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"Moving in an Endless Single Line": Memory, Exile and History in Cam Diaspora's Narrative Poems.

The history of Cam (1) diaspora in Southeast Asia spans over ten centuries. The earliest mentions of Cam leaving their homeland, Campa, (2) to settle in the neighbouring kingdoms date back to the tenth century. (3) Instances of Cam exiles moving to Cambodia have been recorded since the eleventh century. (4) Modern Khmer historical sources give accounts of the arrival of large groups of Cam refugees in the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries. (5) Yet, notwithstanding their crucial importance for the history of the Cam diaspora and the history of Cambodia, these accounts are rather succinct and matter-of-fact, as they do not offer information on the refugees, least of all their perspectives on their arrival and installation in Cambodia. In order to gain insights on Cam perspectives on exile, resettlement and history, one must leave official records aside and examine alternative sources recording history, such as personal memoirs and accounts. These unique and rare testimonies are kept in the form of narrative poems.

I first came across Cam narrative poems while working on my doctoral dissertation (Weber 2005). As my initial interest was in history and politics, I first focused on historical events as seen through Cam eyes. After the publication of my dissertation (Weber 2014), I chose to present some of my findings for an English-speaking audience through a paper I gave at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) in Singapore in 2012 and published in 2015. Lately, partly stimulated by the new impetus given to research on migrations and diasporas, but mostly moved by the tragedies that strike migrants all over the world, I decided to have another look at Cam narrative poems to reconsider their meaning and importance for Cam memory, and to put forward the universality and humanity of the exilic experience as described by the texts.

For the purpose of this article, I have used six Cam narrative poems written in the Cambodian Cam script (6) and kept in the library of the Societe Asiatique in Paris, France. It is important to keep in mind that the narratives available in France are handwritten copies of original manuscripts that were collected during the French colonial period. It seems that the original texts were left in Cambodia, while only the copies were brought back to France. Unfortunately, very little information regarding the original manuscripts, their location and their owners are provided.

Despite the wealth of information they contain, and their unique contribution to our knowledge of diasporic peoples and Southeast Asian modern history, these narratives have rarely been studied. Mohamad Zain bin Musa is the first scholar to have worked on them. For his master's thesis, he chose two narratives, manuscripts Cam 27 and CM39 (24), and provided a translation in French for each of them. (7) He later published an article in Malay summarizing his findings in 1992. (8) The same author has published two papers and a monograph on another narrative, manuscript CM39 (36), in 1999 (9) and 2012 (10) respectively. Finally, besides Mohamad Zain Bin Musa's translations in French, to date, only one complete narrative has been translated into and published in English. (11)

Cam narrative poems provide a unique glimpse into an eventful period: the last years of the eighteenth century to the 1860s. Besides offering exceptional accounts of the socio-political situation of pre-colonial Cambodia and southwestern Vietnam, these narratives also offer moving accounts of the pain of exile, the difficulty of settling in a new environment, and the relationships with the local population.

Cam Narrative Poems: Description and Purpose

Cam narrative poems are called barund. The two prominent pioneers in Cam studies, Etienne Aymonier and Antoine Cabaton, mention in their dictionary that the origin of this term comes from the Sanskrit term varna (Aymonier and Cabaton 1906, p. 328), which, among its numerous meanings, refers to poetry. (12)

Cam narrative poems do not bear titles and are anonymous. (13) However, despite the lack of precise information, a few interesting indications regarding the identity of the author(s) or copyist(s) may be found. For instance, the author of the narrative poem CM39 (36) was a court official (Cam: naman). (14) He was the head of a Cam village community in Pring (Cam: Barieng or Bareng). (15) His title, Po or "Lord", also suggests that he was of Cam royal or princely ancestry. As for the author of the narrative CM39 (37), there is no indication of his status or position. Nevertheless, it is quite clear that he was culturally very close to the Malays (16) of Phnom Penh. The linguistic choices of the author make his connection with the Malays obvious, as several Malay words and phrases, such as saranuk (Malay: seronok, "joyful"), suh sah (Malay: susah, "difficult"), brei maphuakat (Malay: beri muafakat, "to agree; to give consent"), takai tangan (Malay: kakitangan, "staff"), are used throughout the text. Finally, as for the copyists, two names are given: the brah mbalat (17) Dup, who copied the narratives CM38 (8), CM39 (37) and CM39 (38), and an individual called Cei Li, who copied the narrative Cam 27. By looking at their perfectly balanced, clear and beautiful calligraphy, it seems that both men were well versed in Cam, and it can be safely assumed that they were collaborators of Etienne Aymonier. (18)

Narrative poems are all dated in traditional Cam fashion. They use a duodecimal cycle in which each year is designated by the name of an animal, such as rat, ox or buffalo, tiger and so forth. (19) The events as well as the names or titles of some characters recalled help us to identify the historical period covered by the poems and the likely date of composition. The oldest narrative, CM39 (24), covers the period between 1785-86 and 1788-89. The narrative Cam 27 covers a long period of time: from the late eighteenth century to 1812-13. (20) The narrative CM38 (8) describes the events that happened in 1843-44. The narrative CM39 (36) covers the period between 1858-59 and 1862-63. Finally, the narrative CM39 (37) does not mention a time period. However, the events described--such as the French and Spanish attacks of Vietnamese outposts in the Mekong Delta and the subsequent imposition of French rule in southern Vietnam--are clearly identifiable, and therefore we may safely presume that it describes the period between 1862 and 1863.

It should be noted that Cam narrative poems were not meant to be read silently; they were meant to be chanted or recited (Cam: bad) before an audience (CM39 [37], p. 559). Cam poetic attitudes were social, and narrative poems were chanted in a gathering or assembly. (21) Most of the narratives start with the two words "gap yac" (O people!) (CM38 [8], p. 49; CM39 [36], p. 534), as a direct address to an audience, and these two words may be repeated throughout the text. (22) Poets occasionally use the phrase "pang bai" or "Listen well!" (CM38 [8], pp. 49-50 ff.), to place emphasis on a specific plot point or event, which confirms the orality of the text. The reciters would give life to the texts and, using tone and inflection, help the listeners to not only imagine the events depicted but also to experience them and engrave them in their memories. As Valensi and Wachtel (1986, p. 4) put it: "To remember... requires a personal involvement in the drama".

Narrative poems put forward the duty to remember (Cam: hadar) (23) (CM39 [37], p. 539) the Cam experience and to keep it (Cam: rumiek) (CM38 [8], p. 49) for the next generation. Besides exile and the sense of loss, narratives bring to life historical events and allow the Cam to relate to them. Composing and reciting narratives provide a way of tracing social origins. Cam diaspora's narratives offer an emotional link to the Cam by providing the story of their forefathers and the places they had inhabited. Narrative poems also explain the origins of the community and root it firmly in history. These narratives are a vital part of establishing and reaffirming group identity, as upon listening to a narrative, the audience is powerfully reminded that exile is an intrinsic and indefectible part of the Cam identity. It is quite possible that the recitation or chanting of the poetic narratives created an atmosphere of solidarity and clearly served as a means to reinforce intra-community ties and bonds. As personal pronouns are rarely used in the texts, (24) each narrative speaks of 'us' and 'ours', and provides a unique avenue for the Cam listeners to make the events recalled part of their memory and identity. Therefore, narratives offered Cam listeners a connection, a reaffirmation of a "unity within the community" and "a sense of empathy", as defined by Cummings (2002, p. 57) in his work on Makassar historical texts. They offered an emotional link to the past--invaluable for communal identity.

