Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Art of Champa

Art of Champa

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Art of Champa'
Start a new discussion about 'Art of Champa'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Champa
Champa
The kingdom of Champa was an Indianized kingdom that controlled what is now southern and central Vietnam from approximately the 7th century through to 1832.The Cham people are remnants...

 was an Indic civilization that flourished along the coasts of what is now central and southern Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

 for roughly a one thousand year period between 500 AD and 1500 AD. The original Chams were probably colonists from the Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

n islands, who adopted as their principal vocations those of trade, shipping, and piracy. Their cities were ports of call on important trade routes linking India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 and the Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

n islands. The history of Champa was one of intermittent conflict and cooperation with the people of Java
Java
Java is an island of Indonesia. With a population of 135 million , it is the world's most populous island, and one of the most densely populated regions in the world. It is home to 60% of Indonesia's population. The Indonesian capital city, Jakarta, is in west Java...

, the Khmer
Khmer people
Khmer people are the predominant ethnic group in Cambodia, accounting for approximately 90% of the 14.8 million people in the country. They speak the Khmer language, which is part of the larger Mon–Khmer language family found throughout Southeast Asia...

 of Angkor
Angkor
Angkor is a region of Cambodia that served as the seat of the Khmer Empire, which flourished from approximately the 9th to 15th centuries. The word Angkor is derived from the Sanskrit nagara , meaning "city"...

 in Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

 and the Dai Viet of what is now northern Vietnam. It was to the Dai Viet that Champa finally lost its independence.

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 Chams, which synthesized elements of Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 (especially Saivism), Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 and indigenous cults.

Sadly, this artistic legacy has been decimated by neglect, war, and vandalism. Much of the damage has been done in the twentieth century. Some French scholars such as Henri Parmentier and Jean Boisselier were able to take photographs, create drawings, and pen descriptions of works which have been destroyed in the meantime. Neglect continues to endanger the legacy of Champa to this day, especially the neglect of the inscribed stone stele
Stele
A stele , also stela , is a stone or wooden slab, generally taller than it is wide, erected for funerals or commemorative purposes, most usually decorated with the names and titles of the deceased or living — inscribed, carved in relief , or painted onto the slab...

s, the source of much valuable information on the history of Champa. The participants in the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 wrought their share of devastation, wiping out for example the vestiges of the Buddhist monastery at Dong Duong (Quang Nam). Willful vandalism and pilfering are an ongoing concern.

The largest collection of Cham art is on exhibit at the Museum of Cham Sculpture
Museum of Cham Sculpture
The Museum of Cham Sculpture is a museum located in Hai Chau district, Đà Nẵng, central Vietnam. The museum was founded in 1915 as the Musée Henri Parmentier during the colonial French era to preserve the finds of the ancient Champa kingdom and is the only museum in the world dedicated solely to...

 in Da Nang
Da Nang
Đà Nẵng , occasionally Danang, is a major port city in the South Central Coast of Vietnam, on the coast of the South China Sea at the mouth of the Han River. It is the commercial and educational center of Central Vietnam; its well-sheltered, easily accessible port and its location on the path of...

. Substantial collections are housed in the Guimet Museum
Guimet Museum
The Guimet Museum is a museum of Asian art located at 6, place d'Iéna in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, France...

 in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, the Museum of Vietnamese History
Museum of Vietnamese History
The Museum of Vietnamese History is located at 2 Nguyen Binh Khiem Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Formerly known as "Musée Blanchard de la Brosse" and "The National Museum of Viet Nam in Sai Gon", it received its current name in 1979. It is a museum showcasing...

 in Saigon, and the Museum of History in Hanoi
Hanoi
Hanoi , is the capital of Vietnam and the country's second largest city. Its population in 2009 was estimated at 2.6 million for urban districts, 6.5 million for the metropolitan jurisdiction. From 1010 until 1802, it was the most important political centre of Vietnam...

. Smaller collections may be found in the Museum of Fine Arts in Saigon and the Museum of Fine Arts in Hanoi.

Forms of visual art


The remnants of classical Cham art extant today consist mainly in temples of brick, 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. There are no works of marble or other higher quality stone. Likewise there are no paintings or sketches. The people of Champa wrote, and perhaps also sketched, on leaves, which have not withstood the hot and humid climate of coastal Vietnam. Items made of perishable materials, such as wood, for the most part have not survived.

Metal statues and jewelry


The remaining works of art made of metal include bronze statues of the Mahayanist
Mahayana
Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

 deities Lokesvara and Tara
Tara (Buddhism)
Tara or Ārya Tārā, also known as Jetsun Dolma in Tibetan Buddhism, 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...

 dated approximately 900 AD and associated with the Buddhist art of Dong Duong. An even older bronze statue of the Buddha
Buddha
In Buddhism, buddhahood is the state of perfect enlightenment attained by a buddha .In Buddhism, the term buddha usually refers to one who has become enlightened...

 bears a strong resemblance to Indian Buddhist statues of the Amaravati style; scholars doubt that it was originally from Champa, surmising instead that it must have come into the country as part of the maritime trade that linked India with Southeast Asia and China.


We have abundant textual evidence of much classical Cham art that once existed that has been lost to the ravages of time and the depredations of human vandals, looters, and conquerors. For example, the early 14th century Chinese historian Ma Duanlin
Ma Duanlin
Mă Duānlín was a Chinese historical writer and encyclopædist. In 1317 he published the comprehensive Chinese encyclopedia Wenxian Tongkao in 348 volumes....

 reported the existence of a large statue of the Buddha made of gold and silver; the current whereabouts of this statue are unknown. The Cham kings themselves have left us stone inscriptions describing the gifts of now lost precious objects they made to the shrines and sanctuaries of the realm. Especially noteworthy was the practice of donating decorated metallic sleeves (kosa) and diadems (mukuta) to important lingas and the divinities with which they were affiliated. For example, an inscription on a stone stele
Stele
A stele , also stela , is a stone or wooden slab, generally taller than it is wide, erected for funerals or commemorative purposes, most usually decorated with the names and titles of the deceased or living — inscribed, carved in relief , or painted onto the slab...

 dated approximately 1080 AD and found at My Son reports that King Harivarman donated a "large, resplendent golden kosa adorned with the most beautiful jewels, more brilliant than the sun, illuminated day and night by the rays of shining gems, decorated by four faces" to the deity Srisanabhadresvara, a local embodiment of Siva
Shiva
Shiva is a major Hindu deity, and is the destroyer god or transformer among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine. God Shiva is a yogi who has notice of everything that happens in the world and is the main aspect of life. Yet one with great power lives a life of a...

. A few years later, around 1088, Harivarman may have been outdone by his successor Indravarman, who donated a golden kosa with six faces (facing in the four cardinal directions, toward the Northeast and the Southeast) topped off by a nagaraja (serpent-king) ornament, and decorated with precious gemstones including a ruby, a saphire, a topaz, and a pearl. Neither of these treasures has survived.

The written sources, including the Chinese books of history and the Cham inscriptions, also report on some of the catastrophic events, primarily acts of war, that led to the loss of Cham art. In the second quarter of the 5th century AD, according to the historian Ma Duanlin
Ma Duanlin
Mă Duānlín was a Chinese historical writer and encyclopædist. In 1317 he published the comprehensive Chinese encyclopedia Wenxian Tongkao in 348 volumes....

, a Chinese general named Yuen Kan sacked the capital of Champa, making off with many "rare and precious objects," including "tens of thousands of pounds of gold in ingots coming from statues which he had smelted." Similarly, at the beginning of the 7th century a marauding Chinese general named Liu Fang
Liu Fang
Liu Fang is one of the most prominent pipa players in the world. Born in Kunming in the Chinese province of Yunnan, she began playing the pipa at the age of 6. Her first solo public performance was at the age of 9. In 1986, at age 11, she played for Queen Elizabeth II...

 made off with "eighteen massive tablets of gold" commemorating the 18 previous kings of Champa. It is to be assumed that in the centuries that followed, frequent raids and conquests by Khmer
Khmer people
Khmer people are the predominant ethnic group in Cambodia, accounting for approximately 90% of the 14.8 million people in the country. They speak the Khmer language, which is part of the larger Mon–Khmer language family found throughout Southeast Asia...

 and Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

ese armies, which led to the eventual destruction of Champa as an independent political entity, likewise resulted in the removal of any portable works of art, including of course any works made of precious metals.

Temples of brick



Unlike the Khmer
Khmer people
Khmer people are the predominant ethnic group in Cambodia, accounting for approximately 90% of the 14.8 million people in the country. They speak the Khmer language, which is part of the larger Mon–Khmer language family found throughout Southeast Asia...

 of Angkor
Angkor
Angkor is a region of Cambodia that served as the seat of the Khmer Empire, which flourished from approximately the 9th to 15th centuries. The word Angkor is derived from the Sanskrit nagara , meaning "city"...

, who for the most part employed a grey stone to construct their religious buildings, the Cham built their temples from reddish bricks. Some of these brick structures can be still be visited in the Vietnamese countryside. The most important remaining sites include My Son near Da Nang
Da Nang
Đà Nẵng , occasionally Danang, is a major port city in the South Central Coast of Vietnam, on the coast of the South China Sea at the mouth of the Han River. It is the commercial and educational center of Central Vietnam; its well-sheltered, easily accessible port and its location on the path of...

, Po Nagar
Po nagar
Po Nagar is a Cham temple tower founded sometime before 781 AD and located in the medieval principality of Kauthara, near modern Nha Trang in Vietnam...

 near Nha Trang
Nha Trang
Nha Trang is a coastal city and capital of Khanh Hoa province, on the South Central Coast of Vietnam. It is bounded on the North by Ninh Hoà district, on the East by the South China Sea, on the South by Cam Ranh town and on the West by Diên Khánh district...

, and Po Klaung Garai
Po klaung garai
Po Klong Garai is a Cham temple tower located in the medieval Cham principality of Panduranga, near the city of Phan Rang in what is now southern Vietnam. It was built in honor of the legendary king Po Klaung Garai by the historic King Jaya Simhavarman III, who ruled Champa from c...

 near Phan Rang.

Buildings constituting a temple


Typically, a Cham temple complex consisted of several different kinds of buildings.
  • The kalan was the brick sanctuary, typically in the form of a tower, used to house the deity.
  • The mandapa was an entry hallway contiguous with a sanctuary.
  • The kosagrha or "fire-house" was the construction, typically with a saddle-shaped roof, used to house the valuables belonging to the deity or to cook for the deity.
  • The gopura was a gate-tower leading into a walled temple complex.

These building types are typical for Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 temples in general; the classification is valid not only for the architecture of Champa, but also for other architectural traditions of Greater India
Greater India
Greater India is a term that refers to the historical spread of the culture of India beyond the Indian subcontinent...

.

Most significant temples



The culturally most important temples of historical Champa were the temple of Bhadresvara located at My Son near modern Da Nang
Da Nang
Đà Nẵng , occasionally Danang, is a major port city in the South Central Coast of Vietnam, on the coast of the South China Sea at the mouth of the Han River. It is the commercial and educational center of Central Vietnam; its well-sheltered, easily accessible port and its location on the path of...

, and the temple of the goddess
Po nagar
Po Nagar is a Cham temple tower founded sometime before 781 AD and located in the medieval principality of Kauthara, near modern Nha Trang in Vietnam...

 known as Bhagavati (her Hindu name) or Yan Po Nagar (her Cham name) located just outside modern Nha Trang
Nha Trang
Nha Trang is a coastal city and capital of Khanh Hoa province, on the South Central Coast of Vietnam. It is bounded on the North by Ninh Hoà district, on the East by the South China Sea, on the South by Cam Ranh town and on the West by Diên Khánh district...

.
  • The temple of Bhadresvara was the principle religious foundations of northern Champa (known as Campadesa, Campapura or nagara Campa in the inscriptions). Scholars have identified the temple of Bhadresvara, a local incarnation of the universal deity Siva
    Shiva
    Shiva is a major Hindu deity, and is the destroyer god or transformer among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine. God Shiva is a yogi who has notice of everything that happens in the world and is the main aspect of life. Yet one with great power lives a life of a...

    , with the edifice "A1" at My Son. Though today A1 is in the process of devolving into a pile of rubble, it still existed as a magnificent tower when French scholars described it at the beginning of the 20th century.
  • The temple of Yan Po Nagar was the principle religious foundation of southern Champa (or Panduranga, a word that is the basis for the modern name "Phan Rang.") Its buildings date from between the 8th and 13th centuries AD. The temple remains standing to this day across the Cai River from Nha Trang, and is in relatively good condition.

