pediment of the reclining Visnu at the Danang Museum, the temple of Pho-Hai
or Pho-Sanu, the Mis’on E 1 pedestal of the Siva Linga, all compared to the
Prey Kmeng style of the 7th century (circa 640-645 A.D.), which according to
Jean Boisselier (Le Cambodge, Paris 1966, p.146) disappeared at the end of the
7th century. The other style next to Prei Kmeng is that of Kompong Preah, starting
beginning of the 8th century (8).

What differs from the Mis’on E1 pediment of the Recumbent Visnu and the Tuol
Baset pseudo-lintel (now at the Battambang Municipal Museum), is that the Brahma
seated on the Lotus flower gets out of the arcature framework and the whole
scene is flanked with 2 anthromorphic birds holding 2 serpents, that could be
assimilated to 2 Garudas, which exist also in the Pre-Angkor lintels of the
Phnom-Penh National Museum. Furthermore, the short plain sampot or skirt with
double fabric belts and front pocket of the Mis’on E1 pediment Visnu can be
compared to the sampot of the Avalokitesvara of Angkor Borei with a long falling
pocket and the triple clothe belts, also seen on the bas-reliefs of the lintel
of the Lingodbhavamûrti of Vat Eng Khna. Instead the Visnu of the Tuol Baset
lintel is depicted with pleated sampot, triple pockets in the front, and jeweled
belt, which we can compare to the Visnu statue of Prâsâd Andet, now at the National
Museum of Phnom-Penh.

Beside the Đa-nghi Visnu, already mentioned, we have another Tuy-Hoa Visnu,
the statue of which can match the Khmer model of the Pre-Angkor period, by the
technique of the support arch, in the Prei Kmeng style by the dress. The way
the God holds the Cakra and the Conch, especially the Cakra perpendicular to
the shoulder indicates some Indian model of the early period.

In terms of architecture, the southernmost Cam temple of Pho Hai or Pho Sanu
is also related to Khmer temple of Prey Kmeng period or Kompong Preah style.
It is a cross breed between Khmer art and Cam art. It is difficult to give details,
since the temple is quite worn out; the silhouette of the lintel looks like
a Khmer one dated from the pre-Angkor era.


We are still situated in the South of the Cam sphere with Pho-Hai and Hoa-lai,
and another temple called Po-Dam of the Hoa-lai style in the same region, whereas
Miso’n E1 is situated in the Northern sphere of Campa. According to Philippe
Stern, the Prâsâd Damrei Krap on the Phnom-Kulen in Cambodia would be the best
preserved Cam temple of that period and represent the transition between the
Ancient style of Miso’n E1 and Hoa-lai style, since the typical arcature of
Miso’n E1 style can still be found there. According to Philippe Stern again,
this temple was the work of Cam craftsmanship with Cam design, only the sandstone
doorframe and lintel are Khmer. It belongs to the Kulen style, dating back to
the end of the 8th century and beginning of Jayavarman II reign. Belonging to
this style, the temples of Trapeang Phong S2 and 3, of Prâsâd Prei Prâsâd at
Hariharalaya, of Ak Yum on the Western Baray with their bases are heavily charged
with decorations that may have received Cam influence. On the Phnom Kulen itself,
the Peam Kré temple may be one of the earliest monuments by its round column,
while its base is decorated with an arcature relating to Cam art with a decoration
similar to that of Mis’on F1 (9).

As far as the relief is concerned, we can make some comparison between the
Dvârapâla of the Hoa-lai temple, in ruined condition today, and those of Preah
Kô temple, either with the dress or the jewelry. The difference resides in the
position with a bending knee for the Cam model and much more upright one for
the Khmer model.


We cannot compare the Đong-duang style with any other of the Angkorian period
style. It seems for many observers that this style is typically Cam, although
some indications of that this is a Javanese model could be found in the attitude
of the personages of the Buddhist iconography.

According to Philippe Stern, as a reaction to the Đong-duang exaggeration of
vermiculated decoration, Khu’o’ng-my art is considered as part of the end of
the Đong-duang style and beginning of the Mis’o’n A1 style, adopting some of
the Khmer influence in the decorative motives, which are of 3 kinds (10).

In summary, the Khmer influences on Khu’o’ng-my temples cannot be dated prior
to the middle of the 9th century.


