The Champa Museum in Đà Nẵng

Ganesha. Meeting a statue of Ganesha, the Indian god of wisdom and much more, on the coast of the China sea is as surprising as it would be by the Atlantic. But this is the country of the Champas whose broadly Hindu religion flourished here for a thousand years Museum entrance. Main entrance of the Champa Museum which was opened in 1919 on a site where Champa sculptures had been gathered in the early twentieth century The artefacts of the Champa Kingdom are fascinating for the way the Hindu culture from the west, blended with the Chinese aesthetic, and produced works of great simplicity and dignity. The Champa Museum in Đà Nẵng is where many of these works are displayed. Mostly they come from the nearby Mỹ Sơn site (pronounced a bit like 'Mihi Sern'). The upper floor of the museum also has a collection of non-Champa items. The Champa Museum. A pot of coins recovered from a shipwreck of 400 years ago Soldier's armlet. Dating from the Đông Sơn culture (2,500-2,000 years ago), a soldier's Bronze Armlet Painted jug. An eighteenth century painted jug Sedan chair. This nineteenth century Sedan chair replete with many dragons Stone dragon. Dragons, the first thing one would expect... Stone dragon head. ...of an East Asian sculpture gallery Champa pedestal. And then, unexpectedly, a pedestal carved in the tenth century in the Champa Mỹ Sơn style with dragon-like figures... Figures on pedestal. ...combined with slightly plump Indian style people This meeting and, in places, merging of cultures is what makes the Champa carvings so special: some surfaces are covered by elaborate decoration, others are smooth and simple with dragons on guard Buddha on dias. These Champa carvings from around 900 CE have been reassembled into what was probably their original positions, they have a seated Buddha (simply attired) attended by a monk and a Bodhisattva... Hindu carving on dias. ...on platforms which have intricate Hindu style supports Vishnu reclining. This Mỹ Sơn style carving shows that most Hindu of themes: Vishnu reclining and the birth of Brahma, it dates from the second half of the seventh century Goddess Tara. A bronze statue from about 900 CE which (probably) shows Tara the Hindu goddess of protection. She retains her elaborate headdress... Goddess Tara rear. ...and emphasised endowment, but unlike her Indian representations the lines of her dress are simple Multi-armed goddess. The multiple arms of a Hindu goddess expressing her power to do many things at once Apsara goddess dancing. Apsara, the Female spirit of clouds and water, dancing in a tenth century Cham sculpture Visitors with lingam. One wonders if these American visitors are aware of quite what they are stroking! This lingam (with a base decorated with breasts) is one of many found at the Mỹ Sơn site Figure in situ in My Son. This carving is still in situ at Mỹ Sơn, it is formed from the bricks out of which the temples are constructed Women dancers. Dancers with hands working Thai style Lingam on site at My Son. One of the lingam still at the Mỹ Sơn site The word Champa is used to refer to the various sea-orientated principalities that existed on the east coast of Vietnam from around the second to the nineteenth centuries. They reached the height of the influence in the tenth century after which pressure from the Viet to the north eroded their power. Mỹ Sơn is some 45 kilometres to the south-east of Đà Nẵng and was a major religious centre for the Champas from the fourth to the fourteenth centuries. God statuette in My Son. The meeting of Hindu and Chinese aesthetic is summed up in this statue kept at Mỹ Sơn, traces of the Hindu god reduced to complete simplicity The next page goes to the Mỹ Sơn site, largely overgrown by tropical jungle, and having limited access because of ordnance remains from wars - and so made all the more tantalising. Hindu temple. line
Saturday 1st April 2017 Murphy on duty

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