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From the Asia Research Institute at the National University of Singapore:

The Mỹ Sơn and Pô Nagar Nha Trang Sanctuaries: On the Cosmological Dualist Cult of the Champa Kingdom in Central Vietnam as Seen from Art and Anthropology by Dr Tran Ky-Phuong

Date: 23/04/2008
Time: 15:00 – 16:30
Venue: Asia Research Institute, 469A Tower Block, Level 10, Bukit Timah Road, National University of Singapore @ BTC
Organisers: Dr TRAN Thi Que Ha

The talk deals with an attempt to detail the dualism observed in the cosmology of both the Cham monuments and contemporary Cham society. It first outlines the dualistic cults as represented in two royal sanctuaries, My Son in the north and Po Nagar Nha Trang in the south of the Champa kingdom. The My Son sanctuary was located in a deep valley surrounded by high mountain ranges and it was here that the god Bhadresvara/father/ mountain/areca were worshipped. On the other hand, the Po Nagar Nha Trang Sanctuary was located on a riverside hill near an estuary where the goddess Bhagavati/ Po Yang Inu Nagar/mother/sea/coconut were worshipped.

Similar to the dualism observed in these two key sanctuaries of Champa, we can also observe cosmological dualism within contemporary Cham communities along the south central coast of Vietnam. The Cham people of this region are divided into two groups based on their religions. One group, called the Cham or Ba-la-mon (Brahmanists) are adherents of an indigenized form of Hinduism; the other group called Bani, are adherents of an indigenized form of Islam. The talk will discuss details the cosmological dualism within these communities. The study concludes by suggesting that cosmological dualism is a key concept for understanding Champa, elucidating both the structure of the kingdom in the past as well as the structure of contemporary Cham society.

About the Speaker
TRAN Ky-Phuong is research fellow at National Library of Singapore (from January to July 2008); he is also senior researcher fellow of Vietnam Association of Ethnic Minorities’ Culture and Arts. He was a curator of the Danang Museum of Champa Sculpture, Danang, Vietnam where he worked from 1978 until 1998. During 1993-96, he won an award of The Toyota Foundation to conduct the fieldwork on Champa architectural sites in Central Vietnam; and in 2005-07 from the SEASREP Foundation for doing field research in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia and Indonesia on Mon-Dvaravati, Pre-Angkor Ruins and Javanese arts. He was visiting fellow at International Institute for Asian Studies in Leiden (1995); The Asia Society in New York (1996-97); and Asia Research Institute, NUS (10/2003-02/2004). He has published several books and articles in Vietnamese, English and Japanese, including: ‘Vestiges of Champa Civilization’, The Gioi Publishers, Hanoi 2004; ‘The wedding of Sita: a theme from the Ramayana represented on the Tra Kieu pedestal’, [Narrative Sculpture and Literary Traditions in South and Southeast Asia, edited by Marijke J. Klokke, Brill, Leiden 2000]; ‘Champa Iseki/ Champa Ruins’ (co-author with Shigeda Yutaka), Rangoo Shutsuhan, Tokyo 1997; Artifacts and Culture of Champa Kingdom, The Toyota Foundation, Tokyo 1994; Museum of Cham Sculpture in Danang, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Hanoi 1987.

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