This Khmer influence is also noted on the superstructure of Hu’ng-thanh kalan
and on the Thap-mam sculptures. Hu’ng-Thanh imitates Angkor-Vat tower, but in
the Cam way. The angle motifs below the superstructure, in the form of garuda
with raised arms are Khmer in facture, as we can see the library of the end
of Angkor Vat style, and at the enclosure of Preah Khan at Angkor, dating back
to the first part of the Bayon style (11).


It is not an easy task to compare the dresses and hair-dresses, between these
two civilizations. If we consider the Khmer expression of art, which deals mostly
with the Gods, since even the Kings and Queens can lend as models to the physical
gods’ representations, we can notice that the Khmer art tends to the idealization
of physical beauty. Instead, naturalism prevails in Cam art, even in the Miso’n
E1 and A1 styles. We are struck by the natural ugliness and purposeful awkwardness
of the Đong-du’o’ng style, which dealt mostly with Buddhist iconography. The
awe inspired by the Đong-du’o’ng Dvârapâlas is owed to this exaggerated naturalism
and realism, in which the Chinese influence of the Ta’ng era may be speculated

I will conclude with the presentation of two more statues of Lord Ganesha,
one at the Danang Museum (8th century) with two arms, found at Miso’n B3 temple,
and the other one of the National Museum of Phnom-Penh, from Tuol Pheak Kin
(Kandal Provine), both seated in the same vajrâsan (looser one for the Khmer
model) fashion with the frontal third eye, which for the Khmer Ganesha is a
lozenge one, often used in Campa of the Đong-duang period. There stops the comparison,
for the Khmer model is much more naturalistic and devoid of any decoration as
the Cam model… The way the Cam deity is seated, crossed legs under, at the later
period, like the Siva of Yang Mum (15th century), can also be seen in the Khmer
post-Bayon period.

We purposely omit to talk about other influences on Cam art, like those of
the Dvâravatî sculpture at Prah Pathom, as well as Annamese art with the end
of the Dong-duang vermiculated exaggeration and with Thap-mam. The obvious influence
from India in some decorative motifs, like the kudus of the 6-8th centuries
at Kañcîpuram and Bahur with its lion head, and from Java throughout the Cam
periods, especially at the Miso’n A1 style. The Chinese influence dealt not
only with art, but also with technical warfare and weaponry (13).

May the Lord Remover of Obstacles, Ganesha, grant this Conference all the successes,
all of you deserve.

SON Soubert,

Professor at the Faculty of Archaeology (Phnom-Penh)

Member of the Constitutional Council of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

President of the SON Sann Foundation.

(1) Vo Canh inscription:

CŒDÈS, George, 1940 "The date of the sanscrit inscription of Vo-canh",
The Indian Historical Quarterly
16 (3), pp. 484-488.
BHATTACHARYA, Kamaleswar, 1961, "Précisions sur la paléographie de l'inscription dite de Vo-canh",
Artibus Asiae 24 (3-4), pp. 219-224.
GASPARDONE, Émile, 1965, "L'inscription de Vo-canh et les débuts du sanskrit en Indochine",
Sinologica 8 (3), pp. 129-136.
FILLIOZAT, Jean, 1969, "L'inscription dite de "Vo-canh",
BEFEO 55, pp. 107-116
JACQUES, Claude, 1969, "Note sur la stèle de Vo-Canh",
BEFEO 55, pp. 117-124
LUONG NINH, 1980, "Bia Vo-canh", Khao Cô Hoc 3, pp. 63-65.

(2)- Finot, Louis: Les inscriptions de Miso’n, III, lgines 16-18, BEFEO IV,
pp. 896-977, stele found near Miso’n E6 (in. Coed. C96), Face B, prose (l.14);
VI, BEFEO IV, p.928 sqq., ruined stele found near Miso’n B1 (Insc.Coed. C.81),
Face B, ll. 11-12.

(3)- Pelliot, Paul: “Le Fou-nan”, BEFEO, 3, 1903, p.256; The History of the
Southern Qui gave Liu-ye “Willow Leaf”, but the dynastic histories vary for
Ye-ye “Coconut Leaf”.

(4)- Coedès, Georges, E.H.I.I., p.209

(5)- Finot, Louis: Les inscriptions de Miso’n (op.cit.), p.896.

