The East Sea World and the Connection of Champa and Indian Culture

Luong Ninh, Ph.D.


   11811510_10153505929963399_562035184949002325_nAfter  the Discovery of  Sa Huynh Culture  which provided  us with  knowledge of the   relation between  this Culture and   the one  existing  in the East Sea, even far across ocean-the Malayo-Polynesians, The  Community  of that was of master of Sa Huynh Culture  could be  Population   constituting  the State of Champa, also of Malayo-Polynesian speakers, called the Chams,  considered  themselves the owner-master of State Champa. So were the Chams coming into the desert? Were they the unique population on the shore, the only people of Champa? No. What was other Population? The first question to be addressed.

In the ancient area of Champa, one can find   many vestiges, such as kalan (Temple), of brick, Stelae written in Sanskrit and ancient Cham, a lot of Deity statues of stone, sculptural pictures all originated from prototype of Indian Art School.  Was India the single partner of Champa? No, there was also China. There were a lot of Chinese productions and a quantity of money in Archaeological Museum. The 2nd question to be proposed. So, is it occurred a choice of “Partner”?  What was the causality? The feeling of love or hate?  Willingly or pressure? This is the 3rd Issue to be proposed and to deliberate.

 This paper presents respectively the Mode and the Processes of Indian Cultural Influences to the local People on the shore of the present Vietnam, constituting the State of Champa and Funan in 3 stages-in the North Champa, in the South, and the Connection of Indian Culture coming from the Andaman Sea to the East Sea in Pacific, with the local People -Vnam, Bnam-nowadays: Mnong Gar, Penongs in the South of West Highland of Vietnam. The Mode and the Processes of 3 stages of Indian Cultural Influences in   the North Champa, South Champa and Funan, trying to explain the issues proposed.


  1. The Local People and Their Community on the shore of the present Vietnam

            From the Stone Age, the local Communities lived along the shore.  The Katuic lived in the North, in the present-day provinces from Quang Binh to Hue, the Ho Reic in the provinces from Quang Nam to Binh Dinh and   the Mnong and Maa in the South.   Today, they are all minorities speaking Austro-Asiatic (denominated ancient Mon-khmer) or Proto Indochinois (Olivier, 1968) or Proto Mon (Luong Ninh, 2002) languages.  About the 5th century BCE, some groups of Seamen who were ethnic MalayoPolynesians or Austronesians– the Raglai, Jarai, Churu, Edeh, Rhadeh – all the Orang laut (Seamen)  who came from the sea and settled on the shore to form the Sa Huynh Culture by co-inhabiting and conflating with the Austroasiatic people which resulted in a new population base. In thís Population, the MalayoPolynesians-the Sea Men took a dynamic role and a faculty of linkage of different groups on the shore, and the connection with the foreigners, becoming the pioneers in the struggle for forming the State Lin yi-Champa. From that time, they became the Community of Champa- the Chams speaking Malayo Chamic or Cham language.

The basic community, formed by the merge of these two population groups, settled on the shores of present Vietnam.  They consisted of the local Austro-asiatic or Proto-Indochinois and the Malayo-Polynesians or Austronesians who emigrated from the Sea in ca. 500 BCE.

At the beginning of CE, the local Communities of this merged population along the coast still lived at the level of a tribal society.  However, they were on their way to develop Agriculture, change production and deploy their navigation skills along the coast; thus, enlarging their relationships and advancing their society.  They needed to connect with a higher culture, to learn the alphabet, to read and write, to know how to organize the state and, to revere God and deities as devotees.

            Between higher and lower cultural levels, it is unreasonable to assess the interactive relationships but the pervading influence and the cultural adaptation.

            But at that beginning time, the northern realm was conquered by the troops of the Chinese Han dynasty, including the area of the present provinces extending from Quang Binh to Hue and to Binh Dinh.  In that period, some areas of North and South India developed trade activities with the Arab world by navigating to the west and with the East Sea world to the East.  Thus, the people of the communities along the coast of Vietnam knew both Chinese and Indians.

            In the archaeological site of Go Cam, near Tra Kieu, south of Da Nang City, vestiges of an agglomeration and a market have been discovered.  At this site, a number of potsherds with checked pattern, most likely pieces from Chinese Han pottery, and a Han clay seal were uncovered in 2002.  Also a number of Indo-Roman potsherds, glass earrings of Indian origin, and several artefacts of bronze and iron were found nearby.  It can be said, from these finds, that the coastal communities were very familiar with and had a clear understanding of the people and the traders from India and China.

