Infobox Former Country
native_name = នគរភ្នំ
conventional_long_name = Funan or Nakhor Phnom
common_name =
continent = Asia
region = South east Asia (Indochina)
country = Cambodia
era =
status = Empire
status_text =
empire =
government_type = Monarchy
year_start = 68
year_end = 550
year_exile_start = 550
year_exile_end = 628
event_start = Established in Prey Veng
date_start = 68
event_end = Fall
date_end = 550
event1 =
date_event1 =
event2 =
date_event2 =
event3 =
date_event3 =
event4 =
date_event4 = |
event_post = End of the Southern Funan
date_post = 628
p1 =
s1 = Chenla
s2 =
flag_s2 =

flag_type =

symbol =
symbol_type =

image_map_caption =
capital = Baphnom
common_languages = Khmer Languages
religion = Buddhism, Hindu
currency =
leader1 = Kaodinya I
leader2 = Rudravarman
year_leader1 = 68-?
year_leader2 = 514-550
title_leader = Emperor

Funan (Old Khmer "Bnam", Modern Khmer "Phnom", Khmer script: នគរភ្នំ (i.e., "mountain"), Vietnamese "Phù Nam"; Chinese , Fúnán; Thai ฟูนาน, fuːnaːn) was an ancient pre-Angkor Indianized Khmer kingdom located around the Mekong Delta. It is believed to have been established in the first century C.E, although extensive human settlement in the region may have gone back as far as the 4th century B.C.E. Though regarded by Chinese envoys as a single unified empire, Funan may have been a collection of city-states that sometimes warred with one another and at other times constituted a political unity. [Ha Van Tan, "Oc Eo: Endogenous and Exogenous Elements", "Viet Nam Social Sciences," 1-2 (7-8), 1986, pp.91-101.] At its height, Funan and all its principalities covered much of mainland Southeast Asia, including within its scope the territory of modern day Cambodia and Southern Vietnam, as well as parts of Laos, Thailand and Myanmar, and extending into the Malay Peninsula. [ Kenneth R. Hall, "Maritime Trade and Early Development in Early Southeast Asia", p.38, University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu HI 1985]

Little is known about Funan, except that it was a powerful trading state, as evidenced by the discovery of Roman, Chinese, and Indian goods during archaeological excavations at the ancient port of Oc Eo in southern Vietnam. The capital, initially located at Vyadhapura ("City of the Hunter") near the modern Cambodian town of Phumi Banam in the Prey Veng Province, may have been moved to Oc Eo at a later time. [Coedès, "The Indianized States of Southeast Asia", pp.36 ff.] Most of what is known about Funan is from records by Chinese and Cham sources dating from the third to sixth centuries and from archaeological excavations. No archaeological research has been conducted on this state in Cambodia's Mekong Delta in several decades, and it is precisely this region that reputedly housed the capitals of Funan. [Miriam T. Stark, et al., “Results of the 1995–1996 Archaeological Field Investigations at Angkor Borei, Cambodia”, "Asian Perspectives," vol.38, no.1, 1999, pp.7ff.]

The Kambujas

Kambujas Migration

Numerous scholars including J. Fergusson [Bulletin de la Société des études indo-chinoises de Saigon, 1952, p 174, J. Fergusson, Société des études indochinoises - Indochina; Tree and Serpent Worship Or Illustrations of Mythology & Art in India, 2004, pp 52-53, James Fergusson - Religion etc.] , G. Coedes [ Bulletin de la Société des études indochinoises, p 55, Société des études indo-chinoises; The Indianized States of Southeast Asia, 1968, p 47, George Cœdès - East Indians; The Journal of Asian Studies, 1956, p 384, Association for Asian Studies, Far Eastern Association (U.S.).] , D. G. E. Hall [ A History of South-east Asia, 1955, p 29, Daniel George Edward Hall - Southeast Asia.] , Dr B. R. Chatterjee [ Indian Cultural Influence in Cambodia, 1964, p 274, Dr B. R. Chatterjee - Cambodia; A Current Tradition among the Kambojs of North India Relating to the Khmers of Cambodia, Dr B. R. Chatterji, Artibus Asiae, Vol. 24, No. 3/4 (1961), pp. 253-254.] , Dr Buddha Prakash [India and the World, 1964, p 71, Dr Buddha Parkash.] and many others [ A History of South-east Asia, 1968, p 31 etc.] [Cf: Rivers of Life: Or Sources and Streams of the Faiths of Man in All Lands ... , 2002, p 114, J. G. R. Forlong - Religion.] etc accept the ancient historical, political and cultural connections between the Ancient Kambojas of the north-west and the Kambujas of the Indochina archipelago [See: Kambojas and Cambodia.] .

