Champa artistic items named national treasures
10:11 | 03/02/2014

VGP – Eight ancient exhibits representing the Champa culture are named among the country's 77 national treasures.

Champa was an Indic civilization that flourished along the coasts of what is now central and southern Viet Nam for roughly a one thousand year period between 500 and 1500 AD.

The remnants of classical Cham art extant today are seen mainly in brick temples, sandstone sculptures in the round, and sandstone sculptures in high and low relief. A few bronze sculptures and decorative items made of metal remain as well.

The artistic legacy of Champa consists primarily of sandstone sculptures - both sculpture in the round and relief sculpture - and brick buildings. Some metal statues and decorative items have also survived. Much of the remaining art expresses religious themes, and though some pieces would have been purely decorative, others would have served important functions in the religious life of the Champa, which synthesized elements of Hinduism (especially Saivism), Buddhism and indigenous cults.

Dong Duong Buddhist statue

1. Dong Duong Buddhist statue, is currently being kept at the Ho Chi Minh City History Museum in Ho Chi Minh City. 

This is the most famous statue of the Dong Duong dynasty, dated back to the 3rd Century. The statue has 32 marvelous physiognomies of the Buddha.

The Dong Duong style of sculpture has been described as a highly original style of "artistic extremism", "with exaggerated, almost excessively stylized features." The figures are characterized by their thick noses and lips and by the fact that they do not smile. Prominent motifs include scenes from the life of the Buddha, Buddhist monks, dharmapalas (guardians of the Buddhist law), dvarapalas (armed temple guardians), the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, and the goddess of compassion Tara, who was also regarded as the shakti or spouse of Avalokiteshvara.

Tara Bodhisattva statue

2. Tara Bodhisattva Statue is currently standing at the Champa Sculpture Art Museum in the central city of Da Nang. Made of bronze, the statue is 129.3 cm tall and bears gemstones in its eyes and forehead.

Tara is a female Bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism who appears as a female Buddha in Vajrayana Buddhism. She is known as the "mother of liberation", and represents the virtues of success in work and achievements.

My Son E1 alta

3. My Son E1 altar is currently kept at the Champa Sculpture Art Museum in Da Nang City.

The most famous work of the My Son E1 style is a large sandstone pedestal dated back to the second half of the 7th century. Originally, the pedestal had a religious function, and was used to support a huge lingam as a symbol for Siva, the primary deity in Cham religion.

The pedestal itself is decorated with relief carvings featuring scenes from the lives of ascetics: ascetics playing various musical instrument, an ascetic preaching to animals, an ascetic receiving a massage. To the Cham, the pedestal symbolized Mount Kailasa, the mythological abode of Siva which also accommodated numerous forest- and cave-dwelling ascetics, just as the lingam it supported represented the god himself.

Tra Kieu alta

4. Tra Kieu altar is currently placed at the Champa Sculpture Art Museum in Da Nang City. The altar is a typical symbol of the royal citadel of Champa in Tra Kieu.

The Tra Kieu Pedestal, consisting of a base decorated with friezes in bas relief, an ablutionary cistern, and a massive lingam, is regarded as one of the masterpieces of Cham art. The figures on the friezes are especially beautiful, and represent episodes from the life of Krishna as related in the Bhagavata Purana. At each corner of the pedestal, a leonine atlas appears to support the weight of the structure above him.

Devi Goddess statue

5. Devi Goddess statue is displayed at the Ho Chi Minh City History Museum in Ho Chi Minh City.

This stone statue is the most beautiful sculptured goddness in the Champa art, dated back to the 10th Century. The statue captures the beauty of an Indian goddess that has been "Champalized" with typical features of Champa culture. This Goddess has been called "the Venus of the East".

Vo Canh stele

6. Vo Canh stele is currently stored at the National Museum of History. The stele is a big green stone, telling the founding of Champa. The rectangle stele is 2.5 m tall, 72 cm wide and 67 cm thick. The stele’s face is carved with Sanskrit words.

Avalokitesvara statue

7. Avalokitesvara Hoai Nhon statue is being exhibited at the History Museum in Ho Chi Minh City.

8. Avalokitesvara statue (10th Century) is showcased at the History Museum in Ho Chi Minh City. The statue, weighing 35 kilos, was found by Henry de Pirey in a small monastery in Dai Huu, central Quang Binh Province.

Doc Chua animal statue

9. Doc Chua animal statue of Dong Nai culture was made around 3,000 years ago. It is stored at the Museum of Binh Duong Province. The small statue, with the length of 6.4 cm and height of 5.4 cm, is in the shape of a four-legged animal with a long head.  The unique statue was found in Doc Chua archeological site in southern Binh Duong Province.

By Thuy Dung

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