Cham Religious Centre in the Jungle
|UNESCO: My Son Sanctuary, Quang Nam Province|
My Son doesn’t mean your son, the Vietnamese pronounce “Me Sern”. It is the World Heritage that was built by Cham people during their thriving time in Central Vietnam from 4th-14th Century.
Who are Cham?
Cham settled in Central Vietnam. Some say they came from Java. The dominant religion was Hinduism (Shivaism sect) then converted to Muslims after the 10th century. There were seafarers and got rich from maritime trade that different from Vietnamese who based on Agriculture. Hoi An was their major port.
Their culture was influenced by Indian, China, Cambodia and Java. Cham was the great enemy of Ancient Khmer as mentioned on Bas-relief wall in Bayon Temple, Ankor Thom, Cambodia but sometime political marriages happened.
Cham were sacked by Vietnamese emperor “Le Thanh Tong” on 15th century and moved to South. Now Cham people are minority Muslims in South of Vietnam.
|Decorative Carving Cut Directly on Brick Wall, My Son|
Art of Champa
Lingas are the symbol of Shiva
Segmented linga is a linga sculpture divided into three sections to represents the supreme three Gods or Trimurati:
The square-shape lowest section represents Brahma
The octagonal-shape middle section represents Vishnu
The circular-shape top section represents Shiva
Sandstone sculptures with delicate pattern carvings
The decorative carvings on the wall are cut directly onto the bricks
Brick is the main material for religious buildings
Top quality reddish brick and mortar production is unrevealed technique
Cham Temple complex consist of following:
Sanctuary for God worship, it is in form of tower connected with entry hall.
Fire-house, typically in saddle-shape roof, it is the store for preparing food and belonging of worship.
Gopura, it is the gate tower leading to the sanctuary within the enclosure.
|God Worship Sanctuary, My Son|
|Saddle Roof Fire House, My Son|
|Stone Linga, My Son|
My Day Tour
8USD with lunch and half way boat tour back to Hoi An
Admission fee 60,000VND
I decided to visit My Son UNESCO World Heritage Site with organised tour. It took approx 1hr for traveling to the site. There was hundred of tourist there at that time. However, it was not the big deal.
My Son Sanctuary is clustered complexes scattering through the forest in the valley. It is comprise of over 70 temples and royal tombs divided into 10 groups. The size of each group is pretty small, each building is tiny too. A1 is the masterpiece.
My Son was abandon after Cham was defeated by Vietnamese troop and fled to the South. It was rediscovered in 19th century by French M.C. Paris. French experts began to restore My Son during 1930’s. Later it was destroyed by American bombardment during Vietnam War. The restoration after the war is underway.
In term of age, My Son could compare with Angkor. In term of scale and amazing creations, it is not the right competitor. However, My Son itself is regarded as the foremost Hindu temple complex in Southeast Asia. Throughout my Vietnam World Heritage Sites visit, My Son is considered the unique heritage site. It not influenced by Chinese or French like others.
The boat tour begun at the bridge on the way back Hoi An. They served lunch on board and drop by handicraft village for 20-30min. Lunch was simple with delicious fried rice, banana and a bottle of water. On the way, there was nothing special but it was the way Cham commuted between Hoi An and My Son during their glorious days.