Guidebook This was once the Ancient Kingdom of Champa

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This was once the Ancient Kingdom of Champa

Central Vietnam used to be an “eccentric Indian-Malay kingdom called Champa,” writes Cameron Shingleton at Medium. Until the 15th century it had “a culture and a mentality all of its own,” but nearly all that’s left now are the “huge stone penis statues and the ecstatic dancers, complete with square unVietnamese jaws and full unVietnamese breasts, on display in the museum in Da Nang.” At its peak, from around the 6th to the 15th centuries, the Champa empire and its various kingdoms, “presided over by regional royal families,” also included sizable portions of eastern Cambodia and Laos, explains National Geographic. “The oldest artifacts of a distinctly Cham civilization -- brick flooring, sandstone pillars, and pottery found at Tra Kieu in Quang Nam Province -- date to the second century A.D.” and the temple city of My Son, near Hoi An, preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage site, has nearly 70 individual structures.

For 900 years, the Cham people “fought often with their neighbors,” writes Mike High at The Los Angeles Times -- “the Vietnamese to the north and the Khmer to the south.” Little is known of the Cham, he says, “but their land was one of the more exotic places visited by Marco Polo on his legendary journeys in the late 13th century.” And “with a little imagination” the Champa can still be glimpsed along the central coast -- “a few temples, sensuous art and sculptures of Cham gods survive as testimony to this highly developed civilization.”

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