Related articles:
* Migration of Kambojas
* Kambojas and Cambodia
* Etymology of Kamboja

A section of the Kambysene hordes settled on north-west of India later came to be known as Kambojas and their province as Kamboja in ancient Indian traditions [The Racial History of India – 1944, p 810, Chandra Chakraberty] . A section of these Scythianised Kambojas is believed to have reached Tibetan plateau where they mixed with the locals; as a result some Tibetans are still called Kambojas [op cit, p 165, Dr C. Chakravarty.] . Through Tibet, they went further to Mekong valley where they were called Kambujas (Cambodians), now represented by the Chams, still a tall, fair, dolichocephelic people with non-mongoloid eyes, of the Mon-Khmers [op cit, p 165, Dr C. Chakravarty. ] .

Intermarriages and blood mixing

The colonists and the ruling families of Kambuja who originally came from north-west Kamboja, for reasons of convenience, married with the local elites and thus there apparently occurred a blood mixing between the original population and the new colonists, at least, at the surfacial layer. This possibility has also been accepted by G Coedes and other scholars on this subject.

Prince Norodom Sihanouk, king of Cambodia visited India in March 1955. The Indian Kambojas organized grand meeting on March 18 in New Delhi where the prince was honored and was presented an "Abhinandan Patra" on behalf of the "'All India Kamboj Mahasabha", by its President, Dr Ganga Singh Soni. Remarked prince Sihanouk "I am fortunate to be among my Indian Kamboj brethren and am proud of my ancient blood connection with the Indian Kambojas....". On special invitation from the Cambodian prince, a four member delegation of the Indian Kambojs comprising Dr Ganga Singh Soni, S. Hazara Singh Jossan, Col Lal Singh Turna and S. Himat Singh Thind visited Cambodia on November 13, 1959 to participate in the "Jalutsava" celebrations which is a national festival of Kambodia. The Kamboj delegation was given a wide publicity and rousing royal reception in Cambodia and its members were treated as special Guests of the State of Cambodia. ["Kamboj Itihaas", 1972, pp 283-291, H. S. Thind; "These Kamboj People", 1979, p 160, Kirpal Singh Dardi; cf also: "Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country", 1981, p 360, Dr J. L. Kamboj]

Kambujas international trade & colonization on Southeast Asia

* Funan (68 AD – 550 AD)
* Chenla (550 AD – 802 AD)
* Khmer Empire (802 AD – 1431 AD)

Sri Lanka
* Ancient Sinhala (Sri-Lanka)

Malaysia and Indonesia
* Langkasuka (2nd–14th century)
* Kedah Kingdom ((630-1136)
* Srivijaya (3rd to 14th centuries)
* Majapahit (1293–1500)


The race and language of the Funanese are not known, but Chinese records dating from the third century A.D reveals the same origin myth of the Khmer people that survives in modern Khmer folklore. [,Rudiger Kaudinya,"Preah Thaong and the Nagi Soma: Some Aspects of a Cambodian Legend", p. 339"] [George Ceodes, "The Indianized States of Southeast Asia, pp 36-38] [R.C Majumdar, "Kambuja-Desa or An Ancient Cambodian Colony in Cambodia] In a tenth century document of the Chinese official Rang Tai's visit to Funan in the middle of the third century A.D records one of the earliest variants of the legend. In it, Rang Tai learned that the original sovereign of Funan was a women name Liu-Ye. According to the story, Kaundinya had been given instruction in a dream to take a magic bow from a temple and to embark on a journey. He did so and went to Cambodia, where a local queen (Liu-ye) launched an attack on the Brahmin's boat. With the aid of the divine bow, Kaundinya repelled the attack and persuaded the defeated queen to marry him. Their lineage became the royal dynasty of Funan. [Coedès, "The Indianized States of Southeast Asia", p.37.] . A similar account is recorded in the seventh century "History of Chin". [Paul Pelliot,"Le Fou-na", p.254]