 The local People and Chinese Authority

            From 111 BCE to 192 CE, the Chinese Han troops conquered and dominated the area of Ri Nan, establishing the Administrative Division of Ri Nan which was a realm comprising of some northern provinces from Quang Binh to Hai Van pass and to Thu Bon river in Quang Nam province.  The local people strongly disliked Chinese domination and the oppression and exploitation by foreign mandarins.  The people rose in revolt many times and finally killed the despotic mandarins in 192 CE.  According to Chinese records, Chinese authority was overthrown and their own state, the Polity Lin Yi, was established under their ruler Khu Lian.  Thus, the people of Lin Yi had chosen the course they would take.  The atrocious, greedy Chinese mandarin was relegated and in its place entrusted to an Indian Brahmin who was priest, a literati and a chetti (merchant).

            However, after the successful uprising of the people of Lin Yi, the Chineses sought ways to establish and retain a commercial relation with the people of Lin Yi.  Archaeologists have found two to three Han Chinese mirrors and a clay seal as commercial sign in the ancient area of Ri Nan.

            In recent years, as seen in the provincial museums, large quantities of Chinese bronze coins have been uncovered in ancient areas of Champa.  These are listed below:

             -In Quang Binh province, in 1998, 4 vases full of bronze coins weighing 59 kg. were        uncovered.  They consisted of 1,200,000 pieces of Chinese coins from T’ang and Sung dynasties as well as some coins from Han and Tsin dynasties.

-In Phu Yen province, in a report from 2000, it was stated that 5 vases containing a large quantity of bronze coins weighing 500 kg. was uncovered in excavations conducted over 20 years.

-In Khanh Hoa province, in 1998, a vase full of Chinese bronze coins and paper money soaked,torn in water were found. (See New Archaeological Findings, Hanoi NAF 1998-   NAF 2012).  Thus, a scholar has assumed that Champa did not have money or mint coins? (R. Wicks, 1992).

            Thus, the considerable total of about 700 kg. of bronze coins from different Chinese dynasties have been uncovered to-date.

            The Chinese traders came to buy local products at a cheap price, such as, rhinoceros horns, ivory, gold, bee honey, agate and, especially, sandalwood.  The local people purchased Chinese products with some of the Chinese money they had earned while burying the remaining money.  The people of Lin Yi-Champa had made their choice.  They did not want to be dominated or return to being submissive.

The local People and Indian Persons

            In the encounter with Indian traders, the relation was not one between a ruler and a ruler, between a king and a king, operating under official protocol procedures.  Instead it was a relation between two equal peoples or normal group of representatives working together willingly and peacefully, without pressure or any obligation to act.


  1. The 1st Connection in North Champa

            This contact was established in North Champa between the indigenous people and persons of Indian origin.

2.1  It seemed that some Indian chetti (merchants) on Siang Lin Street, a town of Lin Yi, living along the river Thu Bon (in Quang Nam) sent written requests to their native country for assistance to further their careers.

            A leader or a group with a leader arrived in ca. 2nd century.  They taught the local people the Sanskrit language and its script, and organized an administration system for the region.  In the process, they spread Hinduism, especially Shaivism.  Trade and religious activities were established and continued uninterrupted.  Three Sanskrit inscriptions from the 3rd and 4th centuries CE are known.  They are (1) Hon Cut (Cut Rock) (C.105[1]) from Quang Nam, (2) Cho Dinh (Dinh Market) (C.41) from Phu Yen, near Nha Trang in the south, and (3) My Son A 1 (C.73A) in  the My Son valley, 68 kilometers southwest of Da Nang City.  They are dedicated to one king, Bhadravarman.

            Bhadravarman, therefore, appears to be the first king of the first dynasty in the north, ruling over My Son and the areas contiguous with Quang Nam.  He was soon attracted to areas far to the South.

2.2  In 5th to 6th centuries, the polity of Lin Yi was stabilized.  The Cham kings planned to recover the territory in the north which was occupied by Chinese mandarins from River Gianh, in present-day Quang Binh province to Hue-Hai Van pass.  After many battles, attack and counter-attacks, Lin Yi was successful in finally defeating the Han garrison.  Relying on their social- economic base on the Thu Bon river basin , and expanded greatly to the north, from Hue to Quang Binh, the 7th king, Kandarpadharma (580-605) decided to build the capital at the confluence of three rivers, Lou, Bou and Huong (fragrant), which cross Hue to the lagoon at Thuan An.  The capital, called Kandarpapura, with ramparts, was a stronghold of brick and earth and several kalan (temple).

2.3  But the Chinese, under the newly established Suie Dynasty does’nt gave up its ambition in the region.  It ordered General Liou Fang to reconquer Lin Yi.  Liou’s troops attacked, defeated and sacked the stronghold of Kandarpapura in 605 CE; King Kandarpadharma must have fled by sea.  The capital was devastated.  Today the remaining vestiges are traces of a wall, 1 m. high, and two temples in ruin, including a lintel, 2 m. long and 1 m. high, with sculptures of the image of Brahma, Siva and Visnu.  The lintel, called Lintel Uu Diem, is one of the most beautiful   and   early pictures of sculptural art of   Champa.

2.4  A prince of the Lin Yi royal family who lived and was educated at the court of Bhavapura/ Chenla, returned to Lin Yi.  He ascended the throne of Lin Yi, to become the 10th king, Prakasadharma (657-687 CE).  This king did not return to Kandarpapura, which was in ruins.  Instead, he returned to the basin of Thu Bon and My Son and to the wide areas in the south to develop theỉr social economic base.  Under his rule, eight new inscriptions in Sanskrit were placed.  One was in Le Cam (C.127) in Nha Trang, three in Quang Nam (C.135 in Thach Bich, C.136 in Duong Mong, C.137 in Tra Kieu), three in My Son (My Son B6, C.87, offering to Gods a kosa and a mukuta; My Son A10, C.79, offering to deity Kuvera; and My Son E6, C.96, records three donations by Prakasadharma, and the genealogy of the king) and Inscription of My Son A1 (C.73A).  This last inscription is damaged and only the reference to Prakasadharma is legible.

2.5  The inscription of Tra Kieu, mentioned above, presents the king’s efforts to build a temple at Tra Kieu dedicated to Valmiki, the author of Ramayana, as a cultural monument.  Perhaps his intention was to introduce the the Vaishnava cult beside the main Shaivism.

The inscription of My Son E6 (C. 96), dated 658 CE, narrates from the beginning the history of Lin Yi.  The first seven lines and the first verse are given below (Majumdar, Inscription 12).

“Perfection has been attained…….another family…….the town of Brahma…consecrated image of God Sri Sambhu-Bhadresvara…….in the prosperous Champa-pura.

“There was a king called Gangaraja, who was famed for the royal qualities of knowledge and heroism…….the sovereignty difficult to abandon……. ‘The joy arising from a view of Ganga is very great,’ and so he went to the Ganga.”

(The Sanskrit text was edited and translated at first in French by L. Finot.  This English translation is by R. C. Majumdar in Champa, published in Lahore in 1927, p. 21).  This stela, My Son E6, tells us:

(It seemed that, respecting  the invitation of the Indian chetti-merchants, and priest), King Gangaraja from his kingdom Anga in India, came here, chose a site at the confluence of rivers , as it is with the Ganga in his native country, to establish the administrative apparatus to organize the Kingdom  of Champa.

2.6  In 658 CE, the name, Kingdom of Champa, was officially declared for the first time—Champapura Paramesvara (i.e., Champa, devotee of Siva).  The name Champa reflects nostalgia as it expresses the memory of their native country, where Champa was the capital of the kingdom of Anga on the Ganga River, near Pataliputra of Magadha.

            Previously, G.Maspero has wrong assumed that the local Community denominated their State belonging a kind of flower – Champaka Linnae.

            But, in reality, the administration was constituted earlier, from about the 2nd century.  After the first King Gangaraja , the first dynasty continued with some legendary kings (Manorathavarman, Rudravarman.).  Perhaps the legendary kings are mentioned for continuity before recording the true king Bhadravarman of the 3rd century, mentioned above, appears in inscriptions My Son 1 and 3, and Quang Nam 1 and 2.

            The   10th king Prakasadharma (657-687) according to the editor of stela My Son E6, declared the official title of the Kingdom of Champa –Champapura-Paramesvara, i.e., Champa, devotee of Siva.

            As for the founder of the dynasty, Gangaraja, for whom the name Champa reflected his nostalgia and reminiscences of his native country, he decided to return home after establishing the base of the Kingdom.  He left as his legacy, the continuing royalty to his successors and, especially, a heritage of a comprehensive knowledge of Sanskrit, Hinduism, the experience in temple construction, and in handicraft production.


  1. The 2nd Connection in South Champa

3.1  To the south of City of Nha Trang, at the excavation of Hoa Dziem, vestiges of the cultural interaction of the local Austroasiatic speakers and Austronesian speakers – Rhadeh and Edeh- could be found at the archaeological site Hoa Dziem.

            But the most attractive site is Vo Canh, a village situated in 6 km South of Nha Trang City,where the Vo Canh stela standing on the shore was found around 1880.  From that year onwards, this stela has been investigated and discussed right into the middle of the 20th century by a number of scholars and professional paleo-philologists.

