My Son, located 69 km southwest
of Danang, was an imperial city during the Cham dynasty, between the
4th and 12th centuries. My Son Sanctuary is a large complex of
religious relics that comprises more than 70 architectural works. They
include temples and towers that connect to each other with complicated
red brick designs. The main component of the Cham architectural design
is the tower, built to reflect the divinity of the king.
According to records on the stone
stele, the prime foundation of the ancient My Son architectural complex
was a wooden temple to worship the Siva Bhadresvera genie. In the late
16th century, a big fire destroyed the temple. Step by step,
historical mysteries were unveiled by scientists. Through stone stele
and royal dynasties, they proved My Son to be the most important Holy Land of the Cham people from the late 4th to
the 15th centuries. For many centuries, the Cham built Lip, a mutually
linked architectural complex, with baked bricks and sandstone. The main
temple worships the Linga-Yoni, who represents the capability of
invention. Beside the main tower (Kalan) are several sub-towers
worshipping Genies or deceased kings. Although time and the wars have
destroyed some towers, the remaining sculptural and architectural remnants
still reflect the style and history of the art of the Cham people.
Their masterpieces mark a glorious time for the architecture and
culture of the Cham, as well as of Southeast Asia.
Each historical period has its own identity, so that each temple
worshipping a genie or a king of a different dynasty has its own
architectural style full of different impression. All of the Cham
towers were built on a quadrate foundations and each comprises three
parts: a solid tower base, representing the world of human beings, the
mysterious and sacred tower body, representing the world of spirits,
and the tower top built in the shape of a man offering flowers and
fruits or of trees, birds, animals, etc., representing things that are
close to the spirits and human beings.
According to many researchers
of the ancient Cham towers, the architectural art of the Cham towers at
My Son Sanctuary is the convergence of different styles, including the
continuity of the ancient style in the 7th-8th centuries, the Hoa Lai
style of the 8th-9th centuries, the Dong Duong style from the mid-9th
century, the My Son and My Son-Binh Dinh styles, etc. Among the
remnants of many architectural sites excavated in 1898, a 24 metres high tower was found in the Thap
Chua area and coded A I by archaeologists and researchers on My Son.
This tower is a masterpiece of ancient Cham architecture. It has two
doors, one in the east and the other in the west. The tower body is
high and delicate with a system of paved pillars;
six sub-towers surround the tower. This two storey tower looks
like a lotus flower. The top of the upper layer is made of sandstone
and carved with elephant and I ion designs. In the lower layer, the
walls are carved with fairies and water evils and men riding elephants.
Unfortunately, the tower was destroyed by US bombs in 1969.
After the My Son ancient tower
complex was discovered, many of its artifacts, especially statues of
female dancers and genies worshipped by the Cham people, worship
animals and artifacts of the daily communal activities, were collected
and displayed at the Cham
Architecture Museum in Danang city. Although
there are not many remnants left, those that remain display the typical
sculptural works of cultural value of the Cham nationality.
Furthermore, they are vivid proof, confirming the history of a
nationality living within the Vietnamese community boasting of a rich