Sandstone sculptures



The Cham created freestanding sandstone sculptures in the round, as well as haut-relief and bas-relief carvings of sandstone. In general, they appear to have preferred sculpting in relief, and they excelled especially at sculpture in high relief. Cham sculpture went through a marked succession of historical styles, the foremost of which produced some of the best works of Southeast Asian art.

The subject-matter of Cham sculpture is drawn mostly from the legends and religion of India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

n civilization. Many of the sculptures are representations of particular Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 and Buddhist deities, most prominently Siva
Shiva
Shiva is a major Hindu deity, and is the destroyer god or transformer among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine. God Shiva is a yogi who has notice of everything that happens in the world and is the main aspect of life. Yet one with great power lives a life of a...

, but also Lokesvara, Visnu, Brahma
Brahma
Brahma is the Hindu god of creation and one of the Trimurti, the others being Vishnu and Shiva. According to the Brahma Purana, he is the father of Mānu, and from Mānu all human beings are descended. In the Ramayana and the...

, Devi
Devi
Devī is the Sanskrit word for Goddess, used mostly in Hinduism, its related masculine term is deva. Devi is synonymous with Shakti, the female aspect of the divine, as conceptualized by the Shakta tradition of Hinduism. She is the female counterpart without whom the male aspect, which represents...

, and Shakti
Shakti
Shakti from Sanskrit shak - "to be able," meaning sacred force or empowerment, is the primordial cosmic energy and represents the dynamic forces that are thought to move through the entire universe in Hinduism. Shakti is the concept, or personification, of divine feminine creative power, sometimes...

. Such sculptures may have served a religious purpose rather than being purely decorative. Any sculpture in the round of an important deity that is completely forward-oriented, not engaged in any particular action, and equipped with symbolic paraphernalia, would have been a candidate for ritual or devotional use. Cham sculptors also created numerous lingas, phallic posts linked symbolically with Siva
Shiva
Shiva is a major Hindu deity, and is the destroyer god or transformer among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine. God Shiva is a yogi who has notice of everything that happens in the world and is the main aspect of life. Yet one with great power lives a life of a...

 (if the cross-section is a circle) or with the trimurti
Trimurti
The Trimurti is a concept in Hinduism "in which the cosmic functions of creation, maintenance, and destruction are personified by the forms of Brahmā the creator, Vishnu the maintainer or preserver, and Śhiva the destroyer or transformer," These three deities have been called "the Hindu triad" or...

 (if the post is segmented, consisting of a lower square section symbolic of Brahma
Brahma
Brahma is the Hindu god of creation and one of the Trimurti, the others being Vishnu and Shiva. According to the Brahma Purana, he is the father of Mānu, and from Mānu all human beings are descended. In the Ramayana and the...

, a middle octogonal section symbolic of Visnu, and a top circular section symbolic of Siva
Shiva
Shiva is a major Hindu deity, and is the destroyer god or transformer among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine. God Shiva is a yogi who has notice of everything that happens in the world and is the main aspect of life. Yet one with great power lives a life of a...

). The ritual uses of the linga are familiar from modern Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

.


A few of the sculptures in the art of Champa depart from the Indian subject-matter to reveal something of the life of the historical Cham people. An example are the especially well-executed representations of elephants that serve as decorative details in some pieces: from written sources we know that the Cham relied on elephants for military and other purposes, since they lacked a steady supply of horses. Other sculptures reflect the cultural legacy of Greater India
Greater India
Greater India is a term that refers to the historical spread of the culture of India beyond the Indian subcontinent...

 and express legendary themes more typical of Javanese or Cambodian
Culture of Cambodia
The culture of Cambodia has had a rich and varied history dating back many centuries, and has been heavily influenced by India. Throughout Cambodia's long history, a major source of inspiration was from religion...

 art than the art of India. An example of such a theme is the motif of the makara
Makara (Hindu mythology)
Makara is a sea-creature in Hindu mythology. It is generally depicted as half terrestrial animal and in hind part as aquatic animal, in the tail part, as a fish tail or also as seal...

 sea-monster, which came to Champa from Java, where it is prominent in the art of the Borobudur
Borobudur
Borobudur, or Barabudur, is a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist monument near Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia. The monument comprises six square platforms topped by three circular platforms, and is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues...

 and other temples of the same period.