One can find interesting similarities between Cam narrative poems and other Southeast Asian literary traditions that keep alive historical events crucial for collective memory and community bonds. For instance, the Cam diaspora's baruna bear noteworthy resemblances to the central Vietnam Cam's ariya (verse). Throughout the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the ariya form has been used to record watershed events in Cam history that had a tremendous impact on Cam historical memory, such as the popular revolts against the Vietnamese occupation of Pandurahga (25) (Campa), the rapid imposition of Vietnamese rule, (26) and the final destruction of Panduranga as a distinct political and cultural entity. (27) Furthermore, parallels with the Malay syair (28) (verse) and some Khmer family chronicles may be drawn. These works too are written in verse and are often used for recording and commemorating an event. I found interesting similarities between the Cam baruna and the nineteenth century Malay syair recording the anxieties of the Malays towards British rule in Singapore; for instance, the Syair Dagang Berjual Beli, literally "The Verse of Commerce", the Syair Potong Gaji or "The Verse of Salary Cuts", and the Syair Tuanku Prabu di Negeri Singapura or "The Verse of His Highness Prabu in Singapore" (Muhammad Haji Salleh 1991, pp. 155-76, and 1994). I also found nineteenth century Cam narrative poems remarkably close to what the scholars Sri Wulan Rudjiati Mulyadi and Suryadi have called "journalism poem" (Malay: syair kewartawanan), which typically features "eyewitness reports of diverse real-life events, including events of historical importance, political development and natural disasters" (Suryadi 2012, pp. 8-10). Finally, there are a few notable resemblances between the Cam narratives and the two nineteenth century Khmer sastra (manuscripts) chronicling events that happened during the Vietnamese annexation of Cambodia as seen through the eyes of a monk related to a high-ranking official at the royal court: the Sastra voat kroch srok Prey Chho khet Kdmpung Cham, literally "Manuscript of the Kroch pagoda, khum (commune) of Kroch, srok (district) Prey Chho, Kampung Cham province", and the Sastra Ibaek roba khsat phendey Outeyreachea Ang Chan, "Manuscript recounting the lineage of King Outeyreachea Ang Chan". These two sastra were composed by the monk Batum Baramey Pich. (29)

History, Exile and Memory

Cam narrative poems reveal less about events than their meanings. Narratives put emphasis on events that had a major impact on Cam memory and identity. Attachment to a particular place, exile, the journey and the new beginnings in a foreign--if not inhospitable--environment are fundamental to diasporic identity, and hence central to the narratives.

It is interesting to note that none of the six narratives makes the slightest allusion to Campa, the original homeland of the Cam. Famous names like Panrang or Parik, (30) which can otherwise be found in other types of sources such as royal genealogies, (31) are completely absent. Likewise, none of the dramatic events that eventually led to the destruction of Panduranga (32) and its final disappearance as a political entity are recalled. Through the narratives, Cam do not seek to reconnect their communities with a distant past and faraway place: on the contrary, they firmly root the history of the Cam in Cambodia and southwestern Vietnam, and reaffirm Cam's perfect integration.

Let us look at the historical events that constitute the backbone of the narrative poems. Of the six narratives I studied, three--Cam 27, CM39 (24) and CM39 (38)--deal with the exile of Po Cei Brei, former ruler of Panduranga, to Cambodia in 1795-96, his sojourn in the mountainous region of Donnai (33) and his final installation in Rong Damrei (34) (Cam: Rung Tamari) in 1812-13. Po Cei Brei was formerly governor of Panduranga; his exile took place in the midst of the war that opposed the Tay Son to Prince Nguyen Anh. From the beginning of the hostilities in the south of Vietnam, Panduranga and the Cam were involved in the conflict. Both the Tay Son and Nguyln Anh tried to rally Panduranga's political elite and population to their cause, as well as take control of Pandurahga's territory. Following a rift between him and Nguyen Anh, Po Cei Brei and his followers left Panduranga to take refuge in Cambodia, in the Rokapopram (Cam: Rakapapram) region, where he stayed for twenty-five years, from 1795-96 to 1812-13. The narrative does not inform us of the reasons of Po Cei Brei's choice. Did he choose this region because of its existing Cam population? And in that case, did he have familial, social or political ties with the Cam of the Rokapopram community? These questions remain unanswered. Po Cei Brei did not stay in Cambodia; in 1812 he fled to south Vietnam where he sought protection from the high-ranking Vietnamese officials (Cam: ung ndak thang kau) (35) of the Six Southern Provinces (36) (CM39 [38], p. 540)--most probably Le Van Duyet (37) himself, the governor-general of the Six Provinces. Po Cei Brei's second exile was caused by the Siamese invasion of Cambodia. This exile shows without any doubt that Po Cei Brei's links with the Vietnamese were never broken and had remained somewhat strong. Through Le Van Duyet, the emperor agreed to settle him in Vietnam, but not on the land that Po Cei Brei was originally from, such as Pandurahga. Po Cei Brei was instead sent to the Rong Damrei region, in today's southwestern Vietnam. (38) Soon after his installation, Po Cei Brei was awarded the title of captain of battalion (Cam: cang/ceng from the Vietnamese: chuong co) (CM39 [38)], p. 546) and was granted all the privileges usually bestowed on founders of new colonies, such as exemption from labour requirements (Cam 27, p. 39). Vietnamese authorities further honoured Po Cei Brei, and offered him silk and rifles (CM39 [38], p. 546). Until his death, Po Cei Brei had the opportunity to prove his allegiance and faithfulness towards the Vietnamese court several times as he defended the colony against internal rebellions such as the revolts of Phauw Bo and Sulutan (CM39 [38], pp. 544-45).

The narrative poem CM38 (8) provides a precious account of the forced displacement and resettlement of Cam from Phnom Penh (Cam: Na Mbin) (39) in the Chau D6c region (40) from 1843-84. This migration took place when Phnom Penh and eastern Cambodia were under a Vietnamese protectorate (1820-48). (41) The narrative points out that the Cam who were displaced to southwestern Vietnam were clients (42) and followers of the young Queen Ang Mei--a puppet ruler put on the throne of Cambodia by the Vietnamese. (43) This patron-client relationship between the Cam and Queen Ang Mei is expressed in the text by the phrase "gun putau" or "person(s) at the service of the king" (CM38 [8], p. 49). The narrative further clearly states that the Cam were to follow their patron and sovereign--whom they respectfully call "tuan" and "tuanku" or "His/Her Highness" (CM38 [8], p. 49)--captive of the Vietnamese (CM38 [8], p. 59). Due to the widespread outburst of an anti-Vietnamese revolt in Cambodia and the military intervention of Siam against Vietnam, the Vietnamese took the decision to temporally withdraw to their military outposts and strongholds in southwestern Vietnam. They did not depart alone, as they had captured the queen, (44) high-ranking court officials and a significant part of the Phnom Penh population. (45) The author of the narrative does not name the place, or places, where the Cam were supposed to have been relocated: he simply writes "yuan"--the term used for Vietnam and the Vietnamese in historical documents in the region. (46) It is quite possible that the names of the exact locations were kept secret by the officials in charge of the displacement. Once they reached Vietnam, the Cam were established in existing Viet-populated villages and communes, as planned by the Vietnamese authorities. We understand that some of them were sent to Koh Kapou (Cam: Kapu) (47) (CM38 [8], p. 83) and Lama (Cam: Lam Ma) (CM38 [8], p. 87). The relocation in Viet-populated villages should not surprise us, as the Vietnamese imperial authorities were actively promoting the cultural and administrative homogenization of the south. (48) Once they were established in their new hamlets, (49) the Cam were given weapons (CM38 [8], p. 87), which confirms that the Vietnamese had no intention of bringing them back to Phnom Penh but to settle them permanently in southwestern Vietnam: they would be colonists.

The narrative poem CM39 (36) provides a unique description of two major displacements that occurred in the wake of the treason (Cam: mbac) and flight (Cam: nduac tagaok) of the powerful Cam-Malay Minister Tuan Him. (50) These two dramatic events were quickly followed by the outburst of a revolt of some Cam and Malay villages in the Thbaung Khmum province in 1858-59. (51) Although the narrative poem does not give any details regarding the uprising, we know from modern Khmer, Vietnamese and French sources that the revolt was quickly quelled by royal forces. The leaders of the insurrection managed to flee to southwestern Vietnam, in Chau Doc, (52) where they received the assistance of the local authorities. Unfortunately, most of the population of the rebelling villages--numbering from 5,000 to 6,000 individuals (Khin 1991, p. 139)--were unable to follow their leaders. They were brutally punished. Villages were surrounded and the adjacent forests set on fire to prevent people from fleeing and to suffocate those who had managed to take refuge there (CM39 [36], p. 482). The narrative adds that men were tied up and beheaded "without any reason" (CM39 [36], p. 501), which implies that even people who had nothing to do with the insurgents were put to death. After the massacre, the royal forces decided to deport the remaining population. Families were split apart and people enslaved. (53) They were eventually deported to various localities in Kandal (Cam: Ka-ndaol) province, such as Chrang Chamres (Cam: Crang Camaraih) (CM39 [36], p. 500). All figures of authority--traditional village authorities (Cam: tuari) (54) or members of the Khmer provincial administration (Cam: mbalat, "provincial lieutenant")--were treated as war prisoners (Cam: rambep) (55): their bodies were tattooed and their hair cut, their relatives were dispersed and reduced to slavery, their properties seized and redistributed (CM39 [36], p. 501). Khmer and French historical documents confirm this forced displacement. According to the Khmer Royal Chronicles, the Cam were resettled in various places around Phnom Penh, Ponhea Loeu, Kompong Luong and Longvek (Khin 1991, p. 139). Bishop Jean-Claude Miche (56) mentions the pitiful fate of the Cam who, "reduced to live off their tears", were begging for food and help (Khin 1991, pp. 139-40). A few months later, the leaders of the rebellion came back to Cambodia to free the members of their families, their relatives and friends. The narrative does not inform us of how many Cam were able to flee, but it does mention the consequences of the return of the leaders: as a retaliation, all Cam men deported in Kandal were taken to the royal palace and put to death (CM39 [36], p. 499). The ordeal of the deported Cam seems to have ceased--at least for some of them--after the death of King Ang Duong (57) in 1859. The narrative mentions that the leaders of the rebellion came back from Vietnam, pledged allegiance to Prince Norodom, (58) and "asked for their wives" (Cam: lakau hudiep), that is to say, they asked for the members of their families and friends to be released (CM39 [36], p. 512), to which Norodom agreed.

The second forced displacement occurred in the aftermath of the rebellion and was imposed on King Ang Duong's own Cam allies and clients. These Cam were ordered to leave their village in Thbaung Khmum province, Pring (Cam: Barieng or Bareng), and settle "near him" (CM39 [36], p. 497), that is to say, near the royal capital Oudong, in Prey Pis (Cam: Brei Bih) and Chhuk Sar (Cam: Chuk Sauw) (CM39 [36], p. 499). (59) King Ang Duong's decision was highly strategic: by ordering his Cam allies to move to the new location, he made sure that his allies were not far from the royal residence. In the case of another conflict or an attack, they would be able to intervene quickly to protect the royal palace. Furthermore, displacing the Cam to two locations near the capital Oudong was also a way to break up the remaining community and village networks in Thbaung Khmum and place the Cam firmly under his control. Also, symbolically speaking, by granting the Cam new lands to settle near his capital, the king rewarded his allies for their support and faithfulness.

Finally, Cam narrative poems underline the political and strategic importance of the migrations and the migrants themselves. The three major migrations that occurred in 1843-44 and 1858-59 were supervised either by Vietnamese or Khmer officials, which underlines the political significance of the displacements of populations. The narrative CM38 [8] mentions that the Cam were escorted by soldiers and corporals (Cam: nday and kai nday). (60) At least two high-ranking and powerful Vietnamese officials in charge of the colonization of Eastern Cambodia--called eng (61) in Cam--were present too: the nduk mbu (Vietnamese: ddc bo), commander of the infantry troops, (62) and the teng kuin (Vietnamese: tuong quan), the military official in charge of the direction and administration of a specific area. As for the narrative CM39 (36), the poem states that high-ranking Khmer dignitaries and their armies were escorting the Cam through at least some significant portions of their journey: this included the governor of the province of Baphnom (Khmer: dhammd tejo; Cam: tham-maju), the king's envoy (Khmer: varanatha sena; Cam: waor ranyat), and the minister of war (Khmer: cakri, Cam: cakrei).

Cam Perspectives on Exile and Resettlement

Cam narrative poems are first-hand accounts of the poignant experience of migration, exile, forced displacement and resettlement in unknown--if not totally foreign--environments. They put forward that migrations and resettlement profoundly disrupted Cam way of life and traditions. Cam narratives underline the long-term social and psychological impact of exile and relocation. They show that leaving one's village or place of origin is a traumatic experience which inevitably leads to unhappiness. The narrative CM38 (8), for instance, vividly depicts the panic and profound sadness of the Cam of Phnom Penh in 1843-44, who were on the verge of being displaced to southwestern Vietnam. As they were leaving their homes "in an endless single line on the roads" (Cam: klak palei mat tang jalan), the Cam were weeping profusely. Desolation made people "trip over their own feet" (CM38 [8], p. 49). The words paint a powerful image: the poet uses the word "titeh", which is also used for the hesitant, clumsy and slow gait of a young child learning to walk. This choice of word vividly illustrates the feelings of the Cam. They were like children: afraid of walking away from something they knew, yet unable to turn back. Panic had stricken the population and chaos soon arose (Cam: wi waow). (63) Some Cam families even tried to run away and hide (CM38 [8], p. 49). However, despite not knowing precisely where they were being moved to, it is striking that the Cam were acutely aware of the challenges that migration and relocation would entail. They knew that they would need money to buy food throughout the journey and eventually to settle. The narrative recounts that the Cam pondered the question of what trading activity they could practise to survive.
[We] were thinking: over there [in Vietnam], tobacco was sold at a high
price. Some had fabric and clothes chests. It was necessary to sell
them all. They gathered all the clothes [they could get], even the ones
that were tied on their own bodies to sell them and trade them for
tobacco. Some demanded what people owed them to be paid back to buy
tobacco [leaves]. They were going to leave and [never] come back. Debts
could be settled by bartering tobaco [leaves]. (64). We gathered things
to sell [in order to buy] rice and paddy throughout the long [journey].
(CM38 [8], p. 54)

Cam narrative poems are also exceptional accounts of the difficulties faced by Cam migrant communities and their integration to their new environment. For instance, according to Cam accounts, in 1843-44, the displaced Cam from Phnom Penh were appalled upon realizing that they would not be settled in one place but separated from each other and settled in different hamlets or villages (Cam: phum).
[The population] was gathered in a camp. Nobody knew where they would
be taken. From morning to evening to the next day [the population
inquired]. They did not know where they were going. Nobody knew if they
would be displaced in the afternoon or on the next day, nobody had
told  us anything. Nobody from [our] village or from outside knew
anything.  People were sighing. We gathered together, sighing
remembering [the  past] and cried. Happiness was gone and we were in
grief. We were  worried. People were saying that they grieved at being
separated [from  each other]. Women and children had been taken away
[and they knew] it  would be very hard to be reunited with them [in the
future]. They were  so unhappy: their wives and children [had been
settled] in different  places. They thought they had been displaced in
other villages and they  grieved. They did not want to get used to
being separated from the  elders. They did not want to get used to
being separated from their  children and their wives. (CM38 [8], p. 85)

Reading the narrative poem, we understand that the relocation in southwestern Vietnam brought much despair and anguish to the Cam. The relocation might have felt very odd if not totally confusing; "Listen to what I say. We were in these people's [= the Viet] hamlets. Our feet were in their compounds" (CM38 [8], p. 83). Furthermore, much to their dismay, the Cam were separated from each other and scattered (Cam: calah) in different hamlets and villages (CM38 [8], p. 85). Finally, upon being given weapons, the Cam understood acutely that they would never be brought back to Phnom Penh; they were going to be colonists and be a part of Vietnam.

Remorse, nostalgia for the homeland, and the pain of being separated from each other were not the only challenges that the Cam met, as poverty and starvation hit the refugees. The displaced Cam were considerably impoverished as they had lost everything during the migration. The narrative poem states that even if some individuals had found a way to feed their families--such as making shrimping nets (CM38 [8], pp. 86-88), (65) plucking edible herbs, watercress and bananas and such--it seems that the majority were stuck in misery. For several months the newly settled Cam had to bear a miserable existence. Furthermore, the difficulty of finding a way to be part of local economic networks added to their worries. Although the poem does not mention it, we can assume that the Cam had not only lost all their business networks but that they also had to face new and unknown competition for access to resources. In addition, being surrounded by people speaking a totally different language, such as Vietnamese, would have complicated things further. Although the region still had sizeable Khmer communities, the overwhelming majority spoke Vietnamese. As a result, many had to beg for food (CM38 [8], pp. 88-89) or hire themselves out to the local officials (Cam: kuan) (66) (CM38 [8], p. 84). The situation grew so serious that some considered leaving the colonies, probably to go back to Cambodia (CM38 [8], p. 83). As a last resort, the chief of the Cam communities had to ask the Vietnamese authorities to exempt them from military duties (Cam: saralah, literally "to free") to let them cultivate rice fields (CM38 [8], p. 87). Consequently, the newly displaced Cam came to rely on the local Vietnamese authorities for their survival; the Vietnamese authorities ordered a weekly donation of rice to poor Cam families (CM38 [8], pp. 87, 89). The narrative poem does not go beyond 1844 and does not give further details of the lives of the displaced communities after this date. It seems, however, that the situation slowly improved as the Vietnamese authorities made efforts to integrate the Cam in the economic life of the southern province. (67)

Displaced Cam communities within Cambodia suffered as well. The narrative poem CM39 (36), for instance, puts forward the sharp contrast between the idyllic life before 1858-59 and the hardship of exile and forced relocation to Prey Pis and Chhuk Sar. From the beginning of the text, we can feel the pangs of painful nostalgia for a kind of life no longer possible.
In the year of the Horse [1858-59], [our lives] were peaceful in the
village of Bareng.... There were coconut [trees], orange [trees],
jackfruit [trees] and mango [trees] with their dense foliage. There
were guava [trees], sweet orange [trees] and dense foliage areca nut
[trees] that produced a [nice] shadow. There were sugar apple [trees]
and annona [trees]. I had planted Ficus [trees] so that they could
provide good shade. I was living in the beautiful village of Bareng. We
never lacked food. (CM39 [36], p. 475)

The journey from Prey Pis to Chhuk Sar led to a significant loss of men and considerable impoverishment. Here is an excerpt depicting the situation of the Cam relocated in Prey Pis and Chhuk Sar in 1860-61,
Rice [was missing] and [all we could find to] eat was garathaok. (68)
We used to go by day to collect [the garathaok] in the forest. We
brought it at night [to the village] peeled it and chopped it. Our
descendants cannot sleep peacefully. Seeing this, we were regretting
the times when we could buy things without thinking. Now we see our
children crying. We shed tears of compassion. Some [of us] prepared
stews [with whatever we could find]. Some had nothing to eat, [others
managed to find] sweet potatoes and eggplants. The poorest men chopped
up their boats to sell them piece-by-piece and get paddy. They were
tired of chopping and were starving. We forced ourselves to keep
walking but starvation had weakened us. Some were thinking [to find a
solution] and decided to go far and cut trees. Cut wood could be used
as a loan and allowed [families] to eat. Hunger did not allow people to
look down on other people. (CM39 [36], p. 525)

The poem vividly illustrates the challenges and difficulties faced by the Cam: random attacks, hunger, and diseases. The narrative CM39 (36) adds that the resettlement remained an ordeal despite occasional acts of compassion and benevolence from Khmer villagers (CM39 [36], p. 492). However, this was not enough: people, especially young children, were dying in large numbers (CM39 [36], p. 491). The narrative offers some heart-wrenching details regarding the deaths. "Many fell sick and died. We had to bury them anywhere we could. Those who had remained alive had to carry [the corpses] and were wailing. Everybody was crying. Many women had lost their husbands" (CM39 [36], p. 493).

The same narrative explains further,
Many [of us] had sick children. Young children died. The carts were
full of dead bodies. The acc (69) was exhausted [for he had to] bury
people every day. He had to dig holes [everywhere he could] and even in
termite mounds. (70) He buried [bodies] in termite mounds: he dug into
them to use them as tombs! (CM39 [36], p. 498)

The author here points out how heartbreaking it must have been for the Cam to be unable to bury their dead following the proper funeral rites. (71) Burying the dead on the road and in makeshift graves also meant that visitation to the tombs would not have been possible in the future. Links between the living and the dead would therefore be cut forever. Cutting the links with the deceased and being unable to follow the rituals to make sure that the souls of the departed would be granted entry to paradise must have caused tremendous anguish. However, it may be that by recalling this heart-wrenching story, the poet created a way for the Cam to symbolically pay an ultimate tribute to the deceased: through the recitation of the narrative poem, the souls of the departed would be honoured in the same way they would have been through visitation.

