Tuesday, 31 January 2012

CHAM and Champa

The Cham script and language have the distinction of being the oldest form of writing to represent an Austronesian language. Champa covered most of what's now Southern and Central Vietnam and parts of what's now Cambodia and this inscription comes from a site that's now in Cambodia.

The Chams were originally an Austronesian people with beliefs that mixed Hinduism with Buddhism but later became mostly Muslim as their realm dwindled and shrunk due to conflicts with the Khmer to the west and the Viets moving southwards seeking the rich farmlands of the Mekong delta.

There is a modern CHAM script used for writing and printing.

It always intrigues me that despite being used for a variety of languages the curly letter forms survived and overtook squared letter forms derived form Sanskrit  Nagari scripts.
Part of this may have been due to Indian traders coming from the SOUTHERN INDIAN countries.
THe Dravidian languages of the South also use curly letter forms.
Other factors were a cultural need for a script that could be engraved on a variety of types of stone and ALSO written on palm leafs and later paper.

Whatever the cause those letter forms are quite elegant and beautiful.

Hey don't forget to tip the blogger.
I'ld love to see these inscriptions at the original sites and make an e-book or print volume of up to date photos showing both context and fine detail. !
Plus I have a new computer to pay off!