(6)- Finot, Louis: Inscriptions de Quãng-nam, Première stèle de Dong-du’o’ng,
Face B, st. VI, BEFEO IV, p.84 sqq. (in. Coed. 66);

Dupont, Pierre: Etudes sur l’Indochine ancienne, II, Les Débuts de la Royauté
Angkorienne, BEFEO XLIV, p.119 sqq; Tchen-la et Pânduranga, BSEI, nlle série,
XXIV, I (1949, 1er trim.), p.9 sqq.

7- Coedès, Georges: 1964, pp. 230-31.

8- By comparison with the Battambang Tuol Baset lintel of the same subject
as the Cam pediment, French Scholars, such as Jean Boisselier, could date the
Cam pediment to Prei Kmeng style. The subject is known in the Hindu iconography
as Visnu Anantasayin, when Lord Visnu sleeps on the Eternity Nâga “Ananta” during
the end of one kalpa and the birth of another one in this case the Lotus era,
which is our era, when Lord Brahma sprang forth from Lord Visnu navel, seated
on a lotus flower. Although this theme is quite frequent in Khmer Art, before
and during Angkor time, Vaisnava iconography is rather accidental in Cam art.
Rare also are the standing Visnu images in the round, as we can see in the one
from Đa-Nghi, possibly from the 8th century, crowned with a head-dress made
of mukuta held up by a diadem ornamented with 3 fleurons, above which is an
onion-shaped octagonal chignon”. This description fits with that of the reclining
Visnu of the Tuol Baset lintel, while the Mis’on E1 Visnu, which seems to be
un-finished did not have a diadem with fleurons. Further the Đa-Nghi Visnu wears
a jeweled belt as on the Tuol Baset reclining Visnu. Another lintel of Visnu
Anantasayin of the ruined temple of Pho Tho village (Quang Ngai province) with
4 arms, the full hood of the Nâga seen with the 7 heads, the front right hand
supporting the head, as well as the fleuron on the diadem, and the position
of the legs reveal more resemblance with the Tuol Baset lintel. Although the
Pho Tho lintel did not have any arch, the 2 flowers-like medallions on both
sides recall also the 2 medallions of the Tuol Baset lintel, but hidden by 2
flying figures in añjali, as these medallions can be seen on the Phnom Bathê
Prâsâd Svay Preahm lintel of the same style, with the external arch curved in
and the external one curved out, noticeable also at Sambaur Prei Kuk, as Philippe
Stern had pointed out for Mis’on E1 style, especially with the small arcature
of the famous buff sandstone Pedestal of the same temple.

9- As a Cam craftsmanship, the temple of Damrei Krap offers Cam features for
its pilasters, its superstructures and false doorframes arches, its cornice
with atlantes, even its tympanum as well as all its brick decoration. In the
same line, the temples of Kting Slap and Phnom Sruoch, both collapsed today,
may be the Khmer copies de Damrei Krap. Again on the Phnom Kulen the Neak Ta
temple is Khmer for its plan and sandstone parts, but Cam with its wall decorations
of reduced edifices similar to those over the pilasters of the Hoa-lai Southern
temple, both quite ruined. The hanging stones of Neak Ta temple and the roofing
horns at Kting Slap temple look close to Cam motives, as noted Pierre Dupont
(BEFEO, XXVII, 2, pp.668-670).

Finally, the passage from the round small column to the octagonal one on the
temples seems to take place about the same time for the Khmer and Cam art. Before
Damrei Krap, the central group of Sambaur Prei Kuk temples, as well that of
Peam Kré, was already endowed with octagonal small columns. At Damrei Krap,
the small sandstone columns are octagonal and Khmer, although those in brick
of the false doors “have the mass and the silhouette of the Cam small columns
and remain round”. Therefore at the Cam style of Hao lai, of a more recent period
than Damrei Krap, the small columns are octagonal, but with Cam mouldings and


  1. Motive of face leaves, typically Khmer at the Kulen style, at the end of
    which this motive bears a trefoil decoration, like at Thmar Dap before 850
    A.D. and constantly employed at the end of 9th century and the first half
    of the 10th century (Preah Kô 879 AD, Phnom-Krom between 900 and 910 A.D.,
    Banteay Srey 967 A.D.). At Preah Kô and Phnom Krom, the decorations are nearly
    identical to those of Khu’o’ng-my. “Between these leaves fall hanging the
    flower pendentives on foliage, in the shape of a lotus flower with pointed
    petals exactly like in the Khmer art (see Phnom-Krom), floral form which did
    not seem to be employed until then in the Cam art”… Usually, this decorative
    motive runs as a short frieze at the top of the small pilasters that are on
    the side of the false door of the protruding body of the Southern sanctuary-tower
    of Khu’o’ng-my.

