Cham Village in Chau Doc with the houses on stilts

On the rivers, the Cham village is gentle and quiet with ancient stilt houses reflected on the water. Tourists coming here are also fascinated about the black and naive eyes of the locals.  

Passing Cham villages, the most profound impression on us is the ancient architecture of Masjid Cathedral and the old wooden stilt houses. The old houses show us about the prosperity of their owners which are built in the architecture style regulated by their ancestors. 

Cathedrals are the places for parishioners including youngster above 15 and men come to practise rituals and listen about the way of leading a good life. At present, there are around 2500 household with above 13000 Cham people living in 9 villages of An Phu, Tan Chau, Tan Phu, Chau Phu and Chau Thanh districts, An Giang province. 
 

Set up villages in the South 

Floating on Chau Giang ferry between the prosperous Chau Doc and peaceful Chau Giang, Chau Phong Cham villages, the Cham villageson the two riversides appear with ancient tile roofs covered with moss, bearing the traces of time. 

Mr. Ismal, the parish priest of Chau Phong Cham Village in Chau Phong commute, Tan Chau district said that according to ancient books and elderly people in the village, Cham village in An Giang was originated from Champa kingdom in Ninh Thuan province. 
 
They live in 7 small Cham villages scattered along the shore of Hau River from the bordering place with Cambodia to Phu Chau (now is AN Phu, Tan Chau district). The villages are named respectively Koh Tapoong, Mat Chruk, Koh Kaboak, Plây Kênh, Plao Ba, Koh Kaghia, Sabâu which all correspond to the locations of Chau Giang (Phu Hiep commute, Phu Tan district), Chau Phong (Chau Phong commute, Tan CHau district), Da Phuoc, Vinh Truong, NHon Hoi, Khanh Binh, Quoc Thai (An Phu district). 

At present, a part of the Cham has moved toward the south to reside, setting up two more villages in Khanh Hoa (Chau Phu district) and Vinh Hanh (Chau Thanh district).  

In the first days coming to An Giang, the Cham lead a closed live within their villages. Opposite to the busy Chau Doc on the other side of Hau River, Cham villages on this riverside is quiet and peaceful with the Cham girls sitting next to the window weaving the cloths and scarf for themselves. 

The Cham in An Giang follow Islam Islamic originated from Malaysia. Males of all ages are short hair, wear hat to come to cathedral (white hats for the old and black hats for the young). Females wear long dress with Mat’ra scarf on their heads. 
 
Beautiful women in Chau Doc with their angel smiles.
Despite many times coming to Cham villages,
the charming and subtle smile of the Cham girls keeps fascinating us. 

A Chau Doc man is bathing on the natural water of Mekong River.
The Cham have the habit of setting up their villages on riversides.
The villages gather closely next to and reflect on the clear and cool river water. 

The Cham in An Giang follow the environmental friendly living style, based on fishing, brocade weaving and small business. At present, a group of the people here know how to do tourism business and provide tourist services. 

Discover more Mekong Delta culture :


Religious life 

The Cham in An Giang do not build temple as their ancestors did in the Central region, but build cathedral for ritual practice. They follow Muslim, so all of their religious activities related to cathedrals.
 
A typical mosque of Cham in Chau Doc
A mosque of Cham village Chau Doc.
 
All the cathedrals have the symbols of the sun and the crescent moon. The doors and roof are in arch shape with the major colour of white. Each village has its own cathedral. Large village has a big cathedral and some smaller ones for the locals come there conveniently. The size of the cathedral is various from village to village, but they are all have some features in common.

One of the most famous cathedrals with unique architecture of An Giang Cham Village is Mubarak in Chau Giang, Phu Hiep commute. This cathedral’s architecture is similar to those in cathedrals in Islamic states with arch roofs, 4 towers at 4 corners. Standing on the shore of Chau Doc River or floating on Chau Giang Ferry, you can see this cathedral which has been recognized as an architectural relic. Besides, there are many other cathedrals built by the Cham on two sides of the road leading to Tan Chau and An Phu.
 
Cham wedding in An Phu Chau Doc
A wedding of Cham people. 
 
Among the 9 Cham villages in An Giang, Chau Phong is the largest village with more than 500 households and above 2500 residents divided into 7 small groups. Each group has its own small cathedral where the locals come to practise every day. 

On Friday only, all the people must come to the large cathedral (Chau Phong) at 12:00 o’clock to pray. Women, on the other hand, pray at home. According to Mr. Ismal, the Cham pray 5 times a day: early morning, midday, afternoon, evening and night. He explained that: “cathedral is the place for praying, ritual practising and school for Cham children to learn Arabia language. The Islamic Cham cannot be separated from cathedrals where they send all their hopes and receive lessons from Koran to lead a better life. Many of the Cham now busy with their work, so they cannot come to cathedrals 5 times a day. However, they must practise at their home for not making sin. 

 

Things to know when visiting Cham Chau Giang village

  •  Do not use gestures, actions, words that are unfriendly
  • The cathedral is a sanctuary, so you can only enter without permission from the management.
  • Limit contact, stand side by side with unmarried women.
  • Souvenir goods sold here are very reasonable, so do not pay the price.
  • If you are invited to a local home, you should follow the rules of the landlord.

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