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Thứ Năm, 10 tháng 2, 2011

Cham Manuscripts and insights into the Cham mental world

by Mohamed Effendy Bin Abdul Hamid
NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE, 2007


According to Abdul Karim, a Muslim Cham working on preserving and translating Cham manuscripts, Cham manuscripts have always been regarded with suspicion by the Vietnamese authorities as they contained information that reflected the harsh actions of the Vietnamese against the Cham throughout the 18th and 19th centuries.
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This could be seen in manuscripts that allude to Emperor Minh Menh’s policies in the 19th century.74 Many Cham were arrested and Cham manuscripts were burned and destroyed in order to erase the historical and intellectual consciousness of the Cham. Similar acts of destruction were repeated following the communist victory in 1975. According to Abdul Karim, Vietnamese communist troops even used the Phanrang Cham Cultural Centre's collection of Cham manuscripts as firewood.75 Many more ancient manuscripts were subsequently destroyed.
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The manuscripts that will be introduced in this section will provide interesting historical perspectives from the Cham on Vietnamese political oppression and the inexorable expansion and control of the Vietnamese in the political, economic, cultural and social sphere. By understanding how the Cham viewed such processes, one could understand the historical basis for the dynamics of the Cham to seek “empowerment” beyond the border of Vietnam today.
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The manuscripts show a consistent political and economic marginalization of the Cham throughout history and also contained instances of the emotive dynamics of the Cham as the Vietnamese strove for domination. Such materials are firsthand accounts by the Cham themselves and more importantly will reveal that the perception of the Cham as oppressed minorities has been a long established process.
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According to Abdul Karim, Cham writers preferred to remain anonymous due to the Vietnamese repressive policies. Many Cham were afraid that they will get arrested if they were caught writing. Thirdly, most of the manuscripts were written with a heavy use of metaphors and analogies.
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It should be noted that Cham society, in the course of several hundred years, had changed. The Cham manuscripts depicted a different world. One that only existed in the past; therefore the information available in the Cham manuscripts could only reflect the historical experience of the Cham of the past and not that of the Cham in the present time. Nonetheless, despite these issues, the information from the Cham manuscripts are still relevant as they are valuable records that depict the historical experience of the Cham people themselves and must not be ignored.
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The purpose of researching the past Cham Manuscripts is to try to understand the Cham mind especially in the context of understanding how they perceive themselves as oppressed minorities.
What will be proven now is that the “oppressed minority” layer must be understood more than just in terms of how the Cham react to and against political and economic oppression. It will be shown that the Cham both Hindu and Muslim, have been historically conditioned to think and react like an oppressed minority and this is an
important feature in understanding the dynamics of the driving force that led to Cham entering other societies today.
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5.4) Insight into the mental world of the Cham of the past through Cham manuscripts
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5.4.a) Ariya Po Phaok The77

The text belongs to the Societé Asiatique de Paris. It was a report dedicated to the last king of Champa called "Po Phaok The" who reigned from 1828 to1832. The two following passages describe the stages of forceful economic domination of the Vietnamese that led to economic displacement of the Cham:
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“Di ndey patao Ming ni Mang ngap pa-mbuak jia padai jang hakak, nyu ngap galang grep nager” (Ming Mang exacted tribute and build stores throughout the whole Negara)
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“Ndey patao Cam mak ni Yuen Pakhik darak, Yuen mabai nyu ngap jhak, nyu mak ni Cam jieng halun” (The Viet took control of the markets and the Cham became like slaves)
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This text offers a unique insight to the economic and social conditions of the Cham who lived during that time. It would seem that during the years in 1828 and 1832, there seemed to be a major shift in policy in how the Cham were treated by the Vietnamese rulers. As suggested by the quotes. The Vietnamese seemed to have acquired some degree of control of the economy and the Cham became “halun” or slave. The descriptions offered by the manuscript revealed a valuable Cham perspective to the oppressive events during the years of 1828 and 1832.
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5.4.b) Ariya Po Ceng78
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This manuscript forms part of the Societé Asiatique de Paris’ collections. It describes the nature of the political relationships between the Vietnamese and the Cham, and the consequences of Vietnamese forceful hegemonic control of the Cham. Unfortunately, the period in which the events took place is not mentioned. However, the manuscript is useful as it alludes to the sense of regret felt by the Cham individual who wrote it:
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“ra jaw brei wek ka Yuen, ngap patuei saong tian takra” (why was their country given to Yuen and subjected it to their whims and fancies?)
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This sentence conveys to the reader an insight into the Cham’s sentiments during that period. The Cham words “brei wek ka Yuen”, which literally meant “given to the Vietnamese”, as a potent statement in facilitating some sort of understanding of the overwhelming sense felt by the Cham as they were dominated by the Vietnamese. It must be said that the tone, the way the manuscript was written, is oppressive, as if the writer was writing while in a dire emotional state.
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5.4.c) Ariya Tuen Phaow79
This manuscript describes the story of Tuen Phaow who is said to be from Kelantan. (The Cham thought that Kelantan was Mecca), Tuen Phaow went to Panduranga, and fought against the forces of Nguyen Anh and Tay Son in 1796: “Tuen Phaow nyu lac anak Po Gahlau, gaon Aluah tiap kau, marai pangap palei nagar” (Tuan Phaow is the son of Po Gahlau, by his side Aluah, came to rebuild the Negara)
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The words “marai pangap palei nagar,” or to rebuild the Negara, hint at the writer’s great desire to emphasize the noble intentions of Tuen Phaow. Possibly, this reflects the writer’s desire to re-establish hegemony over Cham lands, and more importantly, the need to establish a sense of a unified struggle against the Vietnamese by including the Montagnards. This could be seen in the excerpt below:
“dom Cru ni Raglai Cam Kahaow, nyu sap hatam Tuen Phaow, sanak ganreh hagait ya ni” (all of the Cru, Raglai, Cam, Kahaow…attracted to the darkness of Tuen Phaow, his power)
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5.4.d) Ariya thei mai mang deh80
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This Cham manuscript denounces the Vietnamese as intruders and the writer blames the Vietnamese as the main cause of destabilization of Cham society: “duissak sa baoh nagar, anak Yuen pa-ndar, Cam yau kerbau” (a country, the Vietnamese used, the Cham like buffaloes, They appealed to the gods for help). This statement is a powerful testament on the great sense of anger and injustice felt by the Cham at that particular moment of history. The words “Cam yau kerbau”, or “Cham are like buffaloes”, expresses feelings of humiliation and degradation. It is interesting that the Raglai, an ethnic minority group living in the Central Highlands that shared close linguistic and cultural similarities with the Cham, are also mentioned in the manuscript:
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“akak cang langik po mai, cam saong Raglai, kieng pegang ga-mbak” (waiting for the Sky god to come, the Cham and the Raglai, begging for help).
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The appeal from both Cham and Raglai people to the gods for help indicates the increased sense of desperation felt by both communities at that point of time.
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5.4.e) Ariya Hatai Paran
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The Ariya Hatai Paran82 or the story of heart of the People seems to question the future of the kingdom and Cham culture. In the following sentence, the writer notes down a prayer/invocation to Po Debitreh, one of the Cham gods.

“Likkau gi-mbak hai di po Debitreh, brei bi hu sunt ginreh, trun merai deng pakreng” (I pray to you Po Debitreh to give me great power, to come and show your power)
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The writer seems to be asking Po Debitreh for divine intervention in reminding the Cham of their heritage and past glories. This could be seen in the words: “Habien kieng hu ka paran anak Cam tamuh gok yau krung, nam mak po mang kal” (tell them to remember the glories of the Cham of old)
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The manuscript also indicates that the Cham felt increasingly desperate and fearful on their lands. But however fearful and desperate the Cham were in such an oppressive environment, the Cham relied on their memories of their past to empower them. According to Mr Abdul Karim, this was important for the Cham as they have lost their country and the only thing the Cham have is their memory of it and this, according to him was crucial in encouraging acts of resistance against the Vietnamese.
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“Anak Cam ngap menuh tuei hadei, mboh ginreh pak halei, jang merat tuei kacah” (the Cham lose direction and will follow anyone). I find such memories important as they remind the Cham of their past glories and without it the Cham will, as the quote puts it, “lose direction,” which in this context I take to mean that they might lose their identity.
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The consequence of such behaviour would only lead to, according to the writer, greater debasement of the Cham as a people and this seen n the words: “Ngap yau nan oh thau sanang blaoh pathraih, tal hadei mai ligaih, aia thei ni wek ka thei” (actions like this will only bring more self pity) The writer finally laments on the fact that the Cham will inevitably forget who they are and their history.:
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“Oh hu hadar nam muk su kei, caik pieh wek ka drei, bhum pachai tanah riya nam mak mang Po Ina Nagar Taha, trun parak tanah riya, palaik kalam di bhum nagar” (No memory of the ancestors who left legacies for us, the ancient Po Ina Nagar, whose power is within the Negara).
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The Cham manuscripts provide a view of Cham history from “within” since they were written by Cham individuals who lived in the 18th and 19th centuries. These manuscripts provide interesting insights on the deteriorating political and social climate of Cham society that existed at that time.
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It must be said that though choice of sentences had been selective and to some extent reflected only a fragment of the information available in the Cham manuscripts, it must be kept in mind that the main agenda of using the Cham manuscripts was to understand the construction of the mental world of the Cham. Though it may be argued that such a representation of the Cham may seem biased, it must be understood that the majority of the references to the Yuen (Vietnamese) people in the Cham manuscripts were of such a nature. I am just allowing the Cham manuscripts to speak for themselves and do not, in any way, advocate a bellicose stand directed against any ethnic group.
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The picture that emerges from the manuscripts depicts a sense of constant resistance to Vietnamese hegemony, and more importantly, reveal that the Cham felt oppressed as the Vietnamese at that point of time became more dominant politically and economically.
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In sum, it can be seen that the manuscripts provide invaluable insights to Cham perspectives to oppression that existed in the past. The issue that will be addressed in the following section is whether such sentiments still exist among the Cham today, and to what extent do they contribute to the development of the “oppressed minority layer” of the Cham ethnic passport. To what extent have the Cham been historically conditioned to act and think like an oppressed minority? Is there continuity? It would seem that there is and I found this out in a Cham village in southern Vietnam.
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5.5) Meeting with a Present-day Hindu Cham man in Vietnam
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My visits to Cham villages of Plei Pablap in central Vietnam, Phan Rang and to the Phan Rang Cultural centre in 2004, allowed me to talk to many Cham from various age groups. It was in Plei Pablap, during the Kate festival (Cham New Year), where I met Hung during a visit to a Cham house83 that was preparing a banquet. I was told by many Cham to participate in the festivities there. Hung, a Cham in his late twenties, was unemployed and had applied to study in a university in Hanoi to study history and was waiting for the results of his application. Hung told me to sit with him at one of the banquet tables, along with several Vietnamese (ethnic Kinh) guests which I later found out to be employers of several Cham there.
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In an attempt to start a conversation with Hung, I asked him in Vietnamese whether the “Urang Cham” (Cham people) remember any part of their history. His response was a curt “I don’t know” or “toi khong biet” and turned away from me as quickly as he could. Feeling slightly hurt, I ceased asking him questions and partook in the merriment. It was after the Vietnamese guests had left the table that Hung apologized and said that it was “No good” or “khong tot” to talk about history in front of “Urang Yun” or “Vietnamese people” during the Kate festival. I observed that Hung was obviously in a much more relaxed mood after the Vietnamese guests had left and I decided to ask him some questions about Cham history.
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He responded to the questions well. Among the most interesting part of the conversation were his perspectives on Ming Mang’s policies and the relationship that the Cham had with the ethnic communities of the central highlands of Vietnam. According to Hung, the “Urang Cham” suffered greatly during that time and it was when the Cham “lost their country” or “lihik Nagar”. Many Cham were killed or “Urang Cham pamatai lo”. In regards to ethnic communities of Central Vietnam, he mentioned that the several tribes of the Central Highlands would come down from the Highlands and would return the royal objects of the Kings of Champa that had been entrusted to them for safe keeping. According to Hung, “the forest people are of one heart with the Cham” or
“Urang glai sa hatai ngan Urang Cham”. More importantly, said Hung, “The enemy of the forest people is also the enemy of the Cham…thousand year history” or “masuh Urang Glai masuh Urang Cham…sakkarai saribuw thun”. But he laughed wryly and said:
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“Today the young Cham learn the history of the Vietnamese, Vietnamese language…heart of the Vietnamese” or “Harei ni, anak Cham magru sakkarai Yun, dalah Yun …hatai Yun”.
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Hung told me the great efforts of the Cham community in Vietnam to preserve the stories and oral histories of the Cham. He said that the Malaysians and French were active in this regard by having copies made of Cham manuscripts that were found throughout Cham villages in Phanrang. But he told me that these stories were never meant to be read on paper. They were written down so that they could be recited and remembered by those who told it and those who listened to it. Such histories were meant to be “felt”, or the listener must feel the full emotive impact of such stories especially those that described the terrible experiences of the Cham during the “wars between the Cham and Vietnamese” or “kalin Cam Yun” consumed the Cham.

