Viet Nam

My Son Holly Land

My Son Holly Land

My Son, located 69 km southwest of Danang, was an imperial city of the Champa kingdom from the 4th to the 12th centuries. My Son Sanctuary is a vast complex of religious relics comprising more than 70 architectural works, including temples and towers interconnected with intricate red brick designs. The main characteristic of Cham architecture is the towers, built to reflect the divinity of the king.

According to records on stone steles, the original foundation of the ancient My Son architectural complex was a wooden temple dedicated to worshiping the Siva Bhadresvara deity. In the late 16th century, a large fire destroyed the temple. Step by step, historical mysteries were unveiled by scientists. Through stone steles and royal dynasties, they proved My Son to be the most important Holy Land of the Cham people from the late 4th to the 15th centuries. For many centuries, the Cham built "Lip," a complex of interconnected structures, using baked bricks and sandstone. The main temple worships the Linga-Yoni, symbolizing creative power. Beside the main tower (Kalan) are several sub-towers worshiping deities or deceased kings. Although time and wars have destroyed some towers, the remaining architectural remnants and sculptures still reflect the style and history of Cham art. Their masterpieces signify a glorious era for Cham architecture and culture, as well as for Southeast Asia.

Each historical period has its own identity, so each temple dedicated to a deity or king from a different dynasty has its own unique architectural style, full of distinct impressions. All Cham towers were built on square foundations and each comprises three parts: a sturdy tower base, symbolizing the world of humans; the mysterious and sacred tower body, symbolizing the world of spirits; and the tower top built in the form of a person offering flowers and fruits, or in the shape of trees, birds, animals, etc., symbolizing elements close to spirits and humans.

According to many researchers of ancient Cham towers, the architectural art of the Cham towers at My Son Sanctuary represents a convergence of various styles, including the continuity of ancient styles in the 7th-8th centuries, the Hoa Lai style of the 8th-9th centuries, the Dong Duong style from the mid-9th century, the My Son style, and the My Son-Binh Dinh style, etc.

Among the remnants of many architectural sites excavated in 1898, a tower measuring 24 meters high was found in the Thap Chua area and was coded as A I by archaeologists and researchers of My Son. This tower is a masterpiece of ancient Cham architecture. It has two doors, one facing east and the other facing west. The tower body is tall and delicate with a system of paved pillars; six sub-towers surround the main tower. This two-story tower resembles a lotus flower. The upper layer is made of sandstone and carved with designs of elephants and lions. In the lower layer, the walls are adorned with fairies, water deities, and men riding elephants. Unfortunately, the tower was destroyed by American bombs in 1969.

After the ancient My Son tower complex was discovered, many artifacts, especially statues of female dancers and deities worshiped by the Cham people, along with statues of animals and artifacts depicting daily communal activities, were collected and displayed at the Cham Architecture Museum in the city of Danang. Although not many remnants remain, those that do display the typical sculptural works of cultural value of the Cham ethnicity. Furthermore, they serve as vivid evidence, confirming the history of an ethnic group living within the Vietnamese community, proud of its rich cultural heritage.


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