My Son – A masterpiece of Cham Architecture

My Son Holy land (Thánh địa Mỹ Sơn) – a unique beautiful sanctuary world of the ancient Chăm religion, is day by day attracting thousands of tourists elsewhere.

Situated inside the 2-kilometer wide valley in Quang Nam province, the My Son Sanctuary temple complex was ever the central praying and worship ceremony place of Cham Pa reigns. My Son is also a tool to assist the reigns to contact with God and Saints. The land accordingly become the significant religious and cultural center of Cham Pa reigns.

 The Chăm people (người Chăm or người Chàm in Vietnamese) belong to an ethnic group in Southeast Asia. They formed the core of the Muslim communities in both Cambodia and Vietnam. Chăm is remnant of the Chăm Pa Kingdom (7th to 15th centuries), closely related to the Malay race.

 All of the Chăm towers were built on a quadrate foundations and each comprises three parts: a solid tower base, representing the world of human beings, the mysterious and sacred tower body, representing the world of spirits, and the tower top built in the shape of a man offering flowers and fruits or of trees, birds, animals, etc., representing things that are close to the spirits and human beings.

 According to many researchers of the ancient Chăm towers, the architectural art of the Chăm towers at Mỹ Sơn Sanctuary is the convergence of different styles, including the continuity of the ancient style in the 7th-8th centuries, the Hoa Lai style of the 8th-9th centuries, the Dong Duong style from the mid-9th century, the Mỹ Sơn and Mỹ Sơn-Binh Dinh styles, etc. Among the remnants of many architectural sites excavated in 1898, a 24 metres high tower was found in the Thap Chua area and coded AI by archaeologists and researchers on Mỹ Sơn.

This tower is a masterpiece of ancient Chăm architecture. It has two doors, one in the east and the other in the west. The tower body is high and delicate with a system of paved pillars; six sub-towers surrounding the tower. This two-storey tower looks like a lotus flower. The top of the upper layer is made of sandstone and carved with elephant and I ion designs. In the lower layer, the walls are carved with fairies, water evils and men riding elephants. Unfortunately, the tower was destroyed by US bombs in 1969.

My Son Holy Land

The sanctuary comprises more than 70 architectural works. They include temples and towers that connect to each other with complicated red brick designs. The main component of the Chăm architectural design is the tower, built to reflect the divinity of the king. Bricks are main material for the construction of the Cham Towers. However, it has yet been unable to figure out the reasonable explanation for the linking material, brick baking method, and construction method of the Cham Pa. Even these days, this still remains as an attractive secret to contemporary people.

Although there are not many remnants left, those that remain display the typical sculptural works of cultural value of the Chăm nationality.They are also vivid proof, confirming the history of a nationality living within the Vietnamese community boasting of a rich cultural tradition.

Honorably recognized as a World Heritage in 1999, My Son Holy Land is captivating in various cultural values. Therefore, it is extremely useful and meaningful for those interested in Southeast Ahsian culture, which owes its core to ancient Cham culture, to drop off the land. Although time and the wars have destroyed some towers, the remaining sculptural and architectural remnants still reflect the style and history of the art of the Chăm people.

Their masterpieces mark a glorious time for the architecture and culture of the Chăm, as well as of Southeast Asia. If  tourists Vietnam travel like untouched nature and pre-touristic surrounding, don’t hesitate traveling to My Son holly!

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