  2. The motives of lozenges and leafy triangles, similar to those of the Hoa-lai
    style, which usually decorate the central part of the pilasters, are found
    at the same Khu’o’ng-my southern sanctuary. Nevertheless, “the separation
    between the lozenges and the triangles is marked by a moulding in relief,
    which did not exist in the Hoa-lai style, but figured already in the Cam art
    of the Mis’on E1 pedestal”… But the decoration of lozenges arranged with a
    central flower motive framed vertically and horizontally with 4 other floral
    motives on stems and especially the 4 oblique lotus flowers between them.
    This motive arrangement was found at Preah Kô (879 A.D.), before Khu’o’ng-my;
    however it did not appear before the end of the Kulen style, and was much
    employed at Preah Kô and at the end of 9th century, and lasting until the
    10th century.

  3. The motive hung on a horizontal bar, high placed and distinct from the upper
    part of the frieze, hanging by one of the crosier ends. This motive appears
    on the frieze of the same southern tower sanctuary of Khu’o’ng-my. It is exactly
    the Khmer decoration of the 9th and 10th centuries. We can notice the Khmer
    influence by the “trefoil motive which, at Khu’o’ng-my and on the Khmer prototype,
    follows the hanging crosier”, as we can see at the stucco decoration of Preah
    Kô (879 A.D.). This motive did not appear at Thmar Dap, but only in the middle
    of the 9th century and mostly used at the end of the 9th century and the first
    half of the 10th century, for the last time at Banteay Srey (967 A.D.).

11- After Hu’ng-thanh, the Ivory towers or Đu’o’ng-long are built on the plan
of Khmer temples, with the decoration of foliation motives in the Thap-mam style
on the lintels, arranged in the Khmer lintels manner usually centered with a
Kâla at the lower part, spitting large rolls of foliages curving in both senses,
dating back to the second and third period of the Bayon style. This kind of
lintel can be seen at the Southern Sanctuary of the Ivory Towers and at Thap-mam.
On the pediment decoration of the serpent/nâga, the arrangement of it is Cam
in manner, while the head of the serpent lifted in the angles is Khmer. Likewise,
the motive of garuda with raised arms is Khmer, but the expression of it is
Cam in facture: we found this motive already at Hu’ng-thanh and Thap-mam. Furthermore,
the representation of angle lion or garuda of Khmer influence is to be found
at the bases of the Ivory Towers, those of Thap-mam and Miso’n G1, the one of
the Vo-than tomb being an awkward copy of a Khmer lion.

Other details in stone decorations refer also to the Khmer influence: such
as the personages with pointed beard at Thap-mam recalling the Khmer Rsis of
later styles; the falling in an anchor-shape of the dress of a dancing figure
looks like a copy of the same type in the Bayon style; more typical is the double
flapped border of the dress in form of lotus petals, surrounding the waist,
so frequently represented in Khmer art since the Angkor-Vat style. Finally in
the architectural setting, the insertion of sandstone decoration in the brick-wall
mass, at the Ivory Towers, is also testimony of the Khmer influence, when usually
the Cam kalans are entirely in brick. According to Philippe Stern, “it is possible
also that during the transition period between the Miso’n A1 and Binh-dinh styles,
the appearance of X motives at Miso’n E4 and of narrative lintels at Miso’n
E4 and Chanh-lô is due to the action of the Khmer art, as well as the disposition
in tiers of the base of the Ivory Towers, comparable to the Khmer Mountain-temple”.

12- The fashion in the hair-dress can be compared for the early style of Miso’n
E1 and Pre-Angkor period, especially for the jatâ-mukuta of the asetics/Rsis,
dressed in a bun or chignon type of plaited hair, as we can see on the pedestal
of Miso’n E1 or on the Lingodbhava lintel of Vat Eng Khna. The same hair-dress
became more complicated, since for the gods, it is knot into 2 or 3 parts, with
the falling locks on both sides in the loop-shape at the level of the knots,
as we can see on the Siva statues of Miso’n C1 and E4. This fashion evolves
later curly tufts of hair on both sides of the knots, without coming out of
the knots as before like for the Deva of Miso’n B group or the Dvârapâla from
Trakieu… Besides the Jatamukuta, we have the Kirita-mukuta, which is properly
a head cover or crown. Similar to the convention used in Cambodia, the Jata-mukuta
is usually adapted to the hair-dress of God Siva, while the Kirita-mukuta would
cover Lord Visnu head, as we can see on the head of the Đa-Nghi Visnu. Some
Kirita-mukuta of the Tra-kieu period, especially for the female dancers of the
Tra-kieu pedestal, are hair retainers or made hollow to let the hair seen.