Periods and styles of Cham art


Scholars agree that it is possible to analyze the art of Champa in terms of distinct "styles" typical for various historical periods and different locations. Several have attempted through their study to set down a classification of historical styles. Perhaps the most influential of these attempts are those of the French scholars Philippe Stern (The Art of Champa (formerly Annam) and its Evolution, 1942) and Jean Boisselier (Statuary of Champa, 1963). Summarizing the conclusions of these scholars, art historian Jean-François Hubert has concluded that it is possible to distinguish at least the following styles and sub-styles:
  • My Son E1 (7th to 8th century AD)
  • Dong Duong (9th to 10th century AD)
  • My Son A1 (10th century AD)
    • Khuong My (first half of 10th century AD)
    • Tra Kieu (second half of 10th century AD)
    • Chanh Lo (end of 10th century to mid-11th century AD)
  • Thap Mam (11th to 14th century AD)

Each style is named after a place in Vietnam at which works exempletive of that style have been found.

My Son E1 Style


The ruins at My Son are not all of the same style and do not all belong to the same period of Cham history. Scholars have coded the ruins to reflect the diversity of periods and styles. The earliest identifiable style has been dubbed the My Son E1 Style. It is named after a particular structure, which scholars refer to as My Son E1. Works of this style reflect foreign influence from a variety of sources, primarily from the Khmer
Khmer people
Khmer people are the predominant ethnic group in Cambodia, accounting for approximately 90% of the 14.8 million people in the country. They speak the Khmer language, which is part of the larger Mon–Khmer language family found throughout Southeast Asia...

 of pre-Angkor
Angkor
Angkor is a region of Cambodia that served as the seat of the Khmer Empire, which flourished from approximately the 9th to 15th centuries. The word Angkor is derived from the Sanskrit nagara , meaning "city"...

ian Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

, but also from the art of Dvaravati
Dvaravati
The Dvaravati period lasted from the 6th to the 13th centuries. Dvaravati refers to both a culture and a disparate conglomerate of principalities.- History :...

, of Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

, and of southern India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

.

Perhaps the most famous work of the My Son E1 style is a large sandstone pedestal dated from the second half of the 7th century AD. Originally, the pedestal had a religious function, and was used to support a huge lingam
Lingam
The Lingam is a representation of the Hindu deity Shiva used for worship in temples....

 as a symbol for Siva
Shiva
Shiva is a major Hindu deity, and is the destroyer god or transformer among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine. God Shiva is a yogi who has notice of everything that happens in the world and is the main aspect of life. Yet one with great power lives a life of a...

, the primary deity in Cham religion. The pedestal itself is decorated with relief
Relief
Relief is a sculptural technique. The term relief is from the Latin verb levo, to raise. To create a sculpture in relief is thus to give the impression that the sculpted material has been raised above the background plane...

 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.

Another important work of the My Son E1 style is the unfinished sandstone pediment
Pediment
A pediment is a classical architectural element consisting of the triangular section found above the horizontal structure , typically supported by columns. The gable end of the pediment is surrounded by the cornice moulding...

 that was once affixed over the main entrance to the temple at My Son E1. The pediment shows the dawn of the present era according to Hindu mythology
Hindu mythology
Hindu religious literature is the large body of traditional narratives related to Hinduism, notably as contained in Sanskrit literature, such as the Sanskrit epics and the Puranas. As such, it is a subset of Nepali and Indian culture...

. Vishnu
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

 is reclining at the bottom of the ocean. His bed is Sesha the serpent. A lotus grows upwards from Vishnu's navel, and Brahma
Brahma
Brahma is the Hindu god of creation and one of the Trimurti, the others being Vishnu and Shiva. According to the Brahma Purana, he is the father of Mānu, and from Mānu all human beings are descended. In the Ramayana and the...

 emerges from the lotus in order to recreate the universe.

Dong Duong Style


In 875 AD, the Cham king Indravarman II founded a new dynasty at Indrapura, in what is now the Quang Nam region of central Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

. Departing from the religious traditions of his predecessors, who were predominantly Shaivists
Shaivism
Shaivism is one of the four major sects of Hinduism, the others being Vaishnavism, Shaktism and Smartism. Followers of Shaivism, called "Shaivas," and also "Saivas" or "Saivites," revere Shiva as the Supreme Being. Shaivas believe that Shiva is All and in all, the creator, preserver, destroyer,...

