The Cham

Cham Statue Although only about 4,000 Cham live in Thailand they are an interesting people in the history of SE Asia. When you read about the decline of Angkor Kingdom two groups gets the blame. They are the Tais and the Cham. These posed a constant threat on the Khmer Empire, gradually taking over parts of it in both the east and west.

 The Cham are a Malayo-Polynesian people closely related to the Malay race. At one time the Champa Kingdom was powerful and stretched across into Cambodia from Vietnam. The kingdom was at its peak between the 7th. and 15th. Centuries but went into decline after that. Originally a Hindu people, a large part became Moslem and this dates back to the 11th. Century. Because they were a coastal trading people in Vietnam and dealing with Arab merchants is probably why they were some of the earliest adherents to Islam in SE Asia.

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