Quang Nam

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  • Other Names: 交趾 or 交阯 (V: Giao Chỉ, C: Jiāozhǐ, J: Kōshi), 塘中 (V: Đàng Trong)
  • Vietnamese/Japanese/Chinese: 広南 (Quảng Nam / Kônan / Guǎng nán)

Quang Nam, also known as Quinam, Đàng Trong, or Cochinchina,[1] was a region of southern-central Vietnam ruled by the Nguyen lords in the 16th-18th centuries. The Nguyen claimed loyalty to the Le Dynasty emperors based in the north, but sought to overthrow, or at least retain independence from, the Trinh lords who ruled Tonkin (the northern regions of the country). Though the Nguyen separated from the Trinh in 1600, war did not break out in earnest until 1627 or 1633, after which it continued until 1673, when a truce was called, and borders drawn. Tension remained between the two polities, however, until 1788, when both fell in the Tay Son Rebellion.

The first Japanese to travel to Quang Nam is believed to have been the pirate Shirahama Kenki, in 1585. He was driven off by Nguyen ships, but returned in 1599. In the meantime, Nguyen Hoang, lord of Quang Nam, communicated with Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1591, and with Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1601, marking the earliest extant official communications between Vietnamese and Japanese authorities.

By the 1600s, however, Quang Nam was home to a small but influential Nihonmachi, or Japantown. It was located in Hoi An, the busiest port in all of Vietnam; the Nguyen maintained their political capital some distance away at Ai Tu (later relocated to Hue). Though even at the height of the Japanese community there Hoi An was never home to more than eighty or so Japanese households, these residents were profoundly influential. Despite being considerably outnumbered by the thousands of Chinese residents,[2] the Japanese residents of the port, in conjunction with the captains of Japanese trade ships, dominated the local silk market. When a Japanese ship came in, local Japanese performed a formal inspection of the ship on behalf of local authorities, and then managed the transportation and sale of the cargo. They also selected local goods for the Japanese ship to purchase, and acted as intermediaries between the Japanese merchants and local authorities otherwise. So much of the newest and best silk was bought up by Japanese merchants each season that Chinese and Dutch traders were left with a considerably smaller supply from which to buy, and thus were forced to pay higher prices.

Members of this community also rose to official positions in the Nguyen court, or in local government, and some even married into the Nguyen family.[3] Hoi An was a very important port for Japanese trade; ten Japanese ships arrived in Hoi An each year, accounting for as much as one-quarter of all Japanese commercial activity in Southeast Asia in the early 17th century.[4]

Quang Nam began to expand southward into Cham territory as early as the 1610s. Keith Taylor identifies the rhetoric surrounding Quang Nam's assertion of its independence from the north, as well as its adoption of elements of the Austronesian cultural character of the Chams it conquered, as marking a significant shift in the development of "Vietnam" as an entity; for the first time, perhaps ever in history, Vietnam was divided, with its southern portion (Quang Nam) actively distancing itself from Vietnamese identity as defined by the north, and forging a new and additional, but no less authentic, Vietnamese identity.[5]

The Dutch established a factory in Hoi An in 1633, remaining into the 1700s. As in other Southeast Asian ports, once the shogunate's policy of maritime restrictions was put into place in the 1640s, the Japanese community in Hoi An diminished, eventually disappearing prior to the turn of the 18th century.

In response to French encroachment, the Nguyen lords began to suppress Christianity in their territory, and to persecute its followers (including Japanese Christians) in 1664-1665. This contributed further to the decline of the community. By 1695, only a handful of families remained. Even so, the Japanese trade with Hoi An, now operated through Chinese and Dutch intermediaries, remained the most important Southeast Asian port, in certain respects, for Japan well into the 1700s.[6]

A pair of elephants from Quang Nam were brought to Japan by a Chinese merchant in 1728, and given to the shogun as a gift.[7]

Lords of Quang Nam



  1. From Giao Chỉ, the Vietnamese version of the ancient Chinese term Jiāozhǐ, used in China to refer to Vietnam since c. 100 BCE. Keith Taylor, Views of seventeenth-century Vietnam: Christoforo Borri on Cochinchina & Samuel Baron on Tonkin, Cornell University Southeast Asia Program (2006), 15.
  2. A 1642 report to the Dutch East India Company by a Japanese inhabitant of the port describes a Chinese population of 4,000-5,000 and a Japanese population of 40-50. Laarhoven, Ruurdje (trans.) "A Japanese Resident's Account: Declaration of the Situation of Quinam Kingdom by Francisco, 1642." in Tana Li and Anthony Reid (eds.) Southern Vietnam under the Nguyễn: Documents on the Economic History of Cochinchina (Đàng Trong), 1602-1777. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (1993), 31.; by 1750, there were perhaps as many as 10,000 Chinese resident in the port, and even fewer Japanese than before. Kang, David C. “Hierarchy in Asian International Relations: 1300-1900.” Asian Security 1, no. 1 (2005): 69.
  3. Matt Matsuda, Pacific Worlds, University of Cambridge Press (2012), 89.
  4. Chen Chingho A. Historical Notes on Hội An (Faifo). Carbondale, Illinois: Center for Vietnamese Studies, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, (1974), 13.
  5. Keith Taylor, "Nguyen Hoang and the Beginning of Vietnam's Southward Expansion," in Anthony Reid (ed.), Southeast Asia in the Early Modern Era, Cornell University Press (1993), 62.
  6. Craig Lockard, “‘The Sea Common to All’: Maritime Frontiers, Port Cities, and Chinese Traders in the Southeast Asian Age of Commerce, Ca. 1400–1750.” Journal of World History 21, no. 2 (2010): 237.
  7. Marius Jansen, China in the Tokugawa World, Harvard University Press (1992), 38.