Although the Chinese records shows bias, similar names have been recorded in stone inscriptions at My Son dating to 657 A.D. In this Cham version, the prince is known as Kaudinya and the queen as Soma, the daughter of the naga king. A Khmer inscription from the tenth century described the ruling line as descendants of Sri-Kaudinya and the daughter of Soma. [R.C Majumdar, "Kambuja-Desa or An Ancient Cambodian Colony in Cambodia", p. 23] [Louis Finot,"Notes d'Epigraphie: Les Inscriptions de Mi-So", p.923] [George Coedes,"The Indianized States of Southeast Asia", pp.496-497.] The same origin myth in modern Khmer folklore gives the name Preah Thaong to the prince and Neang Neak to the queen. In this version, Preah Thaong arrives by sea to an island marked by a giant thlok tree, native to Cambodia. On the Island, he found the home of the nagas and met Neang Neak, daughter of the naga king. He married her with blessing from her father and returned to the human world. The naga king drank the sea around the island and gave the name Kampuchea Thipdei, which in Sanskrit "(Kambuja Dhipati)" translates ino the king of Kambuja. In another version, it is stated that Preah Thaong fights Neang Neak. The continuation of the same origin myth implies that modern Khmers are descendants of the Funanese people. [Rudiger Gaudes, "Kaundinya, Preah Thong, and the Nagi Soma: Some Aspects of a Cambodian Legend", p. 337] [Eveline Poree-Maspero, "Nouvelle Etude sur la Nagi Soma", pp. 239 & 246] [R.C Majumdar, "Kambuja-Desa or An Ancient Cambodian Colony in Cambodia", pp. 18-19]

The first Khmer inscription dated shortly after the fall of Funan and those dating to later dates are concentrated in southern Cambodia suggests that the Khmers already inhabited lowland Cambodia. [Michael Vickery,":] What to Do about The Khmers", Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 27, 2, 1996. p. 390,]


The Funanese Empire reached its greatest extent under the rule of Fan Shih-man in the early third century C.E., extending as far south as Malaysia and as far west as Burma. The Funanese established a strong system of mercantilism and commercial monopolies that would become a pattern for empires in the region. Fan Shih-man expanded the fleet and improved the Funanese bureaucracy, creating a quasi-feudal pattern that left local customs and identities largely intact, particularly in the empire's farther reaches.


Keeping in mind that Funanese records do not survive into modern time, much of what is known is from archaeological excavation. Excavations yielded discoveries of brick wall structures, precious metals and pottery from southern Cambodia and Vietnam. Also found was a large canal system that linked the settlements of Angkor Borei and coastal outlets; this suggests a highly organized government. [Charles Holcombe, "Trade Buddhism: Maritime trade, immigration, and the Buddhist landfall in early Japan", p. 280] Funan, a complex and sophisticated society with a high population density, advanced technology, and a complex social system dominated the area of Cambodia because of the Khmer people's ability to produce food in Cambodia's fertile plains.


Funanese culture was a mixture of native beliefs and Indian ideas. The kingdom is said to have been heavily influenced by Indian culture, and to have employed Indians for state administration purposes. Sanskrit was the language at the court, and the Funanese advocated Hindu and, after the fifth century, Buddhist religious doctrines. Records show that taxes were paid in silver, gold, pearls, and perfumed wood. K'ang T'ai reported that the Funanese practiced slavery and that justice was rendered through trial by ordeal, including such methods as carrying a red-hot iron chain and retrieving gold rings and eggs from boiling water.

