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Far East Kingdoms

South East Asia


Lâm Ấp / Lin Yi (Cham?) (Pre-Angkor Vietnam)
AD 192 - 757?

Along the easternmost coastal area of Iron Age South-East Asia were the Austronesian Cham people, seafaring settlers who reached the region from Borneo in continuous waves between about 1000 BC and AD 200. Cham people emerged into history as part of the Sa Huỳnh culture of what is now central and southern Vietnam. They communicated in their own language group, with this being a division of the wider Malayo-Polynesian family.

To the south of the Cham people, around the Mekong delta in the first century AD, was the kingdom of Funan. This state would heavily influence the Cham people with its own Indianised culture, while the later Khmer would evolve along similar lines to the Cham, and would maintain close links. To the north was the occupied Nam Viet region.

The Cham were not a single group or tribe. Instead they consisted of multiple groups or tribes, many of which formed their own polities for at least part of the millennium and-a-half of independent Cham existence during the Iron Age and medieval period. Cham people of Xianglin county (near today's Huế in central Vietnam) revolted in AD 100, due to high taxes. They plundered and burned down Late Han centres until the rebellion was put down in the same year.

In AD 136 and 144 people in this region launched two further rebellions which provoked mutinies in the imperial army. It appears that the governor of Jiaozhi tricked them with offers of clemency into surrendering. A fresh revolt under the leadership of Khu Liên in AD 192 was more successful.

The independent central Vietnamese kingdom of Lâm Ấp was the result (known in Chinese records as Lin Yi). Warfare would continue for centuries with 'Chinese Dominated Nam Viet'.

Although this kingdom is usually considered to be the starting point for Cham kingdoms, it is far from clear whether its kings were ethnic Chams. There is the suspicion that they may have been non-Cham northerners, perhaps non-Sinicised Viet or another group on the borders between Viet and Cham territories. Even so, the kingdom assimilated the heavy Indian influences of the south in favour of the Sinicised influences of the north and would pass those onto its successor state of Champa.

Traditional House, Vietnam

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from Vietnam: A New History, Christopher Goscha, from Early Mainland Southeast Asia, C Higham (River Books Co, 2014), from Southeast Asia: A Historical Encyclopaedia, from Angkor Wat to East Timor, Keat Gin Ooi (ABC-Clio, 2004), and from External Links: Cultural elements of Cham Pa in Dai Viet capital and its vicinity, Nguyen Tien Dong (TiaSang.com), and Encyclopaedia Britannica, and Vietnam (Countrystudies), and Vietnam in the First State Foundation Period (Vietnam National Museum of History), and The Indianized States of Southeast Asia, George Coedès (Walter F Vella (Ed), Susan Brown Cowing (Trans), University of Hawaii Press, 1968, and available online via the Internet Archive).)

AD 100

The 'Second Chinese Domination of Vietnam' is generally peaceful, despite a dedicated process of Late Han Sinicisation taking place. The Cham people of Xianglin county (near today's Huế in coastal central Vietnam) still revolt though, due to high taxes.

My Son Sanctuary in Vietnam
The kingdom of Lâm Ấp was about the first state to emerge in what is now central Vietnam, with the Nam Viet to their north and various independent Cham groups to their south, while Funan formed their most important neighbour, with relations between the two usually being friendly

136 & 144

Again during the 'Second Chinese Domination of Vietnam', the Cham refuse to be fully controlled by the Late Han. In AD 136 and 144 they launch two further rebellions which provoke mutinies in the imperial army. It appears that the governor of Jiaozhi tricks them into surrendering by means of offers of clemency.


A local leader named Chu Đạt revolts with an army of four or five thousand behind him. The Chu Đạt Rebellion ends in a massacre, with perhaps half of the army being beheaded.


Chu Đạt

Cham rebel leader in Nam Viet. Mostly likely killed.


The people of what is now central Vietnam revolt yet again during the 'Second Chinese Domination of Vietnam'. This time, under Khu Liên (Ch'u-lien to the Chinese - the name is in fact a title, with 'khu' meaning 'lord'), they remain undefeated.

They found the independent central Vietnamese kingdom of Lâm Ấp (or Lin Yi in Chinese records). Its southern border touches the north-eastern border of Funan.

Mekong Delta
Now due to disappear beneath the sea by about 2100, the Mekong delta played an important part in the development of early Cambodia and Vietnam

192 - ?

Khu Liên / Ch'u-lien

A title. Founded the Cham (?) state of Lâm Ấp.

220 - 230

The descendants of Khu Liên take advantage of the 'Three Kingdoms' civil war period which terminates the Late Han dynasty. At the end of the Sa Huỳnh culture period, between 220 and 230, one of the warring kingdoms sends an embassy to Lii Tai, governor of Guangdong (formerly Kwangtung, near Hong Kong) and Tonkin (formerly Chiao-chih in Chinese Vietnam).

It is in connection with this embassy that the names Lâm Ấp (Lin Yi) and Funan appear for the first time in a Chinese text. The offer of tribute from these southern kingdoms is purely a formality, especially based on later events.


The armies of Lâm Ấp rise to pillage the villages of the north during the 'Second Chinese Domination of Vietnam'. Following a heavily-fought struggle on the bay to the south of Ron they also manage to capture and secure the territory of Ch'u-su.

Sa Huynh culture pottery of southern Vietnam and Cambodia
The Unesco World Heritage Site of Hoi An Ancient Town houses the Museum of Sa Huynh Culture, which contains more than two hundred artefacts from this culture in central and southern Vietnam of 1000 BC to AD 200


Fan Hsiung of Funan, a grandson of Khu Liên of Lâm Ấp in the female line (revealing the beginnings of Cham influence on eastern areas of Funan), renews attacks against the Chinese of the 'Second Chinese Domination of Vietnam' in conjunction with the people of Lâm Ấp itself.

In fact Fan Hsiung may even rule in Lâm Ấp from this point forwards (where he is also known by the non-Chinese form of his name, shown second below).

c.270? - 284

Fan Hsiung / Pham Hung

King of Funan, and seemingly also in Lâm Ấp.

284 - 336

Fan Yi / Pham Dat

Son. In Funan too? Died. Last of the 1st dynasty.


Fan Yi sends the first official embassy to 'Three Kingdoms' China following the conclusion of its civil war. His counsellor is Wen, identified as being either Chinese or a Sinicised Viet native who has settled in Lâm Ấp and who plays an important role in the kingdom.


The unexpected death of Fan Yi allows Wen to succeed him as Fan Wen, in Lâm Ấp at least, having sidelined more direct candidates over the years of his ascendancy from at least 284.

Map of Three Kingdoms China AD 220-263
In AD 220 the Late Han Chinese empire was officially transferred to the Wei or Cao Wei dynasty, and their opponents simply had to respond (click or tap on map to view full sized)

336 - 349

Fan Wen / Pham Van

Former counsellor to Fan Yi. Increased Indianisation.

340 - 349

Fan Wen has already pacified the savage tribes on his northern border. He requests of the weakened Eastern Jin Emperor Sima Yan the right to set his border at Hoành Sơn Mountain (today in Vietnam) to gain the fertile lands of Rinan (formerly Jih-nan, in Vietnam).

While the emperor dithers, Fan Wen goes ahead in 347 and sets his border anyway. Two years later he dies during an exploratory mission along the new border, having completed his desired expansion of the state.

Much of South-East Asia now undergoes renewed Indianisation, mainly during the second half of the fourth century AD. This is frequently ascribed to Samudragupta of the Gupta dynasty and his wide-ranging conquests which force outwards migrations into South-East Asia.

Coins issued by Chandragupta I
The Guptas issued a large number of gold coins, the two sides of this example being of a 'King & Queen on Couch / Vaikuntha' type from the reign of Chandragupta I

349 - 380

Fan Fo / Pham Phat / Pham Buddha

Son. Less successful.

351 & 359

Fan Fo continues his father's policy of pushing the kingdom's borders northwards. He is less successful however, with unsuccessful campaigns in 351 and 359. He is required to restore Rinan to Chinese control and to send embassies (in 372 and 377).

380 - 413

Fan Hu Ta / Bhadravarman?

Son or grandson. Killed or disappeared after a defeat.


Fan Hu Ta (Pham Ho Dat) is ordinarily identified with Bhadravarman, whose Sanskrit name is known from the inscriptions he leaves in Quảng Nam and Phú Yên (in today's central Vietnam).

This is based on the probable date of the inscriptions - around AD 400 - although the possibility exists that the inscriptions are several decades older, which would mean ascribing them to Fan Fo. His name could be an exact Chinese transcription of 'Bhadravarman'.

399 - 413

Fan Hu Ta invades Rinan in 'Chinese Vietnam' in 399 but is defeated. Encouraged by the anarchy which marks the gradual collapse of the Eastern Jin dynasty in China, he renews his incursions in 405 and 407. In 413 he embarks on a new expedition into the territories to the north of Rinan and is never seen again after his army is defeated.

Eastern Jin dynasty
Despite losing the north, the Eastern Jin still controlled a vast swathe of territory in the south in which they were generally safe and secure from the kingdoms of the north


Ti Chen / Pham Dich Chon

Son. Abdicated to visit India, leaving kingdom to civil war.


Ti Chen abdicates the throne and travels to India. He is possibly responsible for an inscription there which seems to record the visit of a former king from foreign lands.

In Lâm Ấp it seems that the kingdom undergoes a brief civil war to decide who will succeed. That successor is someone (perhaps a nephew) who appears in an inscription of the seventh century AD under the name of Manorathavarman (Ma Nola Dat Ba Ma).

413 - c.420?


Nephew? Indianised name form only. Fate unknown.

420 - 421

With the fall of the Eastern Jin, records-keeping in relation to the South-East Asian states seems also to collapse. Events are now no longer at all clear. Around 420 a king of obscure origin appears who calls himself Yang Mah, 'the Prince of Gold'.

Following an unsuccessful raid in Tonkin he requests investiture from the Liu Song court in 421. He also dies in the very same year, leaving his nineteen year-old son to succeed under the same name - Yang Mah - and to continue to engage in piracy to the north of his kingdom.

Liu Song coin
This four Zhu coin was issued during the reign of Emperor Wu Ti, founder of the Liu Song dynasty following his murder of two of the preceding Eastern Jin emperors


Pham Dich Van

Brother. Fate unknown. Last of the 2nd dynasty.

420 - 421

Yang Mah 'Prince of Gold'

Origin obscure. Chinese name form only. Died.

421 - 446

Yang Mah / Pham Duong Mai (II)

Son. Died broken-hearted.


The younger Yang Mah sends more than a hundred ships to pillage the coasts of Rinan. The Liu Song court reacts vigorously and, whilst Yang Mah is absent, they lay siege to Ch'u-su (close to Ba Don on the northern bank of the Song Gianh in today's Vietnam). A storm reduces their efforts though.


Shih-li-t'o-pa-mo of Funan presents a petition to Emperor Wen Ti of the Liu Song (424-453). The same records which note this event also note the fact that Funan refuses to support a planned expedition by Yang Mah to capture Tonkin which is part of 'Chinese Vietnam'.


Stronger than ever Cham excursions have been hitting the north. The new governor of Tonkin, one T'an Ho Chih, undertakes strong repressive measures. Renouncing the negotiations in which the Chams had shown most remarkably bad faith, T'an Ho Chih renews the abandoned siege of Ch'u-su, which he takes and sacks.

Cham women at the Kate festival
The important Kate Festival, or Mbang Kate, is organised by the Cham people in southern Vietnam, lasting three days at the beginning of October in the three Champa towers (Po Nagar, Po Klong Garai, and Po Rome)

Another battle delivers the Cham capital to the Liu Song. They pilfer forty-five thousand kilos of pure gold while the king dies, shattered by the immensity of his defeat.

446 - c.480?

Fan Chen Ch'eng / Devanika?

Son or grandson. Killed by the usurper.

fl 480 - 492

Tang-ken-ch'un / Chiu-ch'ou-lo

Usurper. Son of a king of Funan? Dethroned.


A monk named Nagasena is sent by Funan to offer gifts to the Southern Qi emperor and to ask the emperor for help in conquering Lâm Ấp. This seems to make Funan's neighbour an enemy for the first time, but this antagonism stems from the presence on the throne of the usurper, Tang-ken-ch'un. The requested help is not forthcoming.

491 - 492

The usurper still reigns under the name Fan Tang-ken-ch'un and, in 491, is recognised by the Southern Qi court as king of Lâm Ấp. In the following year, 492, he is dethroned by a descendant of Yang Mah, a man named Chu Nong.

492 - 498

Fan Zhunong / Pham Chu Nong

Son of Fan Chen Ch'eng. Drowned.

498 - 527

Very little is known about Chu Nong's successors, Fan Wen-k'uan, Fan T'ien-k'ai (perhaps the Indianised Devavarman), and P'i-ts'ui-pa-mo (Vijayavarman), other than the dates of embassies to the Southern Liang between 502-527. The lack of records suggests a sharp decline.

Emperor Wu Ti of Southern Liang (AD 502-549)
Emperor Wu Ti of Southern Liang is perhaps the most colourful and famous of all the Buddhist emperors of China - even though he was educated in Confucianism and was initially a follower of Taoism, he led twenty thousand people in a ceremony during which he proclaimed that he was a Buddhist

498 - 510?

Fan Wen-k'uan / Pham Van Tan

Son. Details largely unknown.

510? - 526

Fan T'ien-k'ai / Devavarman?

Details largely unknown.

526 - 529

P'i-ts'ui-pa-mo / Vijayavarman

Details largely unknown. Last of the 3rd dynasty.


A new dynasty comes to power. Subsequent rulers here bear fully Indianised names (with the Chinese form shown in the relevant notes). They are seemingly part of a new ruling house, and seemingly truly Cham even while a question mark hangs over the ethnic identity of the previous rulers of Lâm Ấp. The capital is at Kandapurpura.

529 - 572

Rudravarman I

New dynasty founder. An Indianised Cham?


The irregular route taken by Rudravarman of Funan to gain the throne seems to provoke unrest in the provinces of the middle Mekong. This movement is directed by Bhavavarman of Chen-La and his cousin, Chitrasena (Chenla), which results in the dismemberment of Funan in the second half of the sixth century.

Mahabalipuram Temple
The Pallava king, Mahendravarman I, of the early seventh century contributed greatly to architecture and promoted rock-cut temples in his kingdom such as the Shore Temple at Mahabalipuram

572 - 629


Son. Pham Phan Chi. Beset by Sui invasion.


Sambhuvarman is the most successful of the late Lâm Ấp kings. However, the Sui see his neglect in terms of paying tribute as the perfect excuse to launch an attack on the kingdom. It has allowed its defences to whither so the Sui easily take control of the northern part of the kingdom (corresponding to the Thua Thien area).

On Phong Chi is appointed as governor and the occupied territory is divided into three districts in the form of Party Chau, Nong Chau, and Chong Chau.


Keen to ensure their control over even more of the kingdom, the Sui launch a general attack on the capital at Kandapurpura. This fortified citadel is fully destroyed after months of fighting and the Chinese advance far into the countryside. The king's palace is burned to the ground and the king is forced to flee.

He sails southwards, deeper into Cham territory, to refound the kingdom in today's Quang Nam province. He orders the hasty construction of the new capital of Simhapura (or Sinhapura), meaning 'lion capital' (now Tra Kieu village in modern Vietnam's Duy Xuyen district, Quang Nam province). He names the country 'Champa', after the beautiful flower which grows abundantly in the region.

Champa flower
The Champa flower (also known as Plumeria plants, Lei flowers, and Frangipani) is the national flower of Laos, but it was also important to the Cham people of today's southern and central Vietnam


Sambhuvarman takes note of the weakening of the Sui, selecting this moment to launch a campaign to reclaim the northern territories. He succeeds, restoring full control, but his successors continue to expand their territory southwards into the home of the Cau tribes.


Funan has been the dominating power in the southern region of South-East Asia for five centuries. The death of Rudravarman in 550 may have meant the restoration of the rightful line, but it may be this very restoration which causes Chen-La to now destroy what remains of the kingdom.

629 - 645


Son. Pham Dau Le. Pursued links with Chen-La.

645 - ?


Son. Pham Tran Long. Murdered. Last of dynasty.


The date is unknown but the king, Prabhasadharma, is murdered by one of his retainers, along with all of the males in his family. Bhadresvaravarman (presumably the murderous retainer) becomes king. The kingship in this period is highly obscure.

Sri Vijaya's capital on Sumatra
Sumatra's Sri Vijaya kingdom, along with its successor, Majapahit, was one of several states of this period which transmitted South Asian (Indian) and Malay culture to pre-colonial Philippine societies



Bat Da La Beast La Ba Ma.

? - 653


Details unknown.

653 - 686

Vikrantavarman I

Chu Cat Dia. Descendant via female line of Prabhasadharma.

686 - 731

Vikrantavarman II

Son? Kien Da The Ma.

731 - 757

Lo Da La / Lútuóluó

Not of the same dynasty. Usurper? Killed? Died?


Bhadravarman II

Son? Deposed by the founder of Champa kingdom.

757 - 758

The young prince Bhadravarman is quickly deposed at the same time that Chinese records (from 758) cease to mention Lin-Yi (Lâm Ấp), replacing its kings with those of a new dynasty from 757. This is seemingly a surge of domination from the recently-conquered south but it may also represent a degree of Cham fragmentation.

Moreover, this new dynasty inaugurates the use of posthumous names which indicate the divine presence of the king after his death. This state is named by the Chinese as Huang Wang.

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