India & Vietnam: Friends forever

The Cham Pa Museum in Da Nang City was high on our list. We arrived in Da Nang early, left our stuff at the hotel and decided to walk to the museum. This place is centrally located.  Old French building was refurbished to accommodate most extensive collection of artefacts from the Cham civilisation .  

The Kingdom of Champa occupied Central Vietnam from 192 A.D to 1697, however this civilisation was at the highest point in the 9-10th centuries, approximately the same time when the Khmer kingdom flourished  in Cambodia. The Cham people were ethnically very different from the Vietnamese. Their preffered occupations were sailors and pirates. They predominantly practiced Hinduism until 15th century. Many Cham temples  – currently UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites – had Hindu and Buddhist sculptures installed.  

 

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This beauty greeted us just in front of the museum

 

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This is a replica of one of the temples. Unfortunately, none of them survive in good condition . They were slowly deteriorating with age or damaged during the recent wars.

 

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One of the sculptures, which were unearthed during recent archeological expedition.

 

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This is a fragment of the larger piece decorating a bottom of a column. Attention to details is remarkable. As well as craftsmanship

 

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This is a very tricky piece. It reminded me Khajuraho erotic temples, but less intense. Sex was obviously high on the list of activities in spare time.

 

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Some epic scenes – a woman fighting a snake, or a snake is seducing a woman. Your choice.

 

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This is definitely Goddess Kali – one of the most popular goddess in the Hindu religion representing sexuality and violence.

 

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One of the main Hindu Gods – Shiva. His images, sculptures and symbols can be found everywhere in Cham culture.

 

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A sculpture of Nandi, the sacred bull of Shiva

 

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This fragment of one of the temples was rendered over beautiful stone carvings.

 

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Elephant sculpture – could represent basically any Asian culture

 

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This is a citation from sex education tours, which offer students an escape from pure theory. “It is so astonishing,” said Pham Thu Thao, a 11-grade-student from the Thai Phien High School, “Thanks to the tour, I can understand what the round statue with 23 breasts under a linga implies. The breasts symbolise women. They symbolise giving birth and teach us about menstruation. The Cham culture has a really creative and artistic approach to sex education.” I am sure this is a real reason why those breasts were carved on many temples. 🙂

 

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An auditor is always an auditor. As soon as I saw this Dulux bench, my legs took me there on autopilot. It was like coming home. And it was very pleasant to sit under frangipani tree in this insane heat.

 

Trip to My Son Sanctuary

We wanted to avoid the crowds and traffic and watch sunrise at My Son temples.  Following this simple logic we booked a sunrise tour through a travel agency in Hoi An. Guess what?  To male our life more exciting nobody picked-us up from our hotel. This fact did not improve our mood, which was already compromised by early wake-up. To save  that day, we rebooked a trip through our hotel, but we obviously missed the sunrise. Needless to say, that by that stage the place was packed with tourists and the sun did not show any mercy on us.

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Our super enthusiastic guide Vin wearing ladies hat. First of all he decided to call us Elephant Team, even if we wanted to be Tigers. After he made us memorise the bus number in case we got lost. He had lots of fascinating stories for us. Majority of them included Shiva and his linga. Sexual aspect was very well covered during our tour.

 

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Very basic plan of the attraction.

 

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This is an entrance to My Son sanctuary. Here I come!

 

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This is one of the temples. This particular one is in pretty good condition comparing to others.

 

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Walls of the temples decorated with sculptures of Gods , Goddesses and other mythical creatures.

 

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The Goddesses wall – decorative carvings have been cut directly into the bricks. They look very elegant.

 

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Some sculptures were left on site for visitors to see. The better preserved ones were relocated to Cham Museum and to other museums around the country.

 

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VIP at the historic site

 

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This storehouse is a well surviving structure of the My Son sanctuary.

 

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Passage to the light

 

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Some carvings were dedicated to the God Vishnu

 

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Elephant carvings above the entrance to the temple. All of us felt very excited, as we were Elephants as well ( even if for a little while).

 

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This is the same sculpture, which is greeting visitors at the Cham Museum in Da Nang. Here it has a very important job to support the walls. Highly commendable. 

 

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I took this picture to illustrate the outstanding building skills of Cham masons. The vertical walls and small areas of smooth well aligned bricks are the original structure. The bricks, which half deteriorated are only 40 years old. Amasing, is not it?

 

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Cham fertility symbols: yoni and lingam. Why yoni is so much larger than lingam? Because Indians respect woman very much. What did he say?

 

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According to our sex-obsessed Elephant Leader, a lady who touches a lingam will be very lucky and have many children. I opted for lucky only, but lots of it. Therefore I had to grab the largest lingam available. Hmm, still waiting!

 

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In one of the building we found two large shells from the Vietnam War. The authorities put them on display to help us to understand that these temples did not have a chance to survive after an air raid.

 

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Devastating damage to the structures. Why does it always happen that invaders try to destroy historical and religious objects first?

 

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To our great satisfaction we found out that very extensive restoration work is being carried on site. One of the temples was pretty much rebuilt from the ground up.

 

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And this is a security guard, who supposed to keep greedy hands of visitors off the ruins. He did not give a damn. Apparently, many tourists like to grab a piece of brick or sculpture as a souvenir.

 

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This is my experimental photo with fish-eye lens, A beautiful peaceful place to sit down and digest all the information we received through the tour. Or die in peace and with dignity from heat exhaustion. 

 

As we found out cultural  links between  India and Vietnam go way back to 2nd century. The Cham people used the ancient Indian language Sanskrit. Some elements from a script of Southern India can be seen in Cham writing.  Close contacts between  Vietnamese civilization and Indian culture  left  an undeniable mark on both nations.

 

Source:  Bridging the divide by Le Huong  http://vietnamnews.vn/print/193949/bridging-the-divide.htm

Music:  Champa Lao  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuvyLtYYVUI

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