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.
Over time, the My Son Sanctuary has acquired an ancient, mysterious beauty, attracting many domestic and foreign tourists.
The My Son Sanctuary is located in Duy Phu commune, Duy Xuyen district, of Quang Nam province, central Vietnam. It is 70 km from Da Nang City and 40 km from Hoi An. This is a Hindu holy place of the ancient Kingdom of Champa.
According to traditional rituals, whenever a king came to the throne, they had to go to My Son Holy to make rites, offer gifts and build temples.
This area was discovered in 1885 by a group of French soldiers. Ten years later (1895), archaeologist Camille Paris made the first exploration. Since then until 1904, many researchers and archaeologists have visited here to reveal the secrets, including Louis Finot, Henri Parmentier and others.
My Son Sanctuary is located in a valley of about 2 km in diameter, surrounded by hills and mountains. It consists of 70 towers, which are divided into several clusters and built according to the same principle.
Finally, I’m back! I’ll write a short post later about what I’ve been up to in the field (unless you’re my facebook friend already and seen all the pictures already!). After about six weeks away from the blog, I’ve been spending the last week just processing and backing up the data from my trip and sifting through the news feeds for stories I’ve missed. Here’s a roundup of stories for the time while I was away:
Borneo Post, 06 June 2012: The Ministry of Information and Culture announces their intention to rewrite the Sejarah Melayu (The Malay Annals or Geneaology of Malay Kings) into modern prose for increased accessibility
Myanmar Times, 30 April – 6 May 2012: Three Pyu sites will be proposed for inclusion into the World Heritