THE CHAM

The Cham reside on the central coast and along the Mekong Delta. Their history goes back to the 2nd century when parts of South and Central Vietnam were known as the Kingdom of Champa. Champa was dissolved in the 15th century but elements of their ancient civilization can still be seen in the continued strength of their culture, craftsmanship and religion. The Cham are considered to be the root of Muslimism in Vietnam; however, Hinduism is also practiced depending on the region. Cham girls and women typically wear headscarves to cover their hair in accordance with their religious beliefs.

In Chau Doc, in the Mekong Delta area, it is still possible to witness families making their silk costumes worn in everyday life. In An Giang, only a few families still use traditional weaving techniques, but they now use industrially dyed cotton rather than silk. A typical piece of fabric is made of 3,000 threads. Younger generations are not interested anymore in this tradition because of its complexity. However, Cham costumes are unique and worth being seen.

The man featured in this photograph inspired me in a special way, that’s why I took a photo of him when I usually only capture portraits of women dressed in their traditional costumes.

 

Population

161,729 (Census 2009)

Location

Ninh Thuan, Binh Thuan, Ho Chi Minh City and An Giang Provinces

Arrival

Austronesian founder of the Kingdom of Champa, from the 2nd century