On the way to My Son from Da Nang is the town of Tra Kieu, known during Champa times as Simhapura (‘Lion City’). It is thought that Simhapura was a political capital for Champa, while My Son was a spiritual capital of sorts. I was searching for the archaeological remains of Simhapura – reportedly the rectangular remains of a stone building or ramparts – but was unsuccessful. Nobody seemed to know where it was. But I did stumble upon this:
The Museum of Sa Huynh and Champa Culture is a fairly large building. I was the only visitor at the time, and the attendant seemed quite surprised that there were visitors at all. Stepping through the entrance, one is greeted with a linga depicting the Trimurti and a long bas-relief.
The actual collection is housed on the entire second floor. The lights were switched off, and the attendant followed me around, switching on the lights to the different parts of the museum as we walked through.
The Sa Huynh is a prehistoric culture found largely in the coastal areas of central and southern Vietnam. They share many similarities with prehistoric coastal cultures in Southeast Asia, particularly the islands and it is believed that the Su Huynh people spoke an Austronesian language.
The areas where Sa Huynh culture is found is often followed by remains from Champa, so it is thought that the two cultures are related. The Champa artifacts are not as impressive as the Museum in Da Nang – in fact, most of the sculptures are in fact replicas found on other museums.
Over at the My Son display, I saw something that I had not seen in the other museums and sites. These ceramics are thought to be roof tiles, perhaps the ends of tubes. What’s unique about them is that they have faces embossed on them, each of them unique!