(Views expressed in this article are the personal opinion of the Author, a narration of their experience.)

The Cham People

The Malayo-Polynesian speaking peoples of Vietnam and Cambodia speak languages belonging to the Malayic group of Sundic languages. Sundic speaking peoples lived on the island of Borneo prior to their spreading to adjacent regions. From Borneo they sailed north to Vietnam, west to peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra, and south to Java and Bali. While Sundic speaking groups appear to have migrated to parts of Indonesia as early as 1500 BC, they do not seem to have arrived along the coast of Vietnam until some time around 600 BC. It is during the period 600 BC to 300 BC that Malayic groups, including the ancestors of the Malayo-Polynesian speaking peoples of Vietnam and Cambodia, migrated to eastern Sumatra, Peninsular Malaysia, and Vietnam. This migration took place at a time when the Tai Dong Son culture influenced the coastal areas of Borneo. The two events may well be related.

Chamic peoples may have made bark-cloth and not woven cloth when they first arrived on the mainland. Evidence of this might be seen in regard to the Chamic speaking Roglai and Chru. The Roglai have traditions of making bark-cloth and plaited bast fiber cloth, but not of weaving (Howard and Howard 2002: 17-18).

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This article was originally published in the "11th Biennial Symposium", Textile Society of America, 2008.