, he founded the Mahayana Buddhist monastery of Dong Duong, and dedicated the central temple to Lokesvara. The temple complex at Dong Duong having been devastated by bombing during the Vietnam War, our knowledge of its appearance is limited to the photographs and descriptions created by French scholars earlier in the twentieth century. A fair number of sculptures of the period have survived, however, in the museums of Vietnam, and collectively they are known as the works of the Dong Duong Style. The style lasted until well into the 10th century.

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
Gautama Buddha
Siddhārtha Gautama was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. In most Buddhist traditions, he is regarded as the Supreme Buddha Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from the Indian...

, Buddhist monks, dharmapalas (guardians of the Budhist law), dvarapalas
Architecture of Cambodia
The period of Angkor is the period from approximately the latter half of the 8th century AD to the first half of the 15th century. If precise dates are required, the beginning may be set in 802 AD, when the founder of the Khmer Empire , Jayavarman II pronounced himself universal monarch and...

 (armed temple guardians), the bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
In Buddhism, a bodhisattva is either an enlightened existence or an enlightenment-being or, given the variant Sanskrit spelling satva rather than sattva, "heroic-minded one for enlightenment ." The Pali term has sometimes been translated as "wisdom-being," although in modern publications, and...

 Avalokiteshvara, and the goddess of compassion Tara
Tara (Buddhism)
Tara or Ārya Tārā, also known as Jetsun Dolma in Tibetan Buddhism, 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...

, who was also regarded as the shakti
Shakti
Shakti from Sanskrit shak - "to be able," meaning sacred force or empowerment, is the primordial cosmic energy and represents the dynamic forces that are thought to move through the entire universe in Hinduism. Shakti is the concept, or personification, of divine feminine creative power, sometimes...

 or spouse of Avalokiteshvara.

My Son A1 Style


The art of the My Son A1 style belongs to the 10th and 11th centuries AD, a period of Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 revival following the Buddhist period of Dong Duong, and also a period of renewed influence from Java
Java
Java is an island of Indonesia. With a population of 135 million , it is the world's most populous island, and one of the most densely populated regions in the world. It is home to 60% of Indonesia's population. The Indonesian capital city, Jakarta, is in west Java...

. This period has been called the "golden age" of Cham Art. The style is named after a temple at My Son, "the most perfect expression of Cham architecture" according to art historian Emmanuel Guillon, that fell victim to the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 in the 1960s. Most of the remaining monuments at My Son also belong to the My Son A1 style, including most of the constructions of groups B, C, and D.

As to the sculpture of the My Son A1 style, it is known as being light and graceful, in contrast with the more severe style of Dong Duong. According to Guillon, "It is an art of dance and movement, of grace, and of faces which sometimes wear a slight, almost ironic style, as though surprised by their own beauty." Indeed, dancers were a favorite motif of the My Son A1 sculptors. The style is also known for its fine relief images of real and mythical animals such as elephants, lions and garudas.

The My Son A1 style encompasses not only works of art found at My Son, but also works found at Khuong My and Tra Kieu, though the latter are sometimes treated as representing distinct styles. The works of Khuong My in particular are frequently treated as transitional between the styles of Dong Duong and My Son A1. Likewise, works found at Chanh Lo are sometimes treated as belonging to the My Son A1 style and sometimes treated as transitional between the My Son A1 and Thap Mam styles.

Khuong My Style


In the village of Khuong My in the Vietnamese province of Quang Nam stands a group of three Cham towers dating from the 10th century. The style of the towers and the artwork associated with them is transitional between the powerful style of Dong Duong and the more charming and delicate My Son A1 style. The style of Khuong My also exhibits Khmer and Javanese influence.

Tra Kieu Style


Although the Cham monuments at Tra Kieu in Quang Nam Province have been destroyed, a number of magnificent pieces of sculpture associated with the site remain and are preserved in museums. Especially noteworthy are a large pedestal serving as a base for a lingam that is known simply as the "Tra Kieu Pedestal" and another pedestal known as the "Dancers' Pedestal."

The Tra Kieu Pedestal, consisting of a base decorated with friezes in bas relief, an ablutionary cistern, and a massive lingam
Lingam
The Lingam is a representation of the Hindu deity Shiva used for worship in temples....

