PO ROMÊ TOWER, PANDURANGA (Ninh Thuan Province)

Author: Dave Paulson

Constructed during the 17th century, Po Romê is the last major tower built during the #Champa civilization, which spread throughout central Vietnam from the 2nd to 19th centuries. Archeologists and contemporary architects are still confounded by the indigenous #engineering of these structures (cf. Hardy et al. 2009). The main entrance faces east, a sacred direction for the Cham, and is adorned with the statue of #Shiva. This particular tower was built for worshipping King Po Romê (1627—1651), who is accredited by some for introducing the notions of Aheir and Awal into Cham cultural #philosophy (Yasuko 2010). Built in sun-dried red-brick clay, these famous towers endure into the present and function as holy sites for contemporary religious practice. Continue reading

THE CHAM’S FIRST HIGHLAND SOVEREIGN: PO ROMÉ (R. 1627-1651)

William Noseworthy (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

ABSTRACT
From 1627 to 1651, a member of the highland Austronesian Churu peoples, Po Romé, ruled over the lowland Austronesian Champeoples’ kingdom of Panduranga (now Khánh Hòa, Bình Thuan, and Ninh Thuan provinces in Viet Nam). Po Romé has been referred to asthe ‘Charlemagne’ of Cham studies (Bruckmayr, 2013), indicative ofhis importance in larger understandings of the Cham and their role inSoutheast Asian history. The Cham have generally been understoodas a lowland people who brought highland peoples into their culturalsphere through conquest and trade. Scott (2009) has recentlycritiqued such simplistic presentations of the ‘civilizing’ of thehighlands, and argued for a more nuanced understanding of highlandidentity. However, one conspicuous absence in Scott’s portrayal is anexamination of highland-lowland relations through the biographiesof figures such as Po Romé. I argue that an examination of Po Romé’s life and its ethnographic and historiographic contexts deepens our understanding of upland peoples and Cham history.
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