There is no point of comparison with the Khmer fashion of hair-dresses, except
for the Pre-Angkor period, concerning the ascetics. Otherwise for the main deities,
the jata-mukuta is reserved conventionally to Lord Siva in the shape of the
cylindrical Kirita-mukuta of Lord Visnu, since sometimes the combination of
Hari-Hara obligated the chignon of Siva to be the half part of the cylinder,
as we can see on the Hari-Hara of Prâsâd Andet. It seems to our knowledge that
there is no representation of Hari-Hara in the Cam art. But at the Angkor-Vat
style, the Kirita-mukuta of Visnu is no more cylindrical, but made of tiara,
which is worn by Siva and other deities also, and a conical head cover. The
jata-mukuta of Hara, in the Hari-Hara representation, is made in the same fashion
than the Cam hair-dress, with plaited chignon and the loop-shape tufts in all
directions, but not on both sides of the knots as in the Cam art. The hair-dress
of the Devi of Koh-Krieng presents more similarity with the Cam fashion, but
again the loop hair-tufts are spread all around, except in the front part. The
Siva hair-dress of Bakong-Roluos is cylindrical chignon with small loop-tufts
spread all around, the whole retained by a diadem. This hair-dress became with
the Umamahesvara of Banteay Srei, an enrolled string of hair plaits disposed
in circle to form a chignon, the whole also retained by the diadem.

As a general remark for the fashion of the deities way of dressing, the difference
between the Cam and the Khmer expressions, is that the Cam used skirt, dhoti
or sampot with flower patterns or other decorative pattern, while the Khmer
mostly used plain fabric without any pattern, except for the Angkor-Vat and
Bayon styles, in which, whether influenced by the Cam or not, the flower patterns
appeared. There are two ways of arranging the lower dress: one is plain smooth
fabric, surely the today type of Pha-muong, i.e. silk sampot, the other one
is the pleated skirt or sampot chang Kben. The first type is usually found during
the Pré-Angkor and Kulen and Preah Kô styles period, where the pleats are obtained
from the way the dress was tied, while the second one is often used during the
Angkor period, where the dress was pleated into small pieces, before wearing.
The Cam have these 2 types, and they add a third one consisting, especially
ladies, of 2 skirts wearing one upon another as we can see on the statue of
the Mahisasuramardini of the Guimet Museum, or the Deity of Dong-phuc, or the
bronze statue of the Danang Municipal Museum, identified as Tara of Đong-duang
style. The fourth type may be the pans worn by the Tra-kieu female dancers,
tightly stuck to the body and quite thin and transparent, which was also the
fashion in Southern India, possibly Tamil-nadu of the same period.

13- Finally a mysterious piece of sculpture from An-My, now at the Danang Museum,
identified as an Ogre of late 10th century, with another female counterpart
hair-dressed with a kind of fabric head cover or turban. I do not believe them
to be an ogre, but rather local deities. The heavy round earrings are similar
to those of the Garuda of the Miso’n E1 lintel, believed to come from model
of Gandhara, Central Asia and South-India. The way, the head cover is tied into
a topknot, looks very much like the one of the Pre-Angkor standing Siva of the
Phnom-Penh Museum. This fashion may come from China, and the curly hair under
a diadem can be compared to the Tra-kieu Yaksha of the Danang Mueseum, or the
Heads and Bust of the Hanoi Museum, found at Phú-ninh or Tam-ký, which have
the same huge earrings, dated by Jean Boisselier to around the 6th century.
The front cockade is an interpretation of the Indian traditional cockade used
for the turban at Mathurâ, Gandhara and Central Asia arts, and here in the form
of a flower. The necklace in form of a large plate contains floral designs similar
in pattern to those of the Miso’n E1 pedestal, and can be compared to those
born by some Bodhisatva from Gandhara.

Session 2

“Reciprocal Relations of Khmer and Cham in History”

Prof. Michael Vickery

Historian, South East of Asia

Relations between Cambodia and Champa


I. What was Champa?

Champa no longer exists as a separate entity. There was an officially recognized
Champa (recognized by China, Vietnam and Cambodia) under that name along parts
of the coast of what is now central and southern Vietnam from at least the 7th
century until the early 19th century (illustration-map of total area).

That total area was never politically unified. There were always at least two
Champas, sometimes three, or even four, located along the mouths of large rivers
flowing from the mountains eastward to the Pacific Ocean. When Champa history
begins Vietnam did not exist politically, and the area which would become Vietnam
after the 10th century was a province of China. (illustrations)

From North to South the most important centers of Champa recognized from their
architectural remains were (illustrations of architecture from each site): Mi
So’n, with inscriptions from the 5th century and architecture from the 7th or
8th; Qui Nho’n, perhaps from the 11th century, with architecture from the 12th-14th
centuries; Nha Trang, with its temple of Po Nagar containing structures and
inscriptions from perhaps the 7th or 8th centuries; Phan Rang, with three important
temples dating from the 8th to 16th centuries and several inscriptions; and
Phan Thiet, with a temple of peculiar style which I shall discuss further in
a moment. These dates show simultaneous development in at least three different

II. A Summary of the history of Champa

The standard history of Champa begins with Chinese records of a country called
Lin Yi just north of the Vietnamese city of Hué, and which the Chinese complained
was constantly attacking northward against the Chinese province which is now
northern Vietnam. The Chinese kept writing about Lin Yi until 758, and did not
start using the name ‘Champa’ until 877, but Cambodian and Champa inscriptions
used the name ‘Champa’ from the 7th century, and probably Lin Yi was separate
from Champa and farther north.

The language of the Cham people belongs to the group of languages called ‘Austronesian’
like Javanese and Malay. The Cham probably came by sea to the coast of Vietnam
around 2500 years ago from Borneo/Kalimantan. Before they arrived the populations
of what is now Vietnam spoke Mon-Khmer languages. During several hundred years
the Cham spread along the coast and into the interior.

After Vietnam separated from China in the 10th century direct relations developed
between new Vietnam and Champa. Sometimes the relations were peaceful, but often
there was warfare, which often began with attacks by Champa northward against
Vietnam. Slowly, during several centuries, the wars resulted in expansion of
Vietnam to the South. The most serious permanent defeat for the Cham was the
Vietnamese capture of Qui Nho’n in 1471. A small kingdom of Champa, however,
continued to exist in the South until the early 19th century.

III. Relations between Cambodia and Champa

A. Political relations

The Chinese wrote about contacts between Lin Yi and Funan, but since the history
of Lin Yi is very vague, and I shall ignore that now.

The first records real records are from the 7th century, a Cambodian inscription
which tells of an official going on to Champa, and a Champa inscription in Mi
So’n which says a Cham prince went to Cambodia and married a daughter of King
navarman. Thus relations then were friendly.

Later records from both sides show that relations became increasingly unfriendly.
Champa inscriptions record a successful invasion of Cambodia in the early 9th
century, and on the Cambodian side an inscription says that at about the same
time a son of King Jayavarman II fought successfully against the Cham. In the
middle of the 10th century there are again records of war on both sides. One
hundred years later, near the end of the 11th century, inscriptions in Mi So’n
record more victories over Cambodia.

The balance of power changed during the reigns of the Cambodian kings Sryavarman
II (1113?-1145?) and Jayavarman VII (1181-1220?). Both of them successfully
conquered, Vijaya (Qui Nho’n) and Pauraga (Phan Rang), and under Jayavarman
Champa was ruled by Cambodia for over 20 years.

After Jayavarman VII Champa was preoccupied with relations with Vietnam, and
there are no more records of contacts with Cambodia until one Champa inscription
about war in the 15th century.

B. Cultural relations

Several Cambodian inscriptions in the 7th century include Cham official and
religious titles, proving close relations between the two peoples, and possibly
a minority Cham population in southeastern Cambodia.

The ‘Cham’ tower of Phan Thiet, one of the oldest monuments in Champa, shows
a mixture of Cham and Khmer architectural styles which makes it difficult to
say whether it is really Cham or Khmer. (illustrations)

The earliest Cambodian temples in the Kulen style, perhaps 9th century, show
influences from Cham architecture (illustrations).

The monuments in Qui Nho’n show influences from Khmer architecture during the
time when Cambodia conquered Champa in the 12th century.

