via the Freer | Sackler blog, 11 Sep 2019: Emma Natalya Stein, Freer|Sackler curatorial fellow for Southeast Asian art, shares scenes from her recent journey to Vietnam, featuring the My Son Sanctuary and the Chien Dan temple.
Throughout premodern Southeast Asia, mountaintop areas were selected for development of spacious temple complexes that attracted religious practitioners. Called rishis, meaning ascetics or sages, these practitioners sought to temporarily escape the trappings of daily life and concentrate on spirituality. The sites of the complexes were conducive to such focused efforts. They were positioned in relation to natural wonders—mountains, volcanos, waterfalls—that captured the senses and immersed the inhabitants into their surroundings.