Chau Giang - The Cham village in Chau Doc

In a summer day, I visited An Giang, came to Chau Doc, sitting on a small boat to visit Chau Giang, a Cham village in Chau Doc. In this side of the river is the crowded Chau Doc while on the other side, there are 7 peaceful Cham villages where people live mainly on weaving. Chau Giang is one of those 7 villages. 
 

The 10 minute ferry takes you cross over the Tien River to Chau Giang village.
 
Chau Giang is situated on Phu Tan district, An Giang province which is separated from Chau Doc by a river. Chau Giang Cham village is the gathering place of many Cham people in the South of Vietnam. Different from the Cham in the central region who follow Ba Ni or Brahmanism religion, the Cham in Chau Giang follow Islam with the strict mores of the official Islamic. For example, women wear wimpls. As I’ve heard, some Vietnamese boaters who used to live in refugee camps in Indonesia and Malaysia followed Islamic. When they came back to Vietnam, they were not back to their hometown but arrived to live in Chau Giang. 
A typical architecture of the Cham in the South is their wooden stilt house in the direction of East – West. The house is located on the rows of woods at the height of 2 or 3 meters. Below the house is the room for loom storage or for common living. At present, people often build surrounding wall so it is not empty like before.  
 
the peculiar architecture in Chau Giang Cham village 
 
Despite the same origin from the Central Coast, Tra Kieu – My Son sanctuary under Champa dynasty, the cultural practices of the Islamic Cham in An Giang are different from those of the Cham in Binh Thuan, Ninh Thuan as they are close to the cultural characteristics in the South. This land was described by the sweet words in the song of “Paranung drumbeat” written by a famous Vietnamese musician: 
I love Mat’ra scarf 
On your front 
I love Atidaz song 
With the sound of waves
I love the flowers at dawn 
On your shirt 
I love the moonlight 
On the vast rice fields
Like sunshine on Tien Giang
Like wind blows on Hau Giang
Like the words of missing 
In a distanced voice. 
 
There are some distinctions in the costumes of the Cham in Chau Giang. Males wear hats, which are black for the young and white for the old. They also wear sarong. Females wear the Mat’re on their head or the very nice hair covering caps while wearing the long dress in Cham style. 
 
Cham people in Chau Giang with the typical white hat

We visited Masjid mosque which has the symbols of the sun and the crescent moon, representing Islamic; doors and roof in the shape of a cone. The key color of the mosque is white. There is no statue in the mosque as they do not worship idolatrous. I covered a scarf on my head to show my respect to the regulations of Islam. 
 
The Muslim Mosque in the Cham village in Chau Doc 
 
The Cham have to pray 5 times a day. If they are too busy to go to the mosque, they need to pray at home. Mosque is the place where not only religious activities take place but also children are taught to read and write. More specially, they teach people to read the Koran in Arabic. The behind of the mosque is the cemetery of the Cham. This place looks simple as their opinions on dead is simple as well.  
 
Next, we visited a weaving workshop and were welcomed by some friendly middle- aged women. There is no girl at the workshop. The Cham girls who have not got married are often stay at home and don’t often meet with strangers. Weaving looms of the Cham are the large ones. Until now, they are still weaving by handmade wooden looms. Some women started weaving to show me. From their hands, the unique patterned cloths appeared. They also weave head scarf and hair covering hats. I tried to wear both of them and saw myself different from other days. 
 
Chau Giang is very famous with the imagine of brocade waving woman. 
 
We said goodbye to Chau Giang Cham village in wistfulness. The village has kept the beauty of a culture and arts worshipping and architectural talented community. However, deep in the sad eyes of the Cham I’ve met here, there exists the regret and melancholy about a prosperous time of a bygone kingdom.  

The best Homestay Tour visits Chau Giang Village to learn more about the Cham minority here.

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