The Memory of Migrations

Narrative poems offer us a chance to retrieve a past that might otherwise be lost. In that regard, Cam narrative poems are invaluable journals of Cam migrations. They offer sequences of places the Cam travelled through or where they settled temporarily. (72) These sequences are therefore extremely important for our knowledge of Cam history and migrations in Southeast Asia. However, it can also be argued that they had an equally important role for the Cam. The mention of places is a powerful medium that links the past to the present. The recitation of a succession of place names is yet another illustration of a centuries-old Austronesian tradition, the "topogeny", as denned by James J. Fox: "In so far as a sequence of names can be attached to specific locations in an inhabited landscape, a topogeny represents a projected externalization of memories that can be lived in as well as thought about" (Fox 1997, p. 8). Moreover, with the recitation of topogenies, the Cam could be constantly reminded of their emotional and social connection with the past, through the history of their forefathers, their connections with other Cam, as well as their relations with the non-Cam.

Names of places are not the only information that the Cam needed to pass down the generations: they also needed to put forward the connections, alliances or issues with the different people they encountered throughout their journey. In that regard, narratives offer some interesting information regarding the relations between the Cam and the non-Cam (Khmer, Viet, Highlanders and others). The narrative Cam 27 indicates, for instance, that before settling in Cambodia, Prince Po Cei Brei and his followers stayed with the Koho (73) (Cam: Kahaow) for five years in the Central Highlands from 1790-91 to 1795-96 (CM39 [24], p. 335). Although the text does not specify it, a formal alliance (74) may have been decided between the chief of the Koho and Po Cei Brei, as the Cam were not only passing through Koho territory but also intended to stay for a while. When Po Cei Brei and his followers resumed their journey, the Koho agreed to guide them through the mountains and the forests. After leaving the territories inhabited by the Koho, Po Cei Brei crossed areas populated by the Stieng: (75) Bos Svay (76) (Cam: Busawai) and Pralaoh (77) (Cam: Buralaoh).

The narrative poem CM38 (8) offers an account of some of the places that the Cam passed through from Phnom Penh to southwestern Vietnam. The poem provides some very interesting information regarding the itinerary chosen by the Vietnamese and followed by the Cam. It seems that the main road chosen to reach southwestern Vietnam ran through Thbaung Khmum province (CM38 [8], p. 81). Following the Bassac River would have been easier and faster, but it seems that at that time this route was too dangerous to take. Furthermore, the Vietnamese wanted to make sure that the Cam would go past some of their military posts, like in Peam Chilang (Cam: Bam Jalang) where two thousand soldiers were stationed (CM38 [8], p. 67). Finally, regarding itineraries, the narrative poem CM39 (36) is the most detailed. It gives a comprehensive itinerary from Pring (former Thbaung Khmum province) to Prey Pis and Chhuk Sar (Kompong Chhnang province) and lists the villages where the Cam stopped. One can find famous names such as Rokapopram (Cam: Raka Pa Pram), Peam Chileang (Cam: Bam Jilang), Peam Chikang (Cam: Bam Jikaong), Khleang Sbek (Cam: Khlang Sa-mbaik), among others. The narrative also gives information regarding Cam daily lives on the journey: the length of their stay in the different localities, the trade activities, fishing and harvesting, as well as the sicknesses and deaths that struck some members of the community.

Besides itineraries, narrative poems offer glimpses of the relationship between the Cam and the 'Other'--in this instance the local population, the other migrants, figures of authority or foreign powers.

The attitude of the local population varies from kindness and benevolence, to defiance or outright hostility. In some cases, narratives highlight the problems that frequently arise between the locals and the migrants. Many of the problems were linked to access to resources and competition between locals or older migrant communities and the new migrants. The narrative poem Cam 27 mentions the problems between the Cam refugees and the Highlanders. The Koho had initially welcomed Po Cei Brei and his followers in 1790-91, but their attitude towards the Cam refugees changed rapidly. It seems that the Koho were not pleased at the thought of the Cam settling permanently. In the highlands, land is scarce and the cultivable land was barely enough for the local population to survive on. With the arrival of the Cam, the sudden increase in population became a source of worry for the Koho; how would they survive if they had to compete for land? The Koho laid deadly traps on the roads to create difficulties for the Cam, fired arrows at them and set their houses on fire (Cam 27, pp. 31-33). Po Cei Brei found another place to settle which was likely still part of Koho territory, as he had to send emissaries to the Koho to make peace with them formally (Cam 27, p. 34) and to request permission to stay on their lands. It is reasonable to assume that the new location did not have cultivable lands, and therefore allowing the Cam to settle there would not have been a threat to the Koho. A little more than a decade later, Po Cei Brei and his Cam followers once again encountered problems with the local population. In the years that followed Po Cei Brei's installation in the Rong Damrei/Tay Ninh region (1812-13), the local people--probably Vietnamese colonists--openly showed their jealousy towards the assistance he received from the Vietnamese authorities (78) and criticized the fact that he was granted too many favours (CM39 [38], p. 543). Po Cei Brei, as a chief of a military colony, was indeed entitled to some privileges, such as the exemption of labour and taxes for a fixed period. The situation must have been serious, as Po Cei Brei had to leave with his people to settle elsewhere in the region, in Braik Mak. (79)

Similarly, the narrative poem CM38 (8) offers bitter accounts of the hardship of cohabitation between the Cam and the Vietnamese in southwestern Vietnam. In southwestern Vietnam, in 1843-14, relations with the Vietnamese settlers were extremely tense. Considering the support that they received from Vietnamese officials, Cam were very surprised to find little if no compassion from the Vietnamese settlers. The texts report that some Cam begged the Vietnamese to give them rice but were driven away (CM38 [8], pp. 88-89). From the Cam point of view, the Vietnamese settlers deliberately attempted to starve them to death (CM38 [8], p. 88), as they refused to give the Cam rice to survive (CM38 [8], p. 89) and several times stole their possessions (CM38 [8], p. 88). These accounts, even if read critically, show the issues faced by new migrant communities and the conflicts that arose between recent migrant communities and older migrant communities.

Information regarding the relations between the Cam and the Khmers is scarce. There is, however, some interesting information that can be gleaned from the narratives. In the turmoil of upheavals, diasporic communities can suddenly be reminded that they are intrinsically 'foreign' and can easily be perceived as disloyal to one's nation. Diasporic communities are often suspected by officials of shifting allegiances and manipulating figures of authority. It seems that the "treason" (CM39 [36], p. 475) (80) of a Malay minister, the subsequent revolt that broke out in Thbaung Khmum province, and the flight of the leaders to Vietnam had tarnished the image of the Cam clients of King Ang Duong and the Cam in general. The Cam clients of Ang Duong had to surrender all their men and weapons to Khmer officials (CM39 [36], p. 499) and they were asked to swear loyalty to the king multiple times (CM39 [36], pp. 485, 502). This is particularly revealing: in times of trouble, the principle of shared responsibility is applied and the Cam are perceived as a monolithic block that is hostile to the authority of the king. Apart from the suspicion of members of circles of power, precious little information is given regarding the relationship with the Khmer commoners, particularly the ones inhabiting the villages that the Cam crossed on their way from Kompong Cham province to Kompong Chhnang. It seems that, contrary to some members of Ang Duong's court and entourage, Khmer showed kindness and benevolence to the Cam. The narrative poem CM39 (36) states that the Khmer villagers let the Cam settle in the vicinity of their villages for as long as the Cam wanted to, and they even helped the Cam find means of subsistence. The Khmer let them fish in the river and streams, trade and barter (Cam: salih) and even lent them (Cam: upah) their sickles (Cam: yuak) to harvest paddy in their fields (CM39 [36], p. 492). Acts of pure generosity and kindness were not rare; the narrative poem CM39 [36] states that some Khmer villagers donated (81) fish so that the Cam women could prepare fishcakes (Cam: pacuk and aia janyrar) that were to be consumed throughout the remainder of the journey to Kompong Chhnang (CM39 [36], p. 492). The same narrative states that, upon leaving Choeung Prey (Cam: Jeng Brei), the provincial governor (Cam: juphuai sraoK) (82) ordered the distribution of a kati (83) of rice to each Cam (CM39 [36], p. 493). The same narrative further states that the villagers of Boeng Voeung (Cam: Mbeng Kawen), in Kompong Cham province, upon witnessing how exhausted the Cam were, offered Cam women palm fruit water (Cam: aia tanut) to help them regain some strength (CM39 [36], p. 493).

Finally, the narratives offer us some rare information regarding the relationship between the Cam and the foreign colonial powers (Vietnam and France). The narrative poem CM38 [8] for instance mentions that, on their way to southwestern Vietnam, the Cam were asked to found hamlets (Cam: ngap puk) in the Peam Chileang (Cam: Bam Jilang), Tuol Snuol (Cam: Dul Sanul) and Siim (Cam: Siim) regions (Kompong Cham province) (CM38 [8], p. 74). What is interesting here is that the narrative adds that these hamlets had to be built far from other hamlets--most probably Khmer-populated hamlets. This statement underscores the goal sought by the Vietnamese: to limit--if not avoid--contact between the Cam and the local population (CM38 [8], p. 59). What is important here is that the author of the narrative implies that building a new hamlet and having no contact whatsoever with the local population was hard to understand for the Cam, as they never had been forced to do so by the Khmer authorities. It might be that the forceful change of the dynamics of inter-ethnic relations in Cambodia and the meddling of the Vietnamese in the Cam's relations was not understood. Similarly, narrative CM39 (37) puts forward that, following the conquest of the Mekong Delta and the imposition of French rule in southern Vietnam, the French tried to isolate the Cam from their Vietnamese environment and created new Cam communes (Cam: taong) (84) and hamlets. They removed the Vietnamese authorities and appointed Cam men as "mayors" (Cam: cha) (85) to administer the communities in the Tay Ninh and Chau Doc region (CM39 [37], pp. 536, 539). While, for the French, these changes were necessary steps towards the complete destruction of Cam military colonies, (86) it seems that the Cam resented these changes. The particular relationships between the Cam and the local authorities were severed, and the Cam did not understand this change. The narrative puts forward the incomprehension and sadness of the Cam at witnessing the imposition of a new foreign order, and the desire to flee. The narrative mentions the profound distress that the Cam suffered after the French seized Chau Doc (Cam: Cu Ndaok) and exiled (Cam: ndai) the official that was in charge of the Cam colonies. (87) The narrative recalls: "The Cam men and women in Cu Ndaok were crying because they loved him. We thought a lot of him. We knew that they [the French] were going to govern us...." (Weber 2008, p. 51). Cam opposition to the brutal French annexation was so serious that many Cam in the region tried to flee to Cambodia, "leaving everything behind" (CM39 [37], p. 538); some Cam fled with only the clothes on their backs (CM39 [37], p. 538; Weber 2008, p. 52). Many failed when their "boats sank near the river bank" (CM39 [37], p. 538; Weber 2008, p. 52).


Narrative poems weave experiences that are drawn from both individual and collective memories. They highlight the importance of memorializing exile, migrations and resettlement in a way that forms common bonds among the communities that make up their audience. By tracing the journeys of their forefathers and ancestors, by linking the present generation to past generations, the narrative poems create powerful symbolic memory places. They serve to preserve a past that is still relevant to Cam listeners. Finally, narrative poems indirectly remind the Cam that forgetting one's origin is even more painful and revolting than exile and displacement.

Although the tradition of writing and chanting old and new narratives has now completely disappeared, they continue to be relevant today. In recounting the stories of lives and families torn apart by exile, the nostalgia of the homeland, the confusion following resettlement in a foreign, and at times, hostile environment, Cam narratives portray a past that resonates with individual experiences in the present. They are poignant reminders of the tragedies that migrants lived in the past and continue to do so today. They underline the power of politics on movements of migration, but also the hardships of the journey, the challenges of adaptation and the competition with other communities.


I would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers of SOJOURN and Michael Montesano for their suggestions and help. I would also like to thank Emiko Stock and William Noseworthy for their advice.

Nicolas Weber is a Researcher in the Department of History, Sun Yat-Sen University, 135 Xingang Xi Road, Binjiang Lu, Haizhu Qu, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China; email:


(1.) Cam is commonly spelled as 'Cham' in English publications.

(2.) Campa was a multi-ethnic kingdom whose existence was recorded from the second century. Campa's territory included the coastal plains and the highlands of present-day central Vietnam. At the time of its apogee, its territory comprised of five principalities: from north to south, Indrapura (from present-day Quang Binh province to Thua Thien province), Amaravati (from Quang Nam province to Quang Ngai province), Vijaya (Binh Binh province), Kaufriara (from Phu Yen province to Khanh Hoa province) and Panduranga (from Binh Thuan province to Ninh Thuan province). Campa was progressively absorbed by Vietnam and disappeared in the first half of the nineteenth century, when its last semi-independent principality, Panduranga, was turned into a Vietnamese province in 1832.

(3.) The very first historical testimony mentions that in AD 986, a group of Cam, led by Pu Luo E, took refuge in the prefecture of Danzhou on Hainan Island (Wade 2005, p. 10). A year later, 150 Cam refugees, led by Shi Dang Li Niang, arrived in the Leizhou port region, "the peninsula extending towards Hai-nan from the Asian mainland" (Wade 2005, p. 10), and sought asylum. By order of the authorities, they were later settled in the Nanhai and Qingyuan prefectures (two areas included in today's Guangzhou). The following year, in AD 987-88, the governor of Guangzhou gave asylum to another 500 Cam, led by Li Niang Bin and Hu Xuan, and settled them in the province (Weber 2014, pp. 15-16). These Cam were most probably coming from Campa's northernmost principality, Indrapura.

(4.) See Ccedes 1932 (p. 80); Ccedes 1989 (pp. 258, 311-12); Maspero 1928 (p. 164).

(5.) See Khin Sok 1988 (p. 248).

(6.) The Cambodian Cam script is a localized version of the akhar srah (or akhar thrah)--"straight letters", which is the Modern Cam alphabet--used by the Cam in Vietnam.

(7.) See Mohamad Zain 1990.

(8.) See Mohamad Zain 1992 (pp. 136-59).

(9.) See Mohamad Zain 1999a (pp. 121-24), 1999ft (pp. 1-27).

(10.) See Mohamad Zain 2012.

(11.) See Weber 2008 (pp. 39-57).

(12.) In his dictionary, Monier-Williams (1964, p. 924) gives the following definition for varna: "the order or the arrangement of a song or poem".

(13.) To differentiate them, I will use the class mark that was attributed to each of them in the catalogue of Cam manuscripts kept in the French libraries published in 1977 by Pierre-Bernard Lafont, Po Dharma and Nara Vija.

(14.) From the Khmer: namoeun. There were two types of namoeun: the namoeun khnong, literally "namceun of the interior", working in the royal palace; and the namceun krav, "namoeun of the exterior", working in the provinces. The namoeun khnong had more authority than the namceun krav (Aymonier 1874, p. 14). The narrative does not indicate which category the author belonged to, but it is reasonable to think that he was a namoeun krav.

(15.) This village is located in the former province of Thbaung Khmum, the province of Kompong Cham today.

(16.) In Cam: jawa or jawa kur, the "Malays of Cambodia". In the Cambodian and Cam context, jawa does not refer to the island of Java but to a broad geographical territory including both the Malay Peninsula and the Indonesian Archipelago and populated by the Malay-speaking Austronesian population. The term jawa is equivalent to the Khmer chvea (jva).

(17.) Brah mbalat is the combination of the two Khmer titles brah and palat'. The persons holding this title were assistants of provincial governors.

(18.) Etienne Aymonier had led an expedition in Cambodia to copy manuscripts and stamp inscriptions, both in Khmer and Cam.

(19.) This twelve-year cycle shows striking similarities with the Vietnamese and Chinese lunar calendars.

(20.) No specific year is given at the beginning of the text.

(21.) Koster and Maier (1985, p. 444) made the same observation for Malay narratives.

(22.) See CM39 (37).

(23.) This term is wrongly spelled as hada in the manuscript.

(24.) Occasionally, one can find the pronoun kau or dahlak, "I", or more commonly drei, "myself, and gap drei, "all of us". In some cases, drei is used for "us".

(25.) See, for instance, the texts dealing with the revolt of Tuan Phaow in 1796-97 (Weber 2003, pp. 127-66).

(26.) For a translation and a detailed analysis of two ariya recounting the extension of Vietnamese rule in Panduranga during the reigns of Po Klan Thu (1822-27) and Po Phaok Theng (1828-32), see Po 1987.

(27.) See Weber 2012 (pp. 158-80).

(28.) A form of traditional poetry composed of quatrains. In the Malay world, the syair form has been widely used for writing narrative and didactic poems, but also to describe historical events and to convey religious and philosophical ideas.

(29.) Both Khin Sok and David Chandler have made a study of the Sastra Ibaek roba khsat phendey Outeyreachea Ang Chan (Khin 2002; Chandler 2008, pp. 31-46). Khin Sok provided a French translation of this text (Khin 2002, pp. 320-59) together with a translation of the Sastra voat kroch srok Prey (Khin 2002, pp. 203-77).

(30.) In Cam diaspora royal genealogies, the two names are combined in the expression "nagar parik panrang", or "the kingdom of Parik and Panrang", which designates the whole Panduranga principality (see Weber 2015, p. 10), Campa's southernmost principality. Panrang and Parik were in fact two of the former four regions that constituted the Panduranga principality. The remaining two were Pajai and Kraong. The names of Parik and Panrang have been preserved by the Vietnamese and transcribed as Phan Ri and Phan Rang, respectively, although these two names refer to cities and not regions.

(31.) See, for instance, Weber 2015 (p. 10).

(32.) See, for instance, Po 1987 (vol. 1, pp. 105-19) and Weber 2012 (pp. 158-80).

(33.) This region belongs to the Dong Nai province in Vietnam today.

(34.) Rong Damrei, known today in Vietnam as Tay Ninh, fell under Vietnamese control in 1738. Vietnamese authorities actively planted military colonies in the region, and some of these were populated by Cam settlers. See Weber 2011 (pp. 739-72).

(35.) It seems that this phrase is the combination of two titles: ung ndak and thang kau. While we can assume that the title ung ndak is the Cam adaptation of the Sino-Vietnamese title do doc, or "commander-general", the term thang kau remains obscure.

(36.) The Six Southern Provinces (Nam Ky luc tinh) or Six Provinces (luc tinh) were, from north to south: Bien Hoa, Gia Dinh, Binh Tuong, Vinh Long, An Giang and Ha Tien.

(37.) Le Van Buyft was one of Prince Nguyln Ann's most faithful followers. He was appointed governor-general of the Six Southern Provinces in 1813.

(38.) The installation of Po Cei Brei in the Rong Damrei (Tay Ninh) region is confirmed by official Vietnamese sources (Weber 2011, pp. 748-49).

(39.) Na Mbin is the Cam transcription of the Vietnamese term Nam Vinh, the name that the Vietnamese had given to Phnom Penh during their occupation of Cambodia (1820-48). The choice of this term shows the closeness of this Cam group with the Vietnamese in Cambodia.

(40.) Like Tay Ninh, Chau Doc once belonged to Cambodia and was called Moat Chrouk. Moat Chrouk fell into Vietnamese hands in 1757. Since its absorption, the Vietnamese authorities have striven to establish a dense network of military colonies. See Weber 2011 (pp. 750-51).

(41.) In the Vietnamese documents, the protectorate is called Trim Tay, or the Western Province. For a detailed study of Cambodia during this period, see Chandler 1973 and Khin 2002 (pp. 39-90).

(42.) For a discussion regarding the Cam within the framework of the patron-client relationship, see Weber 2014 (pp. 37-38).

(43.) Ang Mei had been put on the throne by the Vietnamese. She was awarded the title of quan chua, "princess of commandry", and her three sisters--Ang Peou, Ang Snguon and Ang Pen--had been awarded the titles of huyen chua, "princess of district". Ang Mei's title reflects clearly the role that the Vietnamese had attributed to her; while she was effectively on the throne of Vietnamese-occupied Cambodia, she was no more than a vassal princess, and not the ruler of Cambodia.

(44.) Queen Ang Mei and her sisters were arrested in 1840 by the Vietnamese and transferred to Vietnam, where they were put under surveillance. Ang Mei was brought back to Phnom Penh in 1843 and deported again to southern Vietnam (Chau Doc). See Mak 2002 (pp. 146-47).

(45.) Khmer modern historical sources confirm that, along with the Cam, the Vietnamese displaced Khmers and Malays (Chandler 1973, p. 164).

(46.) This term--derived from the Sanskrit yavana--exists in Khmer and Thai, and has the same meaning.

(47.) This hamlet is called Ha Bao in Vietnamese.

(48.) The political, cultural and religious homogenization of Vietnam and the forceful assimilation of non-Vietnamese peoples took place during the reign of Emperor Minn Mang (1820-41). For a detailed account of Minh Mang's policies in southern Vietnam, see, for instance, Choi 2004 (pp. 83-159). For Minh Mang's policies towards the Cam in Panduranga, see Po 1987 (vol. 1, pp. 105-4-9) and Weber 2012 (pp. 158-80).

(49.) Until the end of the nineteenth century, there were fifteen Cam and Malay hamlets in Chau Doc, which were incorporated into seven ethnic-Viet villages. See Labussiere 1880 (pp. 377-78) and Nguyln Van Luan 1974 (p. 35). For an explanation of the pattern of settlement of Cam hamlets in the region, see Weber 2011 (pp. 756-57).

(50.) According to the narrative poem, Tuan Him was followed by members of his family: Tuan Sa-it Dulah and Tuan Su, who also held positions in the court.