Jayavarman VII spent many years in Champa, and his new Mahayana Buddhism may
have been influenced by Cham Buddhism.

C. Modern Cham weaving

There is an important center of Cham weaving in Phan Rang (illustrations).

Session 3

“Cham Influence in Cambodian Performing Arts”

H. E. Pich Tum Kravel

Under Secretary of State, Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts


Scholars and researchers have made significant remarks on Yike art performance.
According to sources, some conclude that Yike originated in Java, while others
argue it started off in Malaya. However, Yike art performance has been deeply
absorbed in the hearts and minds of Cambodian people and society.

By means of important documents, made available by scholars and researchers,
as clues, and based on certain facts that I have experienced myself, I would
like to try to give some thoughts on the source of Yike art performance, putting
more emphasis on the Yike drum, a kind of a musical instrument which is a main
tool of such forms of theatrical art, accompanied by some historic events.

Yike is a traditional play encompassing singing and dancing, which has gained
massive popularity in Cambodia. Currently, this form of art is widely seen almost
everywhere throughout the country, for example: Siem Reap - Kompong Cham - Pursat
- Kompong Chhnang - Svay Rieng - Takeo - Kompot provinces etc.

To Cambodian people, as soon as the word 'Yike' is heard, they immediately recall
this well-known singing and dancing drama. To put it directly, hearing that
word reminds them at once of a kind of drum made of drilled wood or palm tree
chopped into round, short pieces with a diameter wider than its thickness. Only
one end (the face) is covered with a well-cut piece of ox skin, which could
be thick or thin according to the size of the "Yike drum".

In general, Cambodian people use two similar words that refer to the names of
two different forms of drama: Yike and Yuke. The word "Yike" is currently
used by Cambodians to refer to the current form of "Yike" drama while
the word "Yuke" is used by Cambodian minorities living in the Southern
part of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (Khmer Kraom or lower Khmer) to refer
to a kind of drama called Lakhon Bassak that currently exists in Cambodia.

- During the reign of Isandravarman I, son of Citrasena, the king of Champa
named "Jagadhadharma" came to Cambodia and married his daughter named

- During his reign, Jayavarman II liberated Khmers from Java and came to announce
the country's independence at Mahidravarpata known as "Kulen Mountain"
in 802 A.D, denouncing Sailindras as the ruler of Cambodia.

- The events of 1177 when Champa defeated Angkor, and other events during the
reign of Jayavarman VII, and so on and so forth, could all be used as proof.

- Based on pictorial evidence and "ties of friendship" over centuries,
we believe that many exchanges were made between the two countries involving
various sectors, including cultures, of which Yike was a small part. Moreover,
relationships in the form of family links through marriages between the Chams
and Khmers were testimony to the bringing together or mixing of the traditions,
customs and cultures of the two nations in which Yike had a small part. Furthermore,
we believe that these relationships, although formed in "war" times,
still managed to develop because normally, in war, both armed forces and psychology
were used, in which the arts played an important role, and the arts always turned
around, whereby the side that did well in the war forced the weak to accept.
Or the dominant party sometimes had to absorb the culture of the defeated nation
because the culture of the latter is richer and more advanced.

We also believe, based on the long term relationships between the two nations
that were full of creativity and passed from generation to generation of our
ancestors, that the Yike drum, which was a sacred instrument used for traditional
rituals such as spirits dance-offering in Brahmanism or wedding ceremonies and
which later became a sacred instrument for Muslims of the Cham community when
Cambodian farmers came to replicate it, and Yike, became a form of theatrical
performance where performers sat in a circle so that viewers could see from
all corners as a way to promote Brahmanism or Buddhism in Cambodia by playing
various Jatakas (Buddha's life stories). Little by little, this form of art
advanced and came to be characterized as a genuine Khmer art, and subsequently
the popularity of such a form of art expanded among Cambodian farmers, who copied
it. From day to day, they would press it towards Khmer features by changing
it from being used as a holy drum in traditional wedding ceremonies, Hinduism,
and the Muslim rituals of the Chams, into a form of theatrical show in which
Jatakas were played as a way to promote Brahmanism and Buddhism in Cambodia.
Lastly, this art form gained enormous popularity, up to the present time, as
a way of presenting the problems of Cambodian people and their daily lives,
and to seek solutions by posing questions and responses.

update : 2004年09月13日 09:31

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