Champa King

king of Champa “The 7th century and the first”

The eldest son of Shambhuvarman, called Kandarpadharma in the inscriptions (C.96 VII, My Son), succeeded his father. The precise dates of his reign are unknown but he seems to have benefited from political troubles between southern China and the Red river (Gungwu 1958: 62) to increase trade and even piracy. Indeed, he provoked a military campaign in 604 CE by the Chinese emperor (Sui shu, 53 on Linyi).

In 605 CE, according to the Sino-Viêt (Nguyên Thê Anh 1990: 9-10), there was fighting between Sino-Viêt forces and those of king Fan Fanzhi ‘king of Linyi’.  The confrontation took place in modern Quang Binh, not far from Ba Don. A Sino-Viêt general called Liu Fang drove to the Gianh river, pushed on to Huê, advanced to the Pass of Clouds and within eight days sacked the ‘capital of Linyi’. He carried off spoils including the royal archives and library of 1,350 Buddhist texts written in ‘langue kunlun’ (very probably proto-Cham: Wang Gungwu 1958 : 64 n. 12) and the  ‘18 golden tablets of the former kings of Linyi’. The situation south of the ‘bronze columns’ of the Pass of Clouds, presumably Tra Kiêu, is unclear but the signs of occupation of the adjacent hill of Buu Chau disappear at this time. Fan Fanzhi is recorded as taking flight, but little light is shed on these dark years until the Tang dynasty is established in 618. Embassies from Linyi and Zhenla are then recorded in 623, 625 and 628 CE (Jiu Tang shu, section 197). These missions were sent by Fan Fanzhi, who rebuilt the capital after the destruction of 605 CE.

The stela C.111 erected in Thua Thiên-Huê by king Kandarpadharma (‘who has the Law of Kama’) records a donation to the god Kandarpapureshvara, i.e. the god of Kandarpapura (‘the city (where Shiva burnt) Kama’). Kandarpadharma’s city was of course called Kandarpapura and could well have been situated at the old capital southwest of modern Huê on Linyi territory. Kandarpadharma is the first king to be named ‘Lord of Champa’ and ‘Lord of the land of Champa’ (campāpṛthivībhujaś C.73 A l. 12) and he is praised for having ‘protected his subjects’ (C.96 A VIII). It is therefore only possible to reconcile the archaeological and textual data by postulating a re-installation of the lineage of Xitu kings (of the Thu Bon valley) on the territory of Linyi, which had perhaps been weakened by the Chinese attacks. This king from the ‘country of Champa’ (Campādeśa) and described as ‘king of Linyi’ must have returned to the country of the Lin, perhaps at their invitation. The Lin may have felt the need to seek allies among their neighbours in case of further attacks from the north. It is thus possible that a native lineage from this area survived on the fertile earth of Gio Linh.

During most of the 7th century Linyi maintained regular diplomatic and trade relations with the Tang: from 623 to 684 CE embassies were frequent. We know that a new king of Linyi called ‘Fan Touli’ came to power in 630 CE, whereas the successor of Kandarpadharma is named in Cham inscriptions as Prabhasadharma. We can thus deduce that Kandarpadharma’s new capital of  Kandarpapura in the Lin country was established between the Chinese attack of 605 and the end of his reign in 630.

The next king to come to power in 640 was called ‘Fan Zhenlong’ in the Chinese texts, which also say he was assassinated by his minister in 645 CE. However in inscription C.96 (face A st. XIII-XIV), the lineage of king Bhadreshvaravarman was interrupted by the minister ordering the death of ‘all male descendents’. Yet a nephew of the king escaped death and sought refuge in Bhavapura (Sambor Prei Kuk) in Zhenla, the kingdom that separated from Funan in the second half of the 6th century (C.96 A, st. XV). This prince Jagaddharma was to marry in exile Sharvani, daughter of the founder of Zhenla king Ishanavarman.

The Chinese texts say that after the crisis of 645, royal power was offered to Prabhasadharma, son of Fan Touli. They also note that the exiled king Zhugedi is the son of

the paternal aunt of Fan Touli. He seems to be the nephew of Kandarpadharma (the son of

his sister) and the cousin of Prabhasadharma. The sister of Kandarpadharma could have been married to a nearby king whose capital was the reserve of their son Jagaddharma, on his return from exile, along with their grandson Prakashadharma. I propose that there were ties between the area of modern Quang Tri, seat of the Lin people, with the Khmers (first Funan the Zhenla from the 2nd to the 6th century). When Prakashadharma, the descendent of the local lineage and son of Jagaddharma and grand nephew of Kandarpadharma, claimed the throne of Linyi in the 650s he had a right to do so from his own family’s territory. But if the daughter of Kandarpadharma married a neighbouring Vaisnava king in modern Quang Tri we may suspect that the parents of Prakashadharma were reigning in that capital, which was later called Vishnupura. Vaisnavism, the religion of Zhenla, only developed in Quang Tri. In 658 CE Prakashadharma adopted the title ‘Great king, Lord of Campapura’ (mahārāja Campāpuraparameśvara in C.96 B, l. 13). In My Son inscription C.96, at his coronation, when he took the reign title Vikrantavarman, we find his entire genealogy. A Tra Kiêu, he honours the memory of Kandarpadharma, his great grandfather (C.137 of Tra Kieu and C.73 B of My Son; Huber 1911: 262-4) with the erection of two temples to Vishnu. My Son was then the centre of the cult of the protective divinity of the country and Tra Kieu, and along with the linked political centre together constituted the core of Xitu, which was still being wrongly called Linyi by the Chinese. At Tra Kiêu, after the events of the early 7th century, the hill site of Buu Chau was not reoccupied and another hill was chosen, which J.-Y Claeys identifies as points A and B.

Even more interesting is the evidence from Kandarpapura in Thua Thiên-Huê and Quang Tri. Here we see a deliberate move of the capital and a recovery of territories that enabled Prakashadharma to call himself ‘king of kings’; his father Jagaddharma was descended from the Lin and his mother was Cham. The fact that the country of the Chams in mentioned in Cham texts (C.96 in 658 CE) and Khmer (K. 53 in 667 CE), while the continued Chinese use of ‘Linyi’ may be explained by Prakashadharma’s uniting the territories under his rule. ‘Cham’ has become preponderent in the inscriptions, thanks to the aura given to it by the god of My Son and the lineage he protected. The expression ‘the country of he who protects the Chams’ (Campāpura or Campānagara) brings together the political entity, an ethnic group and a protective divinity. Any king wanting to establish his authority had to place himself under the protection of the god of My Son, as did king Kandarpadharma, the ‘Lord of Champa’ (Campeśvara) when he founded Kandarpura beyond the territory of Xitu.