Cham - Orientation



Identification. The Cham are a Malay people who represent the remnant of a once large and powerful kingdom (Champa) that was dominant in the Vietnamese coastal region from about A.D. 200 until its demise in AD. 1471. In 1901 they were on the verge of extinction. It is believed that the original home of the Cham was Java. There they adopted a number of Indian cultural elements (particularly in the religious and artistic spheres) before their migration to Indochina.

Location. Vietnam and Cambodia are the locus of Cham culture. The Cham are found in south-central Vietnam and in the Tonle Sap and Chau Doc areas of Cambodia.

Demography. In 1910 there were 15,389 Cham in Annam and 30,000 living in Cambodia. In 1981 there were 155,000 Cham reported living in Cambodia and Vietnam.

Linguistic Affiliation. Cham is a branch of Malay that contains elements drawn from several language families. Some of its more important elements are those from Malayo-Polynesian languages, Khmer, Vietnamese and Chinese languages, Indochinese languages, Sanskrit, and Arabic.

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