Funan

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Funan

 

one of the first early class states in Southeast Asia; in existence from the first to six centuries B.C. Funan occupied the region along the delta and middle course of the Mekong River. The capital was Vyadhapura. Some scholars believe that the inhabitants of the state spoke ancient Indonesian languages and later the Khmer language.

The history of Funan is reflected most fully in the notes of the Chinese ambassadors at the court of the state’s rulers. In the first century A.D. an Indian Brahman named Kaundinya founded the first royal dynasty of Funan. In the early third century the state made vassals of settlements on the Malay Peninsula and of a number of neighboring states, including Chenla, Chentou (in the Chao Phraya River basin), and Phan Rang (in what is now the southern part of Vietnam). In the 270’s and 280’s Funan fought wars in alliance with Champa against what is now the northern part of Vietnam, but it was defeated in these wars. In the sixth century Chenla’s vassalage to Funan ended, and shortly thereafter Funan in turn became a vassal of Chenla, into which it was incorporated in the first half of the eighth century.

Funan’s economy was largely based on commerce; the port of Oc Eo was one of the largest trading centers of Southeast Asia. Slaveholding and slave trading were well developed in the state; however, scholars do not yet know under which stage of development to categorize it. Throughout its history, Funan had a despotic form of government; the ruling circle was composed of the hereditary leader, the priests, and the landed and service aristocracy. The religion was Buddhism and later Hinduism. The culture of Funan had a considerable influence on the development of the culture of Cambodia (Angkor) and other early states in Southeast Asia.

REFERENCES

Hall, D. G. E. Istoriia Iugo-Vostochnoi Azii. Moscow, 1958. (Translated from English.)
Migot, A. Khmery. Moscow, 1973. (Translated from French.)

L. A. SEDOV