            Louis Finot, Director of EFEO assumed that the King Sri Mara, mentioned in the stela, was just Fan Shi Man of the Kingdom of Funan; and, therefore, concluded that Nha Trang was within the territory of Funan.  The inscription reflected the Buddhist spirit.

            To A. Bergaigne (1888, 1893) and Nilakanta Sastri (1935), the Cham alphabet resembled those of Vasisthapura in Kanheri, originating in South India in the 2nd to 3rd centuries.

            R.C. Majumdar (1932) developed the hypothesis that North India was the source of Indianization of Southeast Asia.  Nilakanta Sastri, in 1935, refuted this hypothesis by demonstrating that Cham alphabet originated from South India.

            Many other scholars joined in the discussion.  It seemed that the discussion could be ended with Jean Filliozat, Professor du College de France, with L’inscription dite “de Vo-Canh,” BEFEO 1969. The author criticized Louis Finot’s opinion and demonstrated that the alphabet in Vo Canh stela was an example of applying “Sanskrit originated from Tamoul of the Pandya kings of South India.”  Besides, Sri Mara was just a royal family of the Pandya kingdom of South India.He attempted to transcribe and translate the Vo Canh stela again.

“The indulgence to all creatures”.

“(Stela) established the 1st Victory of the family and the royal line Sri Mara.”

 “By the beautiful ornament, by the Yougster being the joy to the family of the daughter of the grandson of the king, for procreating relatives.”

            The significance is in some of the last statements: the family of the king Sri Mara…..from the Tamul kingdom of Pandya landed successfully at Nha Trang, at the same time, the girl, daughter of the king’s grandson could find the Youngster to become her husband, making them the 1st couple of the matriarchal line of the local population.

            The Vo Canh stela, dated in the 3rd century, which is a short time after Bhadravarman’s inscription of My Son I, states the beginning of the royal line in the south, but along a matriarchal line. One would like to know the Deity being venerated and the building of a centre for the cult of the Deity.

            Since the royal family related to the sea came from ocean, the centre of the cult must be situated on the sea coast. The site of Po Nagar was chosen.  They met evidently the royal family of the River tradition, which earlier had established the kingdom of Champa.  They, therefore, accepted at first the cult of Siva.

            They established the relation as a part of Champa nagaraPanduranga nagara, devoted to Bhagavati, the Siva’s wife and the deity of Po Nagar,  together with Ocean-Deities Bhagavati, Matrilingesvari and Kautharesvari  at the same time, where matri represents the female form, lingesvari is the conjugated form of linga+isvari meaning Consort of Siva, and Kauthar is for Po Nagar.  All these details are inscribed on the pillar of Temple A in Po Nagar.

            Thinking that this Panduranga nagara was a new state albeit being a part of Champa nagara, the ancient Chinese Historians called it by a different name-Huan Wang, and   “Huan Wang was inherently Lin Yi”,   called Champa, even called Champapura. (Huan Wang was the transcription of Chamic- Pu Po tana Raya (“the Lord of the Earth”-the Viraraja of Vỉrapura ).

            The 1st verse on the stela, Po Nagar 1, Inscription C.38A, states “Om! Reverence to Vicitra (Miraculous) Sagara (Ocean)” .  Here, the Ocean Tradition appears in the matriarchal line of the local people of South Champa, even today, this ancient family tradition, known as areca (pinang vayun, kramukavamsa) continues.

            Po Nagar is the sanctuary of the south, where the Bhagavati is cult, as a symbol of Siva, the supreme deity.  It is also a symbol for Po Ina Nagar, the Queen of the State, the Mother of the matriarchal line of the areca family, pinang vayun.  Some early stele, Po Nagar 1 and 2 inscribed on the stone gates, present the feats and the history of the kings of the 1st dynasty of Panduranga.

            However, the royal family lived mostly in their place of origin palei (the native village) which is the present village of Chakling, near Po Rome temple.  Today it is a tourist site with Batau Tablah (Split Rocks), the private house of Madam Dao with private museum, “Ancient Treasures of the Cham kings, and the ancient site of the “Royal Palace.”

  1. Discussion

            Is it reasonable the merge of local People – the AustroAsiatic / Proto Mon and Orang Laut (the Seamen)/Austronesians formed the basic Community on the shore of Central Vietnam   which became the decisive role for the development of the Local Community?

             Thus, how the Foreigners– Indian priests, Chetti,Literati could  contribute to the development of  new Polities  on the shore ?

  1. The 3rd Connection in Funan

            Many Indian scholars have written on the “ancient Indian colony,” enumerating only Champa and Cambodia without mentioning Funan (R. S. Sharma, 1982; Romila Thapar, 1984; Kenneth Mc Pherson, 1993).

            Why so?  The case of Funan is very different from these two kingdoms even though Funan was the earliest and the most developed.

            There is no inscription on the beginning of Funan, and no one of Indian origin is mentioned.  But we first learn about Funan from a diary of an early Chinese “diplomat,” the mandarin Kang Tai, who was on a mission to Funan with Chu Ing.

5.1  This mission of Kang Tai came to Funan in 3rd century, which was already famous for its activities as a commercial hub and its rich lifestyle.  On returning home, Kang Tai wrote the diary, narrating their travel by sea and river on a boat, and describing the landscape and its people.  But that was merely the appearance not the substance.  His diary described Funan as a state on the coast and ruled by a queen.  One day, being informed that a group of ships was approaching to conquer; the queen commanded her own group of ships and sailed off to offer battle.  The conquering warrior “released an arrow of gold which pierced through the side of the queen’s ship; the queen was afraid and surrendered “.  The foreign warrior married her, making the couple the king and queen of Funan.  The name of the king was Hun Tien and of the queen, Lieou Dziep.  This story was narrated by some person, it is merely a story.  This story, however, was confirmed by a later inscription of Champa, My Son E6 (C.96), of the 10th king, Prakasadharma.  The inscription names the conqueror Kaundinya and the queen Soma of Naga (tribe).  In reality, this is not the true name of the queen but only a token name for the ruler of (the tribe of) vnam or bnam which means “the mountaineers” and which was the origin of the Chinese transcription (for the name of the state of) Funan.

5.2  According to the inscription, the queen was required to be called Soma to become the wife of Kaundinya, the foreign warrior.  Soma as a token name is common today in Nagaland, a state in Northeast India.  Kaundinya perhaps was a family name closely related to the Scythians, a group of nomadic tribes living over an area extending from the Middle East to North India.  Being a matriarchal society, the married couple took the name of the Naga woman the current population of Nagaland, as had the Scythians earlier, absorbed and assimilated the Indian traditional culture and characteristics.  It was the same with Kaundinya and his Scythian kinsmen.

            In verses 16 and 17 of My Son E6 (C.96) inscription, dated 658 CE, tells us, “Kaundinya, foremost among Brahmins plants the spear given by Drona’s son Asvatthama… The Naga king’s daughter, Soma, founded a family in this world”

They took the role of intermediary for commercial activities of the Indian priest and traders in Funan, acting as a linking bridge between the Middle East, and even the Mediterranean, and the East Sea on the Pacific.

  1. 3 There is factual evidence which has been uncovered under excavation such as, some stone tools of pre-Oc Eo culture, dated 1st century CE, a Chinese part of mirror, dated 2nd century, and two Roman gold medals, dated 2nd century. It can, therefore, be said that the historical beginning of the state of Funan was in the 1st century and continued to the 7th century, through thirteen kings,  starting with Kaundinya and progressing to the 12th king Jayavarman and finally to the 13th king Rudravarman.  There was another member of family who was also called Kaundinya, he was the 10th king of Funan (ca. 360-424).  When Kang Tai visited Funan, he met the King Fan Tam (250-290).

5.4  The 3rd century was the culmination of the development of Funan.  The king, Shi Man, conquered extensively to expand his authority.  To its inherent territory which included most of the Mekong river delta, he expanded to Thaton in Myanmar in the west, and to the river Se Mun and Khorat in the North.

5.5  Funan was “the first maritime Empire in the Region” (Wang Gungwu).  Moreover, Funan became the central node of world maritime trade in the East.

In 1944, the 1st archaeological excavation was undertaken at Oc Eo, in Ba The district of An Giang province.  It was undertaken by L. Malleret.  He discovered a complex site where Oc Eo, as the ancient port of the city of Funan, reflected the material base of Funan’s power and the thriving life of the ancient port city.  A very large quantity of jewelry was excavated.  It consisted of:

 -gold jewelry; 1311 pieces, weighing 1,120 gm;

 – more than 20.000 beads of jade, rubies, and pearl;

 – 45 artefacts of gold, bronze and silver originating from foreign countries, and incised with foreign characters, mostly from India in Brahmi script but also in Roman and Chinese characters.

 – a collection of silver coins of Funan prototypes as well as from Hmawza in Myanmar, Thailand and especially a collection of silver coins from the Middle East, representing both specific and Indo-Greek currency.

(See Appendix 1, below, for the Silver Currency of Funan

5.6  Funan was a Centre of Ancient World Culture.  As evidence of a centre of Buddhism the School of Art produced Buddapada in stone and wood, and as a centre of Vaishnavism the School of Art produced Visnu statues of stone

  1. Concluding Reflection

            The ancient  historical facts occurred on the shore of the present Vietnam showed that the Seamen,Malayo-Polynesian-Austronesians took a dynamic  role  in the Development of   the Trading- Economic activities  in Ancient Society, as well as the  linkage of different  population groups  and the connection with Foreigners .However one cannot elude the primal function of  the local Population-the Austro-Asiatics who  exploited  the  preliminary   living earthen base, began the   Agriculture and handicraft. But living at the level of primitive Society, they wouldn’t stride ahead successfully, if without the endowment from persons of a higher level Culture. The historical reality on the coast of   present Vietnam confirmed the influence of Indian Culture in the beginning   strides   of Development and its effect.



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                                                            * Professor Luong Ninh (VASS)

Continue : Appendix 1

Appendix 1  

The Silver Currency of Funan

Luong Ninh, Ph.D.

            This paper deals with the quality of City-Port of Oc Eo basing on the Excavation of L. Malleret and a part of Vietnamese Archaeologists in the later time, from 1975-1995-2000.

            The yield of excavation showed the quality of a Port with artefacts from foreign origin and of a City with luxurious jewelry for tradesmen, city residents.

            The Port was also a market. The monetary was necessary. So, the monetary remains at issue that does Funan mint itself their Monetary?

            The relation of City-Port Oc Eo    and other Provinces in “the Empire”; the situation of City-Port  and  the Capital.

  1. Malleret’s works

            The archaeological Excavation at the site Oc Eo was achieved in 1944 by Louis Malleret; 3 years later,G.Coedes- Former Director of the EFEO has presented  the  interesting result   out wards  their Ecole in an article “ Le site de Go Oc Eo-ancient port of the Kingdom of Funan (1), albeit the  just Malleret’s  report of Excavation and research  appeared in  4 times in  12 years  later (2)  showing that the yield from Oc Eo was  really the base of material and cultural life of the Kingdom of Funan  and that  Malleret’s work deserved to be  the opening and the background of  research on Funan. So in the meantime, Wang Gungwu has confirmed Funan was the First Maritime Empire in Nanhai((3)

            Albeit in working, L. Malleret must overcame the hard trial of natural conditions (The area Oc Eo must bear a flood of water and alluvium in 6-8 months yearly; the stratigraphy was often mixed up, causing major difficulties.

            So, he  has had to  work cautiously in excavation , in  gathering  and rectifying with scrutiny of  artefacts  .He got  at last,  a rich reap :

  1. Evidence of a City-Port:

            -/ a  formidable   collection  of jewelry :

-1311 pieces of gold (rings, earrings, beads, weighted 1120 grs.)

9283 beads of collars of jade and pearl;

            -/ b- a remarkable artefacts  from foreign origin :

-2 Roman medals of gold (being known widely)

-1 Persian copper lamp;

– A part 1/4 Han Chinese bronze mirror;

-45 artefacts inscribed with foreign scripts: 2 names of Roman sovereign in Latin; 2 Chinese scripts, 1 ancient Malaya;

36 scripts Brahmi, sanskrit, incised on the rings, bangles.

            -/c – A number of  statues of stone and of wood, and sculptures etc.;

All these artefacts uncovered inside or beside of the base of big architectures made of earth and stone- seemed the temple or palace?

            d/- The vestiges  of trading  activities and  the presence of foreigners nationals- they were Indian Brahmen, Scythian traders,  handicraft makers or artists: 6 seals of silver, bronze and wood, some weights, many  pieces of seal of tin “plomb de colis “ (in a pit at Dong Thap province, a piece of clay was uncovered, retaining the trace of cord tie “ of clay seal” .On the tin seals, there were many images of men  wearing  likely India ,Scythian..”Hundreds families of Brahmen and ‘Hu” Scythians lived, inhabited here’ (Ancient Records).

Evidently, Oc Eo    deserved to be  an International Port, representing  the image  of  the  “first  Maritime Empire “.

But the Port was also a market, a place of change and trade, the Monetary was necessary.  Expectedly, Malleret found   a number of silver coins getting motif “Conch and Sun” that he denominates “Money of Oc Eo”, being found in abundance at Oc Eo”.

 Besides, trusting that  after the conquest of the King-Fan Shi Man in 3rd century, the  realm from Oc Eo to Thaton (Suvarnabhumi) became to Funan-dependents  of Funan, he assumed that all coinage recovered in this area could be  Funanese- “Monnaie  d’Oc Eo “ bearing motif  Conch and Sun “ ‘ found in abundance at Oc Eo”.

But in the registration of artefacts, he enumerated completely:

 Pl. XLIV –Money of Oc Eo in motif of Conch and Sun: 3 coins;

 XLV –Money presumed of Funan-Pieces of Siam: 8 coins;

 XLVI–Money presumed of Funan-Pieces of Hmawza: 8 coins);

  1. The Monetary at Oc Eo and the issue of Monetary

 So, a number of coins recovered at Oc Eo, but the provenance is Siam and Hmawza (Prome-Burma). Thís state leds naturally to an observation “A number of South East Asian coins, all struck in silver,originating in Thailand or Burma. There is no evidence for the issuance of coinage within the Funan realm itself…”  (R.Wicks (4- p.186) and that received the agreement of J. N Miksic:”Coinage  was an important part of the trading system of central South East Asia in the time of Funan even if  Funan itself cannot  be shown to have minted its own coin.”.and linked  with a comment :The existence of coin at Oc Eo is more likely to have been connected with the internal use of coin for every day purchases.It is very difficult to imagine how a complex system of occupational specialization such as existed at Oc Eo could have flourished otherwise’  (5-p.24) .

I am suspicious that both scholars neglected, being elusive a number of remarkable details in the report of Excavation/ book by L. Malleret already mentioned in their papers.

  1. L. Malleret’s Report of Excavation and Research- ADM III-pp. 481-500.

I-XL: Statistics of Jewelry;

XL: Moneys and Medal

XLIV: Money of Oc Eo in Conch and Sun: Pictures 948-949-950(3 coins);

XLV: Monetary presumed to Funan: 1, 2, 3, 4, a-b:-Siam, – Bangkok (8 coins);

XLVI: Monetary presumed to Funan: Pieces of Burma: 1, 2, 3, 4, 9-10 (8coins);

XLVII: Small piece (Piecette) of Money of silver, Picture No 952-953.

LXI: The Sygillography of Oc Eo,The inscribed  Seals;

LXII: The Glyptics of Oc Eo: the intaglio on Cornalin, Rubis;

LXXI-LXXXIII: The glyptics at Oc Eo and at Hundred Streets (the town at Kien Giang province, considered  as Pre-Port);

LXXXIV-LXXXIX: Waiste of food (bones of animals, fish.)

  1. Malleret seemed neglect 2 pictures of the Planche XLVII, but I think, they are remarkable: Here,we can find in 1 picture 952 the image of 8 birds conjectured

Wagtail (Phasianidae  (Rhenartia Ocellata)- a kind of  pretty tail bird, raising till now in Vietnam.This is a collection of small pieces of silver coins about 1 cm in Dm and a local/internal monetary in Funan. They are entirely different from other Monetary that we have known.

            The thick layer of mud covered  often  the surface of excavation hampering Malleret to differentiate the distance  of 3 centuries between  the coins at Hmawza,  dated  IVth Century and the coins in the Plate  953 of XLVII, where, we can find clearly the images of 2 srivatsa and 2 conches that were then the internal  coins of Funan dated   II nd Century-in the same layer of  artefacts of Roma , China and especially-the series of Indo-Greek coins mentioned below. So naturally they were the prototype of Hmawza and Siam coins.

Perhaps, L. Malleret was especially delighted at the series of Coinage originated Middle East (Pictures):

Pl XC: Effigies of Iranian aspect-1-Ardeshir (226-240AD)

    XCI: Moneys of Chandragupta II,ca 375-414)

    XCII:  Moneys of Huviska ( 162-182 ?)- Indo-Greck Coins

    XCIII: Indo-Greck Coins- Vimakadphises II (ca 85-120 AD),Huviska (central)

Below: Kushano-Sassanid Coins

    XCIV:Moneys of Kadphises II (ca 85-120 AD)

    XCV: Kushan Monetary: Vasudeva (ca 185-220),

Below: Kushan-Sassanid Coins

All  about 20 coins from Middle East  became  strong foreign currency enjoying him that  the coins from Hmawza,Siam- a Coinage of  “Internal  Empire” cannot  be  analyzed reasonably ?

  1. 5. Other local Monetary

            In the years 1975-1995, a series of  local monetary  uncovered at some provinces in  South Vietnam, nearby  Oc Eo, in the ancient realm of Funan: 12 coins  of  copper-lead/tin and lead-iron, 2,5 cm in Dm, 1,5 mm thick, such as :  Nen Chua (province Kien Giang)-3 coins-a date:330 CE,Da Noi (Kien Giang):3 coins;Ke Mot( Kien Giang) :2 coins,Go Hang (province Long  An):4 coins- a date: GH 85-01-1970+ 50.

(Sources:  Provincial Museum of Long An and Kien Giang… On the obverse and reverse of these coins, one can find the features of 3 elephants, 3 srivatsa.

  1. The City-Port and the Provinces

            The ancient records mentioned there were 7 canton/polities, but that is not sure. However, some provincial Centers developed in 4-5th Centuries, following the

City-port, arising   a  system of  Funan  characteristic  Culture  : Ceramic , a series of  statues of wood of Buddha  and statues of  stone of Visnu  according to  Funan school of Art, a series  of  pieces of gold incised  deities, conches, lotus,wheels offering in  the Sima  of temples, all making the similarity between  provincial Centres: Go Thap (Dong thap province),Luu Cu (Vinh Long), Nhan Nghia ( Can Tho), Go Don (Long An), Go Thanh( Tien Giang), Nen Chua( Kien Giang, and Oc Eo (An Giang).

At present,One can find without  difficulty in any provincial Museum mentioned above: the  3 layers body of vase, some  ring-spouts of vase , 1-2  statues of Buddha of wood, 1-2 statues of Visnu of stone, characteristic  for  Oc Eo Ceramic and school of Art of Funan.

  1. The Capital

            Completed the Excavation, Malleret mentioned: “These facts suggest to historians that Angkor Borei may have been an inland capital of the Funan “kingdom” that Chinese emissaries described in the third century CE.” (6).

I think that is exact. However, previously, L. Finot located the capital at Angkor Borei  (BE 1928), L. Malleret  (1962)  confirmed  after  excavation at  Oc Eo,but believed that Oc Eo was  the Port ,while  the capital must be  situated at Angkor Borei. He found the long canal linking  the port Oc Eo to the town  Chau Doc and  a system of 5 short canals linking   Chau Doc  to  the  Phnom  of  Angkor  Borei, where  he found  vestiges of   wall and  architectures, and some  Oc Eo pottery sherds. To my mind, I trust it  also by the name: Ankor Borei is  the  late  appellation of  Nagara-Pura ( the State  City/Capital)  by the local people, situated   at the district/ province  Kirivong (Girivamsa– lineage of Mountaineers-of Funaneses).   But Miriam T. Stark‘s discoveries are  meaningful: on a vast surface  “no fewer than 300 hectares in area, the wall’s perimeter is approximately 6 km, more than 100 water control features and archaeological features  “were  uncovered  and  found.

“Thirty brick masonry rubble mounds”, among which, “the largest monument had dimension in 70×32 meters, “ a rectangular platform that is at least 10×19 m” were revealed. A number vestiges of the architectural foundations for big house, palace perhaps .So Angkor Borei contains surely the important vestiges deserving to be the Capital.

This place was also a site of habitations-17.000 sherds, glaze wares, glass beads were found, and a number of tombs in which, “partial remains of at least 18 individuals were recovered” (Opt.cit., p.98) .

            However,  here, at the Capital, a strange  state  exposed: there was not  jewelry, monetary, any coins  of    external  or internal monetary, any  ring, earrings  was found : an inexplicable reality (a poor reality!)

            Is it right here, at the Capital, the King and Mandarins lived, took simply the administrative and   religious functions with   Phom Da standing at beside as a sanctuary? That is also the normal function of Oriental Sovereign. In a cave in Phnom Da, P, Dupont (1955)   has had found a hoard where    30 statues and above of Hinduist deities and Buddha concealed, perhaps before escaping from the enemies.

            In this situation, the Port Oc Eo took the function of the main City   for Trade, Foreign affairs, and thus, being Representative to “the Empire”?



Georges Coedes-Le site de Go Oc Eo,ancient port du Royaume de Funan-Artibus Asiae,Vol X/3,1947.

  1. Dupont-La Statuaire preangkorienne, Artibus Asiae, Ascona Suisse 1955

Louis Malleret-L’Archeologie du delta du Mekong (ADM), Tomes 1-4, Paris 1959-1963.

Wang Gungwu- The Nanhai Trade-Singapore 1958-1998.p.111.

W.R.Wicks- Money,Markets and Trade in  Early Southeast Asia,SEAP,NY.1992, p.186.

John N. Miksic-The beginning of Trade in Ancient Art& Archaeology of Funan, edit’ by  J.C.M. Khoo-  Orchid-Bangkok-  2003,p. 23-24.

Miriam T. Stark- Angkor Borei and the Archaaeology…in Art& Archaeology, 2003, pp. 94-95.

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