From Champa to Nguyen: the archaeology of central Vietnam

We are now inviting paper presentation proposals for the 2nd SEAMEO SPAFA International Conference in Southeast Asian Archaeology. Presentations are meant to be 15-20 minutes long (depending on the panel’s convener). Proposals will be assessed and accepted until February 2016.
Anne-Valérie Schweyer

Do Truong Giang
Institute for Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS), Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences (VASS)

This panel suggests a pooling of studies on two provinces of Central Vietnam. The history of each territory is conditioned by its geography and different perspectives will enrich the political, economic or religious knowledge that we already have. This panel aims to shed light on the regional importance of this particular coastal region. The occupants of the time of Champa kingdoms and the Nguyen Lords, in relation with the Highland populations, have all left their mark on this territory. By bringing together the imprints of these different pasts, we shall be able to reconstruct the process of settlement of the whole plain (around the Huong, Bô, Ô Lâu, Giang/Quang Tri and Ben Hao rivers) and thus better understand the construction of the region through these historical eras. By choosing these two important eras of central Vietnam history, the panel’s papers might shed new light on the historical continuity and discontinuity of this region in two different (but successive) periods of time. Continue reading

The Early History of the Eastern Part of the Southeast Asian Mainland

I recently received a copy of a new book entitled Ancient Vietnam: History, Art and Archaeology by Anne-Valérie Schweyer, a French scholar whose specialty is Cham epigraphy. It was published by River Books in Bangkok.

River Books has published some very nice volumes which are essentially “travel guides for educated people.” They are beautifully illustrated books which contain historical and cultural information about places in Southeast Asia, and they usually include references and a bibliography so that even scholars can find them useful.

Shweyer’s work unfortunately does not contain references or a bibliography. It also contains some embarrassingly out-dated information, such as the claim that “the term Việt refers to an ethnic group, probably coming from southern China around the beginning of the Christian era.” So the book has its weaknesses.

However, it also has a great strength, and that is that it is “Cham centric.”

Continue reading

The Birth of Champa

Anne-Val´erie Schweyer

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAJ3AAAAJGZkODE2NmM1LTU4OGItNDc2ZC1hNzc4LWM2Y2M0MzM2NTc0ZgThis paper will attempt to illuminate what was meant by Linyi and Champa. If it can be shown that there were polities on the lower middle coast of today’s Vietnam before the words ‘Cham’ or ‘Champa’ appear in inscriptions and we should be able to clarify the precise birthdate of ‘Champa’. We must rely on Chinese texts and archaeological and epigraphic traces. Researching these sources tends to define the Cham area as a mosaic of different territories rather than a unified territory strung along the coast. Thus Linyi and Champapura were distinct territories, among others, which had existed since Austronesians first settled the coastal valleys of Vietnam.

Access the full paper here:

Buddhism in Čampā

Anne-Valérie Schweyer

img-6-small480Čampā is a Far East country, whose Māhāyana Buddhism is known from 7th to 14th century. In fact, Sanskrit and Cam Inscriptions mostly attested Tantric practices, belonging to the Vajrāyana Buddhism, mixing Śaiva and Buddhist believes. More precisely, side by side Śiva and the three Buddha’ emanations, Śākyamuni, Amitābha and Vairocana, are honoured in Čampā, alone with the Goddess Prajñāpāramitā, the true substance of the Doctrine, and, secondary, with Vajrapāni, Lokeśvara and Vajrasattva. The confrontation of the epigraphic testimonies with the archaeological remains is very useful to understand the Buddhism of Čampā, crossroads of trade roads between India and China. Therefore, epigraphic and artistic evidences are used to propose a chronological presentation, with a special development on the revival of the 10th century, and especially, the esoteric way.

View the full paper here: