Kingdom of Funan
|Kingdom of Funan
Kingdom of Phù Nam
Kingdom of Nokor Phnom
|-||Established in the Mekong Delta of southern Vietnam||ca. 1st century|
|-||Conquered by Chenla||550|
|-||End of the Southern Funan||628|
|Currency||Gold, Silver, Pearls|
|Today part of|| Cambodia
|Part of a series on the|
|History of Cambodia|
|Dark ages of Cambodia|
Kingdom of Funan (Chinese: 扶南; pinyin: Fúnán; Vietnamese: Phù Nam; Khmer នគរភ្នំ Nokor Phnom), was the Chinese name of an ancient kingdom located around the Mekong Delta of southern Vietnam and in southern Indochina. The name is found in Chinese historical texts describing the kingdom, and the most extensive descriptions are largely based on the report of two Chinese diplomats representing the Wu Kingdom of Nanking who sojourned in Funan in the mid-3rd century A.D.; however, the name Funan is not found in any texts of local origin, and it is not known what name the people of Funan gave to their country.
Some scholars have advanced speculative proposals regarding the origin and meaning of the word Funan. It is often said that the name Funan represents a transcription from some local language into Chinese. For example, French scholar Georges Coedès advanced the theory that in using the word Funan ancient Chinese scholars were transcribing a word related to the Khmer word bnaṃ or vnaṃ (modern: phnoṃ, meaning "mountain"). However, the epigraphist Claude Jacques pointed out that this explanation was based on a mis-translation of the Sanskrit word parvatabùpála in the ancient inscriptions as equivalent to the Khmer word bnaṃ and a mis-identification of the King Bhavavarman I mentioned in them as the conqueror of Funan. It has also been observed that in Chinese the character 南 (pinyin: nán, Vietnamese: nam) is frequently used in geographical terms to mean "South"; Chinese scholars used it in this sense in naming other locations or regions of Southeast Asia, such as Annam. Thus, Funan may be an originally Chinese word meaning something like "Pacified South", and may not be a transcription at all. Jacques proposed that use of the name Funan should be abandoned in favour of the names, such as Bhavapura, Aninditapura, Shresthapura and Vyadhapura, which are known from inscriptions to have been used at the time for cities in the region and give a more accurate idea of the geography of the ancient Khmer country than the names Funan or Zhenla which are unknown in the Old Khmer language.
Like the very name of the country, the ethno-linguistic nature of the people is the subject of much discussion among specialists. The leading hypotheses are that the Funanese were mostly Mon–Khmer, or that they were mostly Austronesian, or that they constituted a multi-ethnic society. The available evidence is inconclusive on this issue.
Based on the testimony of the Chinese historians, the polity Funan is believed to have been established in the 1st century CE in the Mekong Delta, but archeological research has shown that extensive human settlement in the region may have gone back as far as the 4th century BCE. Though regarded by Chinese authors as a single unified polity, some modern scholars suspect that Funan may have been a collection of city-states that sometimes warred with one another and at other times constituted a political unity. From archeological evidence, which includes Roman, Chinese, and Indian goods excavated at the ancient mercantile centre of Óc Eo (from the Khmer អូរកែវ "Or Gaio", meaning "glass canal") in southern Vietnam, we know that Funan must have been a powerful trading state. Excavations at Angkor Borei in southern Cambodia have likewise delivered evidence of an important settlement. Since Óc Eo was linked to a port on the coast and to Angkor Borei by a system of canals, it is possible that all of these locations together constituted the heartland of Funan.
- 1 Sources
- 2 History
- 2.1 Origins of Funan
- 2.2 Apex and decline of Funan
- 3 Society
- 4 List of Rulers of Funan
- 5 References
- 6 Literature
- 7 External links
The first modern scholar to reconstruct the history of the ancient polity of Funan was Paul Pelliot, who in his ground-breaking article "Le Fou-nan" of 1903 drew exclusively on Chinese historical records in order to set forth the sequence of documented events connecting the foundation of Funan in approximately the 1st century C.E. with its demise by conquest in the 6th to 7th century. Scholars critical of Pelliot's Chinese sources have expressed skepticism regarding his conclusions.
Chinese records dating from the 3rd century C.E., beginning with the Sānguó zhì 三國志 (Records of the Three Kingdoms) completed in AD 289 by Chén Shòu 陳壽 (233–297), record the arrival of two Funanese embassies at the court of Lǚ Dài 呂待, governor in the southern Chinese kingdom of Wú 吳: the first embassy arrived between 225 and 230 AD, the second in the year 243. Later sources such as the Liáng shū 梁書 (Book of Liang) of Yáo Chá 姚察 (533–606) and Yáo Sīlián 姚思廉 (d. 637), completed in 636, discuss the mission of the 3rd-century Chinese envoys Kāng Tài 康泰 and Zhū Yīng 朱應 from the Kingdom of Wu to Funan. The writings of these envoys, though no longer extant in their original condition, were excerpted and as such preserved in the later dynastic histories, and form the basis for much of what we know about Funan.
Since the publication of Pelliot's article, archeological excavation in Vietnam and Cambodia, especially excavation of sites related to the Óc Eo culture, have supported and supplemented his conclusions. Local inscriptions found in Vietnam and Cambodia, especially the inscriptions of Tháp Mười in the “Plain of Reeds” and of Mỹ Sơn near Da Nang, have also contributed to the reconstruction of the history of Funan.
Origins of Funan
According to modern scholars drawing primarily on Chinese literary sources, a foreigner named "Huntian" [pinyin: Hùntián] established the Kingdom of Funan around the 1st century CE in the Mekong Delta of southern Vietnam. Archeological evidence shows that extensive human settlement in the region may go back as far as the 4th century BCE. Though treated by Chinese historians as a single unified empire, according to some modern scholars Funan may have been a collection of city-states that sometimes warred with one another and at other times constituted a political unity.
The ethnic and linguistic origins of the Funanese people have been subject to scholarly debate, and no firm conclusions can be drawn based on the evidence available. The Funanese may have been Cham or from another Austronesian group, or they may have been Khmer or from another Austroasiatic group. It is possible that they are the ancestors of those indigenous people dwelling in the southern part of Vietnam today who refer themselves as "Khmer" or "Khmer Krom." (The Khmer term "krom" means "below" or "lower part of" and is used to refer to territory that was later colonized by Vietnamese immigrants and taken up into the modern state of Vietnam.) It is also possible that Funan was a multicultural society, including various ethnic and linguistic groups. The only extant local writings from the period of Funan are paleographic Pallava Grantha inscriptions in Sanskrit of the Pallava dynasty, a scholarly language used by learned and ruling elites throughout South and Southeast Asia. These inscriptions give no information about the ethnicity or vernacular tongue of the Funanese.
The Book of Liang records the story of the foundation of Funan by the foreigner Hùntián (混塡): "He came from the southern country Jiào (徼, an unidentified location, perhaps on the Malaysian Peninsula or in the Indonesian archipelago) after dreaming that his personal genie had delivered a divine bow to him and had directed him to embark on a large merchant junk. In the morning, he proceeded to the temple, where he found a bow at the foot of the genie's tree. He then boarded a ship, which the genie caused to land in Fúnán. The queen of the country, Liǔyè (柳葉, "Willow Leaf") wanted to pillage the ship and seize it, so Hùntián shot an arrow from his divine bow which pierced through Liǔyè's ship. Frightened, she gave herself up, and Hùntián took her for his wife. But unhappy to see her naked, he folded a piece of material to make a garment through which he made her pass her head. Then he governed the country and passed power on to his son, who was the founder of seven cities." Nearly the same story appeared in the Jìn shū 晉書 (Book of Jin), compiled by Fáng Xuánlíng in AD 648; however, in the Book of Jin the names given to the foreign conqueror and his native wife are "Hùnhuì" 混湏 and "Yèliǔ" 葉柳.
Some scholars have identified the conqueror Hùntián of the Book of Liang with the Brahmin Kauṇḍinya who married a nāga (snake) princess named Somā, as set forth in a Sanskrit inscription found at Mỹ Sơn and dated AD 658 (see below). Other scholars have rejected this identification, pointing out that the word "Hùntián" has only two syllables, while the word "Kauṇḍinya" has three, and arguing that Chinese scholars would not have used a two-syllable Chinese word to transcribe a three-syllable word from another language. However, the name "Kaundinya" appears in a number of independent sources and seems to point to a figure of some importance in the history of Funan.
Kaundinya in the Chinese sources
Even if the Chinese "Hùntián" is not the proper transcription of the Sanskrit "Kaundinya", the name "Kaundinya" [Kauṇḍinya, Koṇḍañña, Koṇḍinya, etc.] is nevertheless an important one in the history of Funan as written by the Chinese historians: however, they transcribed it not as "Hùntián," but as "Qiáochénrú" 僑陳如. A person of that name is mentioned in the Book of Liang in a story that appears somewhat after the story of Hùntián. According to this source, Qiáochénrú was one of the successors of the king Tiānzhú Zhāntán 天竺旃檀 (“Candana from India”), a ruler of Funan who in the year 357 AD sent tamed elephants as tribute to the Emperor Mu of Jin (r. 344–361; personal name: Sīmǎ Dān 司馬聃): “He [Qiáochénrú] was originally a Brahmin from India. There a voice told him: ʻyou must go reign over Fúnán,ʼ and he rejoiced in his heart. In the south, he arrived at Pánpán 盤盤. The people of Fúnán appeared to him; the whole kingdom rose up with joy, went before him, and chose him king. He changed all the laws to conform to the system of India.”
The story of Kaundinya is also set forth briefly in the Sanskrit inscription C. 96 of the Cham king Prakasadharma found at Mỹ Sơn. It is dated Sunday, 18 February, 658 AD (and thus belongs to the post-Funanese period) and states in relevant part (stanzas XVI-XVIII): "It was there [at the city of Bhavapura] that Kauṇḍinya, the foremost among brahmins, planted the spear which he had obtained from Droṇa's Son Aśvatthāman, the best of brahmins. There was a daughter of a king of serpents, called "Somā," who founded a family in this world. Having attained, through love, to a radically different element, she lived in the abode of man. She was taken as wife by the excellent Brahmin Kauṇḍinya for the sake of (accomplishing) a certain task ...".
Kaundinya in the inscription of Tháp Mười
The Sanskrit inscription (K.5) of Tháp Mười (known as "Pràsàt Prằṃ Lovêṅ" in Khmer), which is now on display in the Museum of Vietnamese History in Ho Chi Minh City, refers to a Prince Guṇavarman, younger son (nṛpasunu—bālo pi) of a king Ja[yavarman] who was “the moon of the Kauṇḍinya line (... kauṇḍi[n]ya[vaṅ]śaśaśinā ...) and chief “of a realm wrested from the mud”.
Kaundinya in Khmer folklore
The legend of Kaundinya is paralleled in modern Khmer folklore, where the foreign prince is known as "Preah Thaong" and the queen as "Neang Neak". In this version of the story, Preah Thaong arrives by sea to an island marked by a giant thlok tree, native to Cambodia. On the island, he finds the home of the nāgas and meets Neang Neak, daughter of the nāga king. He marries her with blessings from her father and returns to the human world. The nāga king drinks the sea around the island and confers the name "Kampuchea Thipdei", which is derived from the Sanskrit (Kambujādhipati) and may be translated into English as "the lord of Cambodia". In another version, it is stated that Preah Thaong fights Neang Neak.
Other occurrences of the name "Kaundinya" in the history of Funan
The name "Kauṇḍinya" is well-known from Tamil inscriptions of the 1st millennium AD, and it seems that Funan was ruled up the 6th century AD by a clan of the same name. According to the Nán Qí shū 南齊書 (Book of Southern Qi) of Xiāo Zīxiǎn 簫子顯 (485–537) the Fúnán king Qiáochénrú Shéyébámó 僑陳如闍耶跋摩 (Kauṇḍinya Jayavarman) “sent in the year 484 the Buddhist monk Nàqiéxiān 那伽仙 (Nāgasena) to offer presents to the Chinese emperor and to ask the emperor at the same time for help in conquering Línyì (north of Campā) ... The emperor of China thanked Shéyébámó for his presents, but sent no troops against Línyì”.
Apex and decline of Funan
Funan reached the apex of its power under the 3rd-century king Fan Shiman (pinyin: Fàn Shīmàn). Fan Shiman expanded his empire's navy and improved the Funanese bureaucracy, creating a quasi-feudal pattern that left local customs and identities largely intact, particularly in the empire's further reaches. Fan Shiman and his successors also sent ambassadors to China and India to regulate sea trade. The kingdom likely accelerated the process of Indianization of Southeast Asia. Later kingdoms of Southeast Asia such as Chenla may have emulated the Funanese court. The Funanese established a strong system of mercantilism and commercial monopolies that would become a pattern for empires in the region.
Funan was superseded and absorbed in the 6th century by the Khmer polity of Chenla (Zhenla). The first inscription in the Khmer language is dated shortly after the fall of Funan. A concentration of later Khmer inscriptions in southern Cambodia may suggest the even earlier presence of a Khmer population. Despite absence of compelling evidence as to the ethnicity of the Funanese, modern scholar Michael Vickery has stated that "on present evidence it is impossible to assert that Funan as an area and its dominant groups were anything but Khmer".
Keeping in mind that Funanese records did not survive into the modern period, much of what is known came from archaeological excavation. Excavations yielded discoveries of brick wall structures, precious metals and pottery from southern Cambodia and Vietnam. Also found was a large canal system that linked the settlements of Angkor Borei and coastal outlets; this suggests a highly organized government. Funan was a complex and sophisticated society with a high population density, advanced technology, and a complex social system.
On the assumption that Funan was a single unified polity, scholars have advanced various linguistic arguments about the location of its "capital".
- One theory, based on the presumed connection between the word "Funan" and the Khmer word "phnom", locates the capital in the vicinity of Ba Phnoṃ near the modern Cambodian town of Banam in Prey Veng Province.
- Another theory, propounded by George Coedès, is that the capital was a town identified in Angkorian inscriptions as "Vyādhapura" (City of the Hunter). Coedès based his theory on a passage in the Chinese histories which identified the capital as "Temu" [特牧, pinyin: Tèmù] ; Coedès claimed this name represented a transcription from the Khmer word "dalmāk," which he translated as "hunter." This theory has been rejected by other scholars on the grounds that "dalmāk" means "trapper", not "hunter".
Unfortunately, no archaeological research has been conducted on Funan in southern Cambodia in several decades, and it is precisely this region that reputedly housed the capital or capitals of Funan.
Funanese culture was a mixture of native beliefs and Indian ideas. The kingdom is said to have been heavily influenced by Indian culture, and to have employed Indians for state administration purposes. Sanskrit was the language at the court, and the Funanese advocated Hinduism and, after the fifth century, Buddhist] religious doctrines. Records show that taxes were paid in silver, gold, pearls, and perfumed wood. Kang Tai (康泰) and Zhu Ying (朱應) reported that the Funanese practiced slavery and that justice was rendered through trial by ordeal, including such methods as carrying a red-hot iron chain and retrieving gold rings and eggs from boiling water.
Archaeological evidence largely corresponds to Chinese records. the Chinese described the Funanese as people who lived on stilt houses, cultivated rice and sent tributes of gold, silver, ivory and exotic animals.
Kang Tai's report was unflattering to Funanese civilization, though Chinese court records show that a group of Funanese musicians visited China in 263 C.E. The Chinese Emperor was so impressed that he ordered the establishment of an institute for Funanese music near Nanking. The Funanese were reported to have extensive book collections and archives throughout their country, demonstrating a high level of scholarly achievements.
Two Buddhist monks from Funan, named Mandrasena and Saṃghabara, took up residency in China in the 5th to 6th centuries, and translated several Buddhist sūtras from Sanskrit (or a prakrit) into Chinese. Among these texts is the Mahayana Saptaśatikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra, also called the Mahāprajñāpāramitā Mañjuśrīparivarta Sūtra. This text was separately translated by both monks. The bodhisattva Mañjuśrī is a prominent figure in this text.
Funan was Southeast Asia's first great economy. It became prosperous through maritime trade and agriculture. The kingdom apparently minted its own silver coinage, bearing the image of the Crested Argus or Hamsa bird.
Funan came into prominence at a time when the trade route from India to China consisted of a maritime leg from India to the Isthmus of Kra, the narrow portion of the Malay peninsula, a portage across the isthmus, and then a coast-hugging journey by ship along the Gulf of Siam, past the Mekong Delta, and along the Vietnamese coast to China. Funanese kings of the 2nd century conquered polities on the isthmus itself, and thus may have controlled the entire trade route from Malaysia to central Vietnam.
The Funanese settlement of Óc Eo, located near the Straits of Malacca, provided a port-of-call and entreopot for this international trade route. Archaeological evidence discovered at what may have been the commercial center of Funan at Óc Eo includes Roman as well as Persian, Indian, and Greek artifacts. The German classical scholar Albrecht Dihle believed that Funan’s main port, was the Kattigara referred to by the 2nd century Alexandrian geographer Ptolemy as the emporium where merchants from the Chinese and Roman empires met to trade. Dihle also believed that the location of Óc Eo best fit the details given by Ptolemy of a voyage made by a Graeco-Roman merchant named Alexander to Kattigara, situated at the easternmost end of the maritime trade route from the eastern Roman Empire. Georges Coedès said: “Fu-nan occupied a key position with regard to the maritime trade routes, and was inevitably a port of call both for the navigators who went through the Straits of Malacca and for those – probably more numerous – who made the transit over one of the isthmuses of the Malay Peninsula. Fu-nan may even have been the terminus of voyages from the Eastern Mediterranean, if it is the case that the Kattigara mentioned by Ptolemy was situated on the western coast of Indochina on the Gulf of Siam”.
Funan also benefitted from a sophisticated agricultural system that included use an elaborate system of water storage and irrigation. The Funanese population was concentrated mainly along the rivers of the Mekong Delta; the area was a natural region for the development of an economy based on fishing and rice cultivation.
Little is known about Funan's political history apart from its relations with China. The Funanese had diplomatic relations and traded with the Wu and Liáng dynasties of southern China. A brief conflict is recorded to have happened in the 270s, when Funan and its neighbour, Linyi, joined forces to attack the area of Tongking (Vietnamese: Đông Kinh, "eastern capital"), located in what is now modern Northern Vietnam (which was a Chinese colony at the time).
According to Chinese sources, Funan was eventually conquered and absorbed by its vassal polity Chenla (pinyin: Zhēnlà). Chenla was a Khmer polity, and its inscriptions are in both Sanskrit and in Khmer. The last known ruler of Funan was Rudravarman (留陁跋摩, pinyin: Liútuóbámó) who ruled from 514 up to ca. 545 AD.
The French historian Georges Coedès once hypothesized a relation between the rulers of Funan and the Sailendra dynasty of Indonesia. Coedès believed that the title of "mountain lord" used by the Sailendra kings may also have been used by the kings of Funan, since he also believed that the name "Funan" is a Chinese transcription related to the Khmer "phnom," which means "mountain." Other scholars have rejected this hypothesis, pointing to the lack of evidence in early Cambodian epigraphy for the use of any such titles.
People who came from the coast of Funan are also known to establish Chi Tu (the Red Earth Kingdom) in the Malay Peninsula. The Red Earth Kingdom is thought to be a derivation nation of Funan.
List of Rulers of Funan
|Order||Sanskrit Name||Chinese Name||Reign|
|01||Unknown||Liǔyè 柳葉 / Yèliǔ葉柳||1st/2nd century?|
|02||Unknown||Hùntián 混塡 / Hùnhuì 混湏||1st/2nd century|
|03||Unknown||Hùnpánkuàng 混盤況||2nd century|
|04||Unknown||Pánpán 盤盤||late 2nd century|
|05||unknown||Fàn Shīmàn 范師蔓||early 3rd century|
|06||Unknown||Fàn Jīnshēng 范金生||c. 230?|
|07||Unknown||Fàn Zhān 范旃||c. 230 – c. 243 or later|
|08||Unknown||Fàn Cháng 范長||after 243|
|09||Unknown||Fàn Xún 范尋||245/50-287|
|11||Candana||Zhāntán 旃檀||c. 357|
|13||Kauṇḍinya||Qiáochénrú 僑陳如||c. 420|
|14||Śrī Indravarman||Chílítuóbámó 持梨陀跋摩||c. 430 – c. 440|
|17||Kauṇḍinya Jayavarman||Qiáochénrú Shéyébámó 僑陳如闍耶跋摩||484–514|
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- Claude Jacques, “'Funan', 'Zhenla'. The reality concealed by these Chinese views of Indochina”, in R. B. Smith and W. Watson (eds.), Early South East Asia: Essays in Archaeology, History, and Historical Geography, New York, Oxford University Press, 1979, pp.371–9, pp.373, 375; Ha Van Tan, "Óc Eo: Endogenous and Exogenous Elements", Viet Nam Social Sciences, 1-2 (7-8), 1986, pp. 91-101, pp.91-92.
- Claude Jacques, “‘Funan’, ‘Zhenla’: The Reality Concealed by these Chinese Views of Indochina”, in R. B. Smith and W. Watson (eds.), Early South East Asia : Essays in Archaeology, History and Historical Geography, New York, Oxford University Press, 1979, pp.371-9, p.378.
- Hà Văn Tấn, "Oc Eo: Endogenous and Exogenous Elements", Viet Nam Social Sciences, 1–2 (7–8), 1986, pp.91–101.
- Lương Ninh, “Funan Kingdom: A Historical Turning Point”, Vietnam Archaeology, 147 3/2007: 74–89.
- See Vickery, "Funan Deconstructed"
- Pelliot, "Le Fou-nan", p.303
- Pang Khat, «Le Bouddhisme au Cambodge», René de Berval, Présence du Bouddhisme, Paris, Gallimard, 1987, pp.535-551, pp.537, 538; Amarajiva Lochan, ”India and Thailand: Early Trade Routes and Sea Ports”, S.K. Maity, Upendra Thakur, A.K. Narain (eds,), Studies in Orientology: Essays in Memory of Prof. A.L. Basham, Agra, Y.K. Publishers, 1988, pp.222-235, pp.222, 229-230; Prapod Assavavirulhakarn, The Ascendancy of Theravada Buddhism in Southeast Asia, Chieng Mai, Silkworm Books, 2010, p.55
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- Albrecht Dihle, “Serer und Chinesen”, in Antike und Orient: Gesammelte Aufsätze, Heidelberg, Carl Winter, 1984, S.209.
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- Cœdès, The Indianized States of Southeast Asia, p.36.
- Vickery, Funan Reviewed, pp.103, 132–133.
- George Cœdès, The Indianized States of Southeast Asia (translated from the French by Susan Brown Cowing). Honolulu: East West Center Press, 1968
- George Cœdès, "Études Cambodgiennes XXV: Deux inscriptions sanskrites du Fou-nan",Bulletin de l'École Française d'Extrême Orient XXXI (1931), pp. 1–12
- Louis Finot, "Notes d'Épigraphie XI: Les Inscriptions de Mi-so'n", Bulletin de l'École Française d'Extrême Orient IV (1904), pp. 918–925
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