(51.) It has been largely accepted that the main goal of the Cam, and Malays, was to establish an independent Muslim state in Thbaung Khmum region (Moura 1883, p. 133; Aymonier 1904, p. 799; Lecl6re 1914, p. 445). However, vernacular sources, including Khmer and Cam texts, do not confirm this assumption. It seems that the rebellion was nothing more than a clash of interests between King Ang Duong and one of his influential Cam-Malay ministers.

(52.) See Moura 1883 (p. 134); Leclere 1914 (p. 445); Lamant 1990 (pp. 69-80); Khin 1991 (p. 139) and Dai Nam Thuc Luc 1974 (pp. 85-87).

(53.) See Weber 2014 (pp. 47-48) and Weber 2015 (p. 6).

(54.) One should note that in traditional Cam society, individuals bearing the title tuan were highly respected and revered. In the Cam context, tuan designates an individual who had authority over the community. This authority could also be purely spiritual.

(55.) In Khmer: rapip. The term refers to individuals who have been stripped of their official functions and condemned to slavery. In pre-colonial Cambodia, war prisoners also fell into the category of rapip. Leclere transliterates this word as robob or lobob (Leclere 1894, p. 157). This term is found in modern Khmer dictionaries with the following definition: "1. Confiscation, seizure of property; 2. guilty and punished by having property confiscated; 3. criminal who belongs to the merchant class, being condemned to become a member of the laboring class" (Modern Khmer-English Dictionary 2006, p. 713).

(56.) Bishop Jean-Claude Miche (1805-73), from the Missions Etrangeres de Paris (Foreign Missions of Paris), was appointed vicar apostolic of Cambodia in 1850 and vicar apostolic of Western Cochin-China in 1864. Miche was a crucial witness of the last years of King Ang Duong's reign and the beginnings of Norodom's. He played an important role in the negotiations that eventually led to the installation of the French Protectorate in Cambodia. He resigned from this position in Cambodia in 1869. See Patary n.d.

(57.) King Ang Duong is never named in the narrative and none of his titles are recorded. He is simply called putao, or "the king".

(58.) In the text, Norodom is referred to as putao sa-ai; literally, "the elder brother king". The title putao in the text refers to both the Khmer titles of king and royal prince.

(59.) The resettlement in Chhuk Sar is corroborated by the Khmer Royal Chronicles (see Khin 1991, p. 139).

(60.) Cam transcription of the Vietnamese terms doi and cai doi; doi is the basic military unit consisting of one hundred men, with variations between cavalry and infantry (see Hucker 1987, p. 549). A cai doi is the chief of a unit, such as a corporal.

(61.) Cam transcription of the Vietnamese ong, "sir". In the Cambodian context, this term refers to Vietnamese generals.

(62.) According to the letters that Queen Ang Mei sent to her uncle Ang Duong between 1843 and 1844, this official--whose title is transcribed as dok po in Khmer--oversaw the Chau Doc citadel. See Khin 1985 (p. 410).

(63.) Adaptation of the Khmer phrase vi vor, meaning "disorder; in disarray".

(64.) Until the first half of the twentieth century, the tobacco trade was widely practised among the Cam and Malay communities settled at the Cambodia-Vietnam border. According to a report written by Marcel Ner in the early 1940s, the Cam of Chau Giang village traded tobacco in the Mekong Delta localities of Ba Chieu, Soc Trang and Rach Gia (Ner 1941, p. 160).

(65.) The narrative adds that selling these nets could provide enough money for a family to buy food supplies for three days.

(66.) The word kuan is the Cam transcription of the Sino-Vietnamese term quan: "official, mandarin". However, the term quan in Vietnamese is relatively vague, as it does not convey the exact function of the person the text is referring to. In the context of the narrative, it is possible that this term refers to the official(s) in charge of the military colonies, like the hiep quan.

(67.) Official Vietnamese texts confirm that in 1844, for instance, the authorities allowed for the opening of trading posts to facilitate trade between the southwestern provinces and Cambodia, and Cam could come to trade twice a month. See Qudc-Trieu 1972 (p. 259).

(68.) Garathaok is a kind of edible jungle creeper.

(69.) This term is an adaptation of the Khmer phrase deary, which is traditionally used for monks, members of the Buddhist clergy or teachers. In this context, however, it designates an educated Muslim individual--maybe an imam--who could perform the required funerary rites and recite prayers.

(70.) In many cultures, termite mounds and anthills are regarded as sacred. In some cultures they symbolize the transition between this life and the next. It is hard to determine whether the Cam at that time adhered to this belief. However, regardless of a possible esoteric and sacred meaning, the choice of termite mounds addressed more practical and prosaic considerations. Firstly, the rough dome shape of the termite mound might have been reminiscent of the shape of the stone stelae placed on top of Muslim graves. Secondly, with very limited and rudimentary tools, digging a hole in a termite mound would have been much easier than digging in the ground.

(71.) It is, however, difficult to determine what should have been the proper rites for this Cam community, as the poem does not give any information regarding their religious practices. The only information that can be found is the name that the Cam gave to the funeral rites: padhi. This term refers to the ceremony of commemoration that is performed three days after the burial of the deceased. The padhi is also practised in central Vietnam by the Cam Bani (non-orthodox Muslims), the "Brahmanists" and the Cru. The use of the term padhi indicates that these Cam were followers of the localized form of Islam that is practised among some Cam communities in Cambodia and particularly in Kompong Chhnang province. For recent scholarship on the cultural and religious practices of the Bani of Cambodia, see Ovesen and Trankell 2008 (pp. 241-69) and Stock 2016 (pp. 786-825).

(72.) See CM39 (36) (pp. 487-99).

(73.) Koho, a people belonging to the Austro-Asiatic linguistic group. They are today mainly settled in Lam Dong province, which borders Khanh Hoa and Ninh Thuan provinces, in Vietnam, in the Central Highlands.

(74.) This formal agreement between the two parties was sealed with a ceremony that involved the sacrifice of a buffalo (Mohamad Zain 1990, p. 198).

(75.) Stieng, a people belonging to the M6n-Khmer linguistic group and who settled in southern Vietnam as well as in Cambodia.

(76.) Svay Rieng province.

(77.) Kompong Cham province.

(78.) For details, see Weber 2011 (pp. 748-49).

(79.) The name Braik Mak indicates a clear Khmer origin: the term braik could be the transcription of either prek (canal) or prek (prefecture). It is clear that when Po Cei Brei settled there, the Khmer name was still used by the locals.

(80.) I am reproducing the words of the author of the narrative here.

(81.) The narrative states more precisely that the Cam requested a donation (Cam: trah), to which the Khmers agreed.

(82.) Chaovay srok in Khmer. This title is sometimes literally translated as "lieutenant of province".

(83.) Kati is a unit of measurement. It is about 604.79 grams. This unit of measurement is still commonly used in Malaysia and its neighbouring countries.

(84.) From the Vietnamese term tong.

(85.) From the Vietnamese term xa.

(86.) For the end of the military colonies, see Weber 2011 (pp. 763-64).

(87.) Neither the name or exact title of the official is recorded in the text. He is simply called aong, or "sir". In the Cam context, the term aong refers to a high-ranking individual in the military, such as a general, or in the Vietnamese administration.


Archival References

Cam 27, CM38 (8), CM39 (24), CM39 (36), CM39 (37), CM39 (38).

Published References

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DOI: 10.1355/sj34-1c
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Author:Weber, Nicolas
Publication:SOJOURN: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia
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Date:Mar 1, 2019
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