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Seminar on: “HOL”, the Art of Cambodian Textile,
organized by the Institute of Khmer Traditional Textile
with the Collaboration of the Center for Khmer Studies
Vat Damnak, Siem Reap, December 12-13, 2003

 SON Soubert,
Professor at the Faculty of Archaeology (Phnom-Penh)
Member of the Constitutional Council of the Kingdom of Cambodia.
President of the SON Sann Foundation.

History between Lin-Yi, further Campa polity and Funan / Tchen-la/ Angkor polity was not always that of wars and conflicts. The inter-influence between these two nations is undeniable. The inscription of Vo Canh (C.40, South Vietnam) the oldest in Cam area dating back to the second half of the 3th A.D, mentions the great grand daughter of a monarch with the name of Srî Mâra, that Prof. Jean Filliozat linked, through the tamil royal title, to a Southern Indian King on the Coromandel coast(1). The inscription of Miso’n E6 by Prakâsadharma Vikrantavarman recounted the historical origin of Cambodia with the legendary couple of Kaundinya and Soma, the Nâga King’s daughter (2). This official version is coupled with the legend told by the Chinese records, another source of the history of Hun-tien and Lady Ye-ye (Coconut leaf) or Lieu-ye (Willow leaf) (3). Another legend pertaining to the original couple is known in Khmer sources as Preah Thong-Neang Neak.

The Chinese records are also a source of information on Lin-yi/Campa, besides
the inscriptions. We are going to talk about a country under the name of Campa,
mentioned for the first time in two Sanskrit inscriptions, dated 658 A.D. found
in Central Vietnam, and 668 A.D. found in Cambodia. The corresponding Chinese transliteration of Campapura is “Chan-Chéng”: the city of Chan, mentioned in 877 A.D. (4).

The relationship between Campa and Pre-Angkor Cambodia seems to be on a family basis. A Cam Prince, Jaggaddharma, father of the future Prakâsadharma, from the Gangârâjavamsa came to Bhavapura and got married with King Isanvarman I’s daughter, Princess Sarvânî from the Somavamsa, in the 7th century (5). Whether Jayavarman II came from Javâ or Campa to liberate Cambodia still remains a hypothesis of work, but the circumstances around his return and the possible intervention of Panduranga in Tchen-la by the Senâpati Pâr between 813 and 817 may have something to do with him (6). But it became strained with the first time invasion in 950 A.D. by Angkor in the South of Campa (7). Despite pressure from the Diet-Viet, since 982 (Coedès G., 1964, pp. 230-31) and again in 1021, 1026 and 1044, resulting in the death of Cam King and unrest in Panduranga (Finot Louis, 1903, pp. 645-46), Campa managed to successfully attack Cambodia in 1044 and 1080. After helping the Khmer King, Suryavarman II, to attack the Dai-Viet, Campa reconciled with the latter was attacked by the Khmers in 1145, resulting in the capture of Vijaya. By 1149, it was liberated by the King of Panduranga who occupied the throne of Vijaya amidst internal adversaries and contest from Amarâvatî and even Panduranga
for “his consecration as “King of Kings” at Vijaya”. The successor of that King
made a surprise attack on Angkor and killed its King in 1177 (Ma Touan Lin,
1883, p.557). A Khmer Prince, later crowned as King Jayavarman VII, saved the
situation and took revenge by capturing Vijaya and its king in 1190. After a
period of trouble and revolt in 1192, Campa was turned into a Khmer province
from 1203 until 1220… the conflicts thus ended between Campa and Cambodia.

These formerly fraternal polities turned into enemies has managed to preserve
their originality, though receiving mutual influence, during this period of
friendly and hostile co-existence. The influence from Java was, at several periods
of the history of Campa, also obvious. Cam art received in fact other influence
around, like Chinese and Đai-viet influence. Philippe Stern (Art du Champa et
Son Evolution, Paris 1942) in his study on the evolution of the Cam art and
architecture had already pointed out to this trend.


This period of Mis’on E1 style would approximately date from the 7th century
and be extended to the 8th century. The most quoted examples concern the Mis’on E1 pediment of the reclining Visnu at the Danang Museum, the temple of Pho-Hai or Pho-Sanu, the Mis’on E 1 pedestal of the Siva Linga, all compared to the Prey Kmeng style of the 7th century (circa 640-645 A.D.), which according to
Jean Boisselier (Le Cambodge, Paris 1966, p.146) disappeared at the end of the
7th century. The other style next to Prei Kmeng is that of Kompong Preah, starting beginning of the 8th century (8).

What differs from the Mis’on E1 pediment of the Recumbent Visnu and the Tuol
Baset pseudo-lintel (now at the Battambang Municipal Museum), is that the Brahma seated on the Lotus flower gets out of the arcature framework and the whole scene is flanked with 2 anthromorphic birds holding 2 serpents, that could be assimilated to 2 Garudas, which exist also in the Pre-Angkor lintels of the
Phnom-Penh National Museum. Furthermore, the short plain sampot or skirt with double fabric belts and front pocket of the Mis’on E1 pediment Visnu can be
compared to the sampot of the Avalokitesvara of Angkor Borei with a long falling
pocket and the triple clothe belts, also seen on the bas-reliefs of the lintel
of the Lingodbhavamûrti of Vat Eng Khna. Instead the Visnu of the Tuol Baset
lintel is depicted with pleated sampot, triple pockets in the front, and jeweled
belt, which we can compare to the Visnu statue of Prâsâd Andet, now at the National Museum of Phnom-Penh.

Beside the Đa-nghi Visnu, already mentioned, we have another Tuy-Hoa Visnu,
the statue of which can match the Khmer model of the Pre-Angkor period, by the
technique of the support arch, in the Prei Kmeng style by the dress. The way
the God holds the Cakra and the Conch, especially the Cakra perpendicular to
the shoulder indicates some Indian model of the early period.

In terms of architecture, the southernmost Cam temple of Pho Hai or Pho Sanu
is also related to Khmer temple of Prey Kmeng period or Kompong Preah style.
It is a cross breed between Khmer art and Cam art. It is difficult to give details,
since the temple is quite worn out; the silhouette of the lintel looks like
a Khmer one dated from the pre-Angkor era.


We are still situated in the South of the Cam sphere with Pho-Hai and Hoa-lai,
and another temple called Po-Dam of the Hoa-lai style in the same region, whereas Miso’n E1 is situated in the Northern sphere of Campa. According to Philippe Stern, the Prâsâd Damrei Krap on the Phnom-Kulen in Cambodia would be the best preserved Cam temple of that period and represent the transition between the Ancient style of Miso’n E1 and Hoa-lai style, since the typical arcature of Miso’n E1 style can still be found there. According to Philippe Stern again, this temple was the work of Cam craftsmanship with Cam design, only the sandstone doorframe and lintel are Khmer. It belongs to the Kulen style, dating back to the end of the 8th century and beginning of Jayavarman II reign. Belonging to this style, the temples of Trapeang Phong S2 and 3, of Prâsâd Prei Prâsâd at Hariharalaya, of Ak Yum on the Western Baray with their bases are heavily charged with decorations that may have received Cam influence. On the Phnom Kulen itself, the Peam Kré temple may be one of the earliest monuments by its round column, while its base is decorated with an arcature relating to Cam art with a decoration similar to that of Mis’on F1 (9).

As far as the relief is concerned, we can make some comparison between the
Dvârapâla of the Hoa-lai temple, in ruined condition today, and those of Preah
Kô temple, either with the dress or the jewelry. The difference resides in the
position with a bending knee for the Cam model and much more upright one for
the Khmer model.


We cannot compare the Đong-duang style with any other of the Angkorian period style. It seems for many observers that this style is typically Cam, although some indications of that this is a Javanese model could be found in the attitude of the personages of the Buddhist iconography.

According to Philippe Stern, as a reaction to the Đong-duang exaggeration of
vermiculated decoration, Khu’o’ng-my art is considered as part of the end of
the Đong-duang style and beginning of the Mis’o’n A1 style, adopting some of
the Khmer influence in the decorative motives, which are of 3 kinds (10).

In summary, the Khmer influences on Khu’o’ng-my temples cannot be dated prior to the middle of the 9th century.


This Khmer influence is also noted on the superstructure of Hu’ng-thanh kalan
and on the Thap-mam sculptures. Hu’ng-Thanh imitates Angkor-Vat tower, but in the Cam way. The angle motifs below the superstructure, in the form of garuda with raised arms are Khmer in facture, as we can see the library of the end of Angkor Vat style, and at the enclosure of Preah Khan at Angkor, dating back to the first part of the Bayon style (11).


It is not an easy task to compare the dresses and hair-dresses, between these
two civilizations. If we consider the Khmer expression of art, which deals mostly
with the Gods, since even the Kings and Queens can lend as models to the physical gods’ representations, we can notice that the Khmer art tends to the idealization of physical beauty. Instead, naturalism prevails in Cam art, even in the Miso’n E1 and A1 styles. We are struck by the natural ugliness and purposeful awkwardness of the Đong-du’o’ng style, which dealt mostly with Buddhist iconography. The awe inspired by the Đong-du’o’ng Dvârapâlas is owed to this exaggerated naturalism and realism, in which the Chinese influence of the Ta’ng era may be speculated (12).

I will conclude with the presentation of two more statues of Lord Ganesha,
one at the Danang Museum (8th century) with two arms, found at Miso’n B3 temple, and the other one of the National Museum of Phnom-Penh, from Tuol Pheak Kin (Kandal Provine), both seated in the same vajrâsan (looser one for the Khmer model) fashion with the frontal third eye, which for the Khmer Ganesha is a lozenge one, often used in Campa of the Đong-duang period. There stops the comparison, for the Khmer model is much more naturalistic and devoid of any decoration as the Cam model… The way the Cam deity is seated, crossed legs under, at the later period, like the Siva of Yang Mum (15th century), can also be seen in the Khmer post-Bayon period.

We purposely omit to talk about other influences on Cam art, like those of
the Dvâravatî sculpture at Prah Pathom, as well as Annamese art with the end
of the Dong-duang vermiculated exaggeration and with Thap-mam. The obvious influence from India in some decorative motifs, like the kudus of the 6-8th centuries at Kañcîpuram and Bahur with its lion head, and from Java throughout the Cam periods, especially at the Miso’n A1 style. The Chinese influence dealt not only with art, but also with technical warfare and weaponry (13).

May the Lord Remover of Obstacles, Ganesha, grant this Conference all the successes, all of you deserve.

(1) Vo Canh inscription: