Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Origins of the Kelantanese

Origins of the Kelantanese
by Michael Chick

Following the search for the origins of the Malaysian constitutional “malays”, my journey brings me to Vietnam. There, I meet up with the Cham people. After all, every Kelantanese I've met claim to be descendants of the Mighty Champa Kingdom.
Just who are the Cham? I met up with Dr. Hang, an Anthropologist at Saigon University, Ho Chi Minh City. According to him, the Champa Kingdom is a 2nd Century Kingdom in Central Vietnam.
From 1487, they were continously driven by the Kinh (read as Mongoloid Vietnamese) from Hanoi till Phan Thiet today. Proof of this lies in the fact that there were hundreds of Cham Towers from Hanoi till Phan Thiet (near Mui Ne Beach).

If you'd observe very carefully, you might notice how similar the Cham are to the Kelantanese. The Austronesian Cham of Vietnam look extremely similar, and wear identical headgear to almost everyone in Kelantan. Both male as well as female. Not surprising. The Champa Kingdom had long established trading ties with both the present-day Malaya, Pattani, Aceh as well as Java since the 4th Century. Multiple wars also broke out between the Kingdom of Champa with Java. Migration was simply inevitable.
The Chams were Hindus. They still are today. In fact, all the towers of the Champa Kingdom are of Hindu Origin. One may visit any Museum, from Saigon to Danang till Hanoi. They all have on display, hundreds, if not thousands of Artefacts of this mighty Ancient Hindu Kingdom. It is however, so sad to see the Chams today, getting the short-end of the stick.
Since they were driven by the Kinhs (Hanoi) down south, they live in the most hostile parts of the country. Barely getting rain, the land is almost Savannah-like in nature. Large cacti live in abundance on non-cultivated land.

Visiting the Cham produced mixed feelings. On the one hand, one comes face-to-face with the remnants of a mighty empire. On the other hand, one wonders why the Vietnamese government does little to improve the living conditions of these “bumiputras”. I proposed new theories; that the Cham were in fact the actual people of the Dong Song, Hoabinhian and Sa Hyunh Culture, much to the surprise, but delight of these Saigon Anthropologists. Previously, they only assumed that those cultures belonged to “someone else”, and that Cham History only started in the 2nd Century. Proof being the Temples and Towers. I also highlighted that the Champa Kingdom would have been the second Kingdom of the Hindunization of South East Asia. The first, being Malaya, in the site near Penang called Lembah Bujang, of the 2nd Century.

Upon further scrutiny, there seems to be a lot more than just distant historical similarities between the Cham people, and the Kelantanese. My transalator informed me that there were twin towers located in Qui Nhon. “Much like that in Malaysia”. I was dumbfounded !! I immediatle made the 300km journey. In total, I travelled over 2,000 km by road, boat, and every other imaginable transport available, visiting over 30 major Cham Tower sites along the entire coast of Vietnam.

Furiously making notes, I also found that the similarities did not stop at the fact that there were just twin towers. Cross-examining schematic diagrams of the Cham Towers and KLCC was astounding!
For example, the top and side view schematics, when overlayed, was an identical match.

The similarities did not end there, even a side profile view of the Cham towers and KLCC was a match. I could barely contain my excitement when I made these cross-comparisons. Even the
Saigon Anthropologist Professors were dumbstruck. No one had ever imagined that there was any correlation between an apparently “Muslim-built Design” with that of an Ancient Hindu one. Add to that, it was located in isolated Vietnam. For those who have visited these sites before, pull out your private photo boxes, and confirm for yourself that the pictures I have displayed here have not been doctored in any way.

Considering that Mahathir was of Indian Origin, it does not completely surprise one that he took inspiration from his ancestry in Kerala. However, one might think that it is strange that he took inspiration from 2 apparently incompatible religions to build his monumental icon. It is even stranger that despite using a Hindu-derived icon to symbolize Malaysia, the Hindraf are swept aside and marginalized. Of course, it is even stranger that Najib takes the trouble to fly in from India, Hindu Priests into his home and office to perform covert rites, as per ascertained by the Driver's Sworn Affidavits.
Can seemingly incompatible religions be jointly practised? No? Read on. This might change your mind. Think for a moment of Sai Baba's concept of “All religions lead to God” Concept. The clue lies in Vietnam. There is a Religion called CaoDai-ism. It is very widely practised. CaoDai is a merger of Confusianism, Taosim, Buddhism, Catholism, and Islam. This is a unifying and endemic religion. So is the Cham-Bani religion, which is a merger of Hinduism & Islam. Then, there are The Balinese, practising a merger religion of Animism & Hinduism. Of course, most of Java practices Kejawen which is a combination religion of Animism & Islam. So in reality, Najib's merger of Hinduism & Islam would be merely a copycat version of the Cham-Bani-type of religion of Vietnam. To add to it, he is Bugis, which makes him part Mongolian, part Arab. (No reference intended of his involvement with Altantuya). Hence his pale Mongoloid-type appearance.
Surprisingly, UMNO today has turned to worshipping a Chinese God. And that God, is called the God of Money. So, the combination religion which unites worshiping Corruption and Allah, is called BN (Blatant Narcisism). Since inter-faith combination-worship is now a known Asian trait, is it not strange that UMNO was so quick to dispense with The Sky Kingdom in Terengganu? Perhaps Sky Kingdom Worshippers were not into worshipping Corruption as UMNO fervently does. Wonder what went on in UMNO's minds. I also wonder what Hadhari actually is. (or not...) Take heart, my Hindraf friends. You now have an World Famous Icon, built by an Indian, who took direct inspiration from Hinduism. Not just one building, but a pair of twins, financed with Malaysian Petroleum money. Be proud. This is the best Hindu Representation of Malaysia, the world has ever seen; something which even Semi Value did not anticipate. Hence, his Political Demise. (or should I have said Allaryahum Semi Value??) I can imagine him going “Aiyo yoyoyo..” while smacking his forehead. I'll part, leaving you with a composite picture. Two World-Famous icons “photoshoped” together to illustrate my point. Please do not let the Khmers see this, or they would sue the pants off Malaysia like the Indonesian Parliament almost did with Rasa Sayang. Maybe the Khmer Rouge did discuss this blatant copyright infringement, maybe they did not. But I doubt Pol Pot lost any sleep over this.
I'll keep Malaysia posted at the end of my research in Cambodia.


Cham said...

" The Chams were Hindus. They still are today. "

The Chams were Hindus, yes.
But now the majority ARE Muslims.
With very small numbers, Buddhist.

But definitely not Hindus.

Jed Yoong said...

Good informative post. I've linked it on my blog. ;)
Stumbled upon you via Sakmongkol.

|1f34|-|1r3 said...

great info and analysis with detailed picture...i'm a kelantanese and i'm proud of it !

Michael Chick said...

Dear Cham, you wrote"" The Chams were Hindus. They still are today. "

The Chams were Hindus, yes.
But now the majority ARE Muslims.
With very small numbers, Buddhist.

But definitely not Hindus..."

MC: This would not be correct. If you walked into Kampong Cham or Kampong Chnnang in Cambodia, you would indeed be surrounded by Muslim Cham, with a minority of Hindus. However, there's 30,000 Chams in Vietnam. All dotted along the coast from Phan Rang till Phan Thiet. They form the bulk of the Cham. And they are all Hindu/ Cham-Bani/ Cham Brahman.

The only Muslim Chams centre in (Kampong) Chau Doc, near the Cambodian Border.

Rocky. Just curious, how did you get this Article? MT published it today, but with fewer pictures. And I only sent the "editable file" to a handful of other people to "test-water/ proof-read" it before it got released.

You can e-mail me your reply. Thanx

Michael Chick said...

Typo. 300,000 Chams in Vietnam instead of 30,000. Sorry.

j said...

The last census by the Vietnamese government put the Cham population at approximately 123,000.

Near Phan Rang in South Central Viet Nam, there are Cham Ba La Mon (or Brahman, indigenized Hindu) and Cham Ba Ni (indigenized Muslim,) with a greater majority being Cham Ba Ni.

Cham Ba La Mon and Cham Bani share many cultural practices in common, including festival days, matrilinealism, etc. Their primary difference is that the Ba La Mon cremate and the Ba Ni bury, and they consider different animals to be taboo.

In the Mekong Delta (and in Cambodia) the Cham are a more orthodox form of Sunni Islam, due to trade relations with Malays.

Cham religious history is fascinating!

Anonymous said...

There is no connection between The Petronas Twin towers in KLCC, Malaysia and the Cham Twin Tower in Vietnam. The one in Malaysia was designed by Argentinian architect Cesar Pelli and it was built in 1999. A Cham architecture escaped to Argentina in 1471 and later passdowned the technique to his descendants in the 1990???? Please check out the facts. Thanks.