Champa Culture has masterpieces to be with the time

Published:  16:31 Thursday - December 08, 2011

Champa Culture has masterpieces to be with the time.Champa sculptors turned soulless blocks of stones and terra cotta into statues of genies, humans and animals in accordance with the Champa people’s vision.

The flourishing period of the Champa Kingdom existed for nearly 500 years, from the 11th century to the second half of the 15th century. It has left invaluable relics in the present-day province of Binh Dinh.

A part of the Binh Dinh Provincial Museum displaying ancient Champa sculptural items.

Most of the 150 ancient Champa architectural works on display at Binh Dinh Provincial Museum were found in the Thap Mam mound in Nhon Thanh Commune, An Nhon District of Binh Dinh Province. With skilful hands, Champa sculptors turned soulless blocks of stones and terra cotta into statues of genies, humans and animals in accordance with the Champa people’s vision. The sculptural pieces were imbued with the culture of Hinduism which portrays a scene of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva together with innumerable genies, priests and dancing girls.

Dancing Shiva Statue

In front of Binh Dinh Provincial Museum the pole of linga, a symbol of the Shiva Genie (a powerful genie of the Cham people) is placed in the middle. Beside it, there are human statues with specific identities: the priest sits in mediation with his eyes looking straight ahead, his face looking peaceful and his hands holding the string of a rosary. The dancing Goddess Sarasvati with firm breasts, narrow waist, and slender thighs look animated and full of vitality. Her legs are lowered with her knees stretching to both sides. One leg stands firm, supporting the body while the other leg on tiptoe seems to be spinning to the rhythms of the body and arms. The statues of elephants, lions and cows or statues of mythological animals are decorated with jewellery and other ornamental items. Some of these statues look gentle or honest or playful. Some look cruel and threatening and others show power.

The sculptural works on display at the museum show three periods of Champa art during the Binh Dinh era (11th – 15th century). The 11th – 12th century has Linga and Garuda at Thien Truc Pagoda, Cha Ban Citadel and a bas-relief of the dancing Goddess Binh Nghi. The 12th -13th century has lions in Cha Ban Citadel, Mam Tower, Khanh Van and the Dvarapala Genie at Nhan Son Pagoda (in Nhon Hau Commune). The 14th – 15th century has lions and a bas-relief of the Goddess Sarasvati in Phu Loc Tower. The first period shows the succession and inheritance of the previous Tra Kieu style. The last period shows the start of the Yang Mum style with typical sculptural architecture in Po Klaung Garai and Yang Prong.

Goddess Mahisamardini

Binh Dinh Provincial Museum is classifying, totaling and listing hundreds of valuable sculptural works in storage which were excavated at Duong Long Tower in Tay Son District.

According to Professor Cao Xuan Pho, an expert in Champa culture, during five centuries (11th – 15th) of the Binh Dinh era (called Vijaya at that time), there was contact between the Cham Kingdom, the Dai Viet (Vietnam) and the Angkor (Cambodia). Therefore, the architectural style is also influenced. For example, tere is the image of Maykana at the twin towers which looks like the dragon in the Ly Dynasty. There are the Garuda and Dvarapala in Nhan Son Pagoda. There is the Naga snake with three or five heads in Duong Long or the snake with seven heads in Ham Long Pagoda (Nhon Binh District, Quy Nhon Province). The multi-headed snakes serve as a parasol to protect Buddha against the Mara’s attack and they look similar to the image of the Buddha sitting under a Naga parasol in Angkor (Cambodia).

If tourists in Vietnam Travel have chance to visit Binh Dinh province, you should go to Binh Dinh Provincial Museum to learn more about Champa culture with lots of masterpieces.

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