The most significant thing that Hung told me was that he had always felt a lot of affinity for the stories and could reconcile the similarities between the situation of the Cham in the past with the Cham situation in the present. He related to me a story that his grandfather told him (I later found it to be similar to the Ariya Hatai Paran or “Heart of the People”), that the Cham must not forget the glory of the Cham of old. This story according to Hung was very moving as he felt that the Cham of old had already prophesied that the Cham would be “Halun”, or slaves or servants to the “Urang Yun”. He kept quiet after that. After a while, he said something that I found to be rather remarkable. Such stories became a source of inspiration for the Hindu Cham (Hung was himself a Hindu Cham), to continue to survive in an increasingly Vietnamized society.
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The “oppressed minority” layer, then, was the primary source of motivation or driving force for the Cham to enter other societies. As has been shown, there are different facets to this. The Cham in Vietnam developed a propensity to exit their country because they are reacting against being perceived and categorized as minorities. This enhanced their sense of being alienated in their own country. In addition, the economic oppression faced by the Cham, especially the Muslim Cham, also precipitated the movement to “exit” the country. The emotive dynamics that resulted such experiences, led to the Cham to be especially attracted to other cultures and traditions, which they see as more powerful. The main reason why the Muslim Cham wanted to enter other societies in Southeast Asia was because in such countries they will feel more empowered.
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The “oppressed minority” layer also revealS how the Cham, both Hindu and Muslim, have been historically conditioned to think and react like an oppressed minority and this is an important feature in understanding better the dynamics of the “oppressed minority” layer. Compared to the other set of “internal documents” in their ethnic passport, such as the “historical” layer (the historical consciousness of the Malaysian Malays of the Cham) and “religious” layer (perception of other Malay Muslims of their “Muslimness”), the “oppressed minority” layer (primary source of motivation or driving force for the Cham to enter other societies) alludes more to the inner dynamics of the
Cham mind.
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CONCLUSION
The thesis began with the question: What qualities do the Cham possess that allowed them to successfully participate in the cultural and social dynamics in societies other than their own? My answer is that the Cham had an ethnic passport, a set of “internal documents” composed of several “layers”.
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The first layer, or the “historical” layer, consists of the Malaysian Malays’ historical consciousness of the Cham, which was the result of the academic production of historical knowledge on the Cham and the publication of Malaysian Malay newspapers on issues concerning the Cham.
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The second layer, or the “religious” layer, consists of other Malay Muslims’ perceptions of Cham “Muslimness”, which eased the entry of the Cham into predominantly Malay Muslim societies. But having such a “layer” is not without consequence; it exacerbated the tensions between the different Cham communities. The third layer, or the “oppressed minority” layer, is the primary source of motivation, or even the driving force, for the Cham to enter other societies. Being politically oppressed and economically destititute in Vietnam, the Cham to sought empowerment in other countries. However this sentiment of being oppressed, according to the Cham manuscripts, has been conditioned by a history of hundreds of years of political, economic and cultural oppression. This has led the development among the Cham today of a psyche of resistance towards such domination, which has driven them to seek empowerment in other societies.

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As this thesis has shown, Cham ethnicity is used like a passport to enter other societies in Southeast Asia. Though armed only with a conventional passport, the Cham are allowed passage by the authorities through their national boundaries. This is because the Cham do possess the conventional set of “external” documents such as what one would find in a passport. But in order to pass through non-physical boundaries, such as cultural, social and religious boundaries, that demarcate entities and spaces, the Cham need, in addition, a “non-physical” or “immaterial” passport, i.e., a “set of internal documents”. This is expressed in the “historical layer”, “religious layer” and the “oppressed minority layer” which form the set of “internal documents” of the Cham ethnic passport. With both “external” and “internal” sets of documents, the Chams are able to pass through national boundaries and, more importantly, to engage in the more complex dynamics within such boundaries.
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Although in this thesis the ethnic passport framework has only been applied to the Cham context, I hope that, through further research, it can also illuminate the experience of other ethnic communities in Southeast Asia.

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