My Son Sanctuary
Quang Nam Province, Vietnam (Da Nang)
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Creative Commons image by Andries3
One of the earliest emergent polities known in Southeast Asia, recorded in Chinese dynastic records, was Champa. An important port in the South Sea, Champa was a crucial stop along the maritime trade route between China and India. More accurately however, Champa was a loose federation of kingdoms that dot the central Vietnamese coast. The name ‘Champa’ came from a 6th century inscription at the My Son Sanctuary.
The sanctuary of My Son represents some of the finest architecture by the Chams. Borrowing heavily from the architectural traditions of India and once thought of as an ‘Indianized’ state, current theories hold that the Cham state emerged locally and later adopted Hindu practices from cultural exchanges with traders to strengthen their positions of rulership.
The complex was originally made up of some 70 towers, but only 25 remain today. In stark contrast to the temples of Angkor, the ruins of My Son seem almost minimalist. They are, however, one of the earliest examples of monumental architecture in Southeast Asia and have existed longer than Angkor as well!
Find our more about Champa in:
– The Art of Champa by J. Hubert
– Early Cultures of Mainland Southeast Asia
– Hindu-Buddhist Art Of Vietnam: Treasures From Champa by E. Guillon
– The Indianized States of Southeast Asia by G. Coedes