Archaeological evidence largely corresponds to Chinese records. the Chinese described the Funanese as people who lived on stilt houses, cultivated rice and sent tributes of gold, silver, ivory and exotic animals. [Paul Pelliot,"Le Fou-nan", BEFEO 3, 1903. pp. 248-303]

K'ang T'ai's report was unflattering to Funanese civilization, though Chinese court records show that a group of Funanese musicians visited China in 263 C.E. The Chinese Emperor was so impressed that he ordered the establishment of an institute for Funanese music near Nanking. The Funanese were reported also to have extensive book collections and archives throughout their country, demonstrating a high level of scholarly achievement.


Funan was Southeast Asia's first great economy. The Kingdom was rich because of trade and agriculture. Funan grew wealthy because it dominated the Isthmus of Kra, the narrow portion of the Malay penisula where merchants transported trade goods between China and India. They use their profits to construct an elaborate system of water torage and irrigation. Citizens lived relaxed lifestyles. The Funanese population was concentrated mainly along the Mekong River: the area was a natural region for the development of an economy based on fishing and rice cultivation. The Funanese economy depended on rice surpluses produced by an extensive inland irrigation system. Maritime trade also played an extremely important role in the development of Funan. Archaeological remnants of what was the kingdom's main port, Oc Eo, were found to include Roman as well as Persian, Indian, and Greek artifacts.


King Fan Shih-man, the greatest king of Funan, and his successors sent ambassadors to China and India. The kingdom likely accelerated the process of Indianization into Southeast Asia. Later kingdoms of Southeast Asia emulated the Funanese court.

During its golden age Funan controlled modern southern Vietnam, Cambodia, central Thailand, northern Malaysia, and southern Burma. Although Funan collapsed under the pressure of neighboring Chenla, its capital Vyadhapura remained the largest and most important urban center in the region until Angkor Thom.

The Funan kingdom had an efficient navy and rose to prosperity by regulating the sea trade between China and India.

Funan collapsed in the sixth century and was absorbed by the Chenla kingdom who are undeniably Khmers. Funan is held to be the first Khmer kingdom and the forerunner of the mighty Khmer Empire. The Khmers and the Funanese share the same origin myth and under Funan, Cambodia became an indianized polity which had a profound effect on its culture.


The French historian George Coedès once hypothesized a relation between the rulers of Funan and the Sailendra dynasty of Indonesia. Coedès believed that the title of "mountain lord" used by the kings of Sailendra may also have been used by the kings of Funan, since the name "Funan" is related to the Khmer "phnom," which means "mountain." [Coedès, "The Indianized States of Southeast Asia", p.36.] Other scholars have rejected this hypothesis, pointing to the lack of evidence in early Cambodian epigraphy for the use of any such titles. [Vickery, "Funan Reviewed," pp.103, 132-133.] The Funanese also traded with the Liang dynasty of southern China. [Charles Holcombe, "Trade Buddhism: Maritime trade, immigration, and the Buddhist landfall in early Japan", p. 280]

Little is known about Funan's political history apart from its relations with China. A brief conflict is recorded to have happened in the 270's when Funan and its neighbor Champa joined forces to attack the Chinese province of Tongking, located in what is now modern Northern Vietnam. In 357, Funan became a vassal of China, and would continue as such until its disintegration in the sixth century. Chenla, a vassal of Funan eventually absorbed Funan entirely.

Funan rulers

-see List of Kings of Cambodia



* James C.M. Khoo (editor), "Art & archaeology of Fu Nan: pre-Khmer Kingdom of the lower Mekong valley," Bangkok, The Southeast Asian Ceramic Society, Orchid press, 2003.
* M. Vickery (2003–2004). "Funan reviewed: Deconstructing the Ancients." "Bulletin de l'École Française d' Extrême Orient": 101–143.
* George Coedès, "The Indianized States of Southeast Asia" (translated from the French by Susan Brown Cowing). Honolulu: East West Center Press, 1968.
* Lương Ninh, «Nước Chi Tôn», một quőc gia cở ở miển tây sông Hậu, (“Chi Tôn”, an ancient state in the western bank of the Hậu river), "Khảo cổ học," ső 1, 1981, tr.38.

External links


See also

* Oc Eo
* Angkor
* Cambodia
* Chenla
* Khmer empire
* List of monarchies

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