, 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
Krishna
Krishna is a central figure of Hinduism and is traditionally attributed the authorship of the Bhagavad Gita. He is the supreme Being and considered in some monotheistic traditions as an Avatar of Vishnu...

 as related in the Bhagavata Purana
Bhagavata purana
The Bhāgavata Purāṇa is one of the "Maha" Puranic texts of Hindu literature, with its primary focus on bhakti to the incarnations of Vishnu, particularly Krishna...

. At each corner of the pedestal, a leonine atlas
Atlas (architecture)
In the classical European architectural tradition an atlas is a support sculpted in the form of a man, which may take the place of a column, a pier or a pilaster...

 appears to support the weight of the structure above him.

The Dancers' Pedestal, likewise, is regarded as a masterpiece. The purpose and function of the pedestal, which has the shape of a corner piece, remain obscure. Each side of the corner is graced by a dancing apsara
Apsara
An Apsara , also known as Vidhya Dhari or Tep Apsar in Khmer, Accharā or A Bố Sa La Tư , Bidadari , Biradali , Widodari and Apson , is a female spirit of the clouds and waters in...

 and a music-playing gandharva
Gandharva
Gandharva is a name used for distinct mythological beings in Hinduism and Buddhism; it is also a term for skilled singers in Indian classical music.-In Hinduism:...

. The base underneath these figures is adorned with leonine heads and makara
Makara (Hindu mythology)
Makara is a sea-creature in Hindu mythology. It is generally depicted as half terrestrial animal and in hind part as aquatic animal, in the tail part, as a fish tail or also as seal...

s.

Thap Mam Style


After the 10th century, Cham art went into gradual decline. Both architecture, as exemplified by the temples of Po Nagar
Po nagar
Po Nagar is a Cham temple tower founded sometime before 781 AD and located in the medieval principality of Kauthara, near modern Nha Trang in Vietnam...

 and Po Klaung Garai
Po klaung garai
Po Klong Garai is a Cham temple tower located in the medieval Cham principality of Panduranga, near the city of Phan Rang in what is now southern Vietnam. It was built in honor of the legendary king Po Klaung Garai by the historic King Jaya Simhavarman III, who ruled Champa from c...

, and sculpture became more stereotyped and less original. Only the sculptures of mythical animals, such as the makara or the garuda
Garuda
The Garuda is a large mythical bird or bird-like creature that appears in both Hindu and Buddhist mythology.From an Indian perspective, Garuda is the Hindu name for the constellation Aquila and...

, could rival their counterparts of the earlier styles.

The Thap Mam Style of the 11th through the 14th century is named for an archaeological site in Binh Dinh Province
Binh Dinh Province
Bình Định is a province of Vietnam. It is located in Vietnam's South Central Coast region.-Administration:Binh Dinh is divided into one city and 10 districts:*An Lão*An Nhơn*Hoài Ân*Hoài Nhơn*Phù Cát*Phù Mỹ*Tuy Phước*Tây Sơn*Vân Canh...

, formerly Vijaya
Vijaya (Champa)
Vijaya was a city-state in the ancient kingdom of Champa in what is now south-central Vietnam. It was the capital of Champa for several centuries until it was conquered by Vietnam in 1471.-Geography, Economy, Transport:...

. The sculpture of this style is characterized by "a return to hieratic formalism and the simplification of shape, leading to a certain loss of vitality." The sculptors seem to have been concerned more with the detail of ornamentation than with the grace and motion of the figures themselves. Indeed, the style has been characterized as "baroque," in reference to the proliferation of ornamental details that distinguishes it from its more "classical" predecessors.

One of the most original motifs of the Thap Mam period was the sculpting in stone of a row of female breasts around the base of a pedestal. The motif first emerged in the 10th century (the Tra Kieu Pedestal at one point had such a row of breasts) and became characteristic of the Thap Mam Style. It appears to have no counterpart in the art of other Southeast Asian countries. Some scholars have identified this theme with figure of Uroja ("breasts"), the mythical ancestor of an 11th century dynasty at My Son, and claim a connection between this Uroja and the goddess venerated at Po Nagar
Po nagar
Po Nagar is a Cham temple tower founded sometime before 781 AD and located in the medieval principality of Kauthara, near modern Nha Trang in Vietnam...

.

External links