New paper in the Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology by Anne-Valérie Schweyer:
Set apart from the so-called ‘Hinduisation’ process, the Cham country is characterised by the presence of many sites or shrines dedicated to local deities. This paper—based on the analysis of archaeological and anthropological evidence—aims to identify these cults, to clarify the associated practices and to demonstrate how the local cults map out the entire local geography. Moreover, in central Vietnam, it is possible to precisely examine ‘potent places’ in order to achieve a better understanding of the local cults and the persistence of those cults from antiquity to the present. In ancient times, each local deity was connected to a political power, which ‘exhaled’ it and, at the same time, put a mark on the territory. The diversity of potent places allows a better understanding of puzzling territories. The continuity of ritual practices performed at Cham potent places, centuries after the disappearance of any form of Cham political power, shows the link between the first occupants of the land and the following Viet inhabitants.
Source: Potent Places in Central Vietnam: ‘Everything that Comes Out of the Earth is Cham’
A sacred rosewood tree that was controversially cut down last year in Siem Reap gets a new life as sacred sculptures.
Wood from a revered rosewood tree that Apsara Authority employees cut down in November has found new life as five sculptures depicting historical and folk spirits, appeasing villagers upset by the felling of their sacred tree.
Five employees for Apsara, which manages Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap province, were arrested under orders from Prime Minister Hun Sen following a national outcry over the fate of the centuries-old tree from Siem Reap City’s Kokchak commune.
Source: Felled Angkor Rosewood Tree Reborn as Sacred Sculptures – The Cambodia Daily
The National Museum in Bangkok is having a special exhibition featuring female deities from various religions in Thailand: Buddhism, Hinduism and indigenous cults.
Goddesses exhibition at the National Museum of Bangkok. Source: Bangkok Post 20150527
The feminine divine
Bangkok Post, 27 May 2015
To celebrate the 60th birthday of HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, the Fine Arts Department is hosting a special exhibition, “Feminine Deities: Buddhism, Hinduism And Indigenous Cults In Thailand”, at the National Museum Bangkok. The objective is to disseminate knowledge about faith and beliefs relating to women in Thailand through the ages via religious sculptures.
The exhibition is divided into four parts — Goddesses: Traditional Beliefs From The Past; Goddesses In Brahmanism-Hinduism: The Supreme Power Of Females; Female Deities In Buddhism: The Power Of Intellect; and Goddesses In Traditional Beliefs: The Power Of Nature.
The first section shows that people have believed in the existence of goddesses since prehistoric times. Goddesses are believed to have supernatural powers, which allow them to control aspects of nature. Accordingly, people believe that they can indirectly influence nature by worshipping goddesses. The Mother Goddess or Earth Goddess is believed to be responsible for the fertility of women and their natural mothering instincts. Sculptures of women produced by ancient civilisations in Europe, Asia, America and Africa provide evidence of the widespread belief in the power of goddesses and the high status of women at that time. Their most notable features are their large hips (signifying the ability to give birth) and breasts (signifying the ability to nurture). Even in the present day, goddesses are still widely worshipped by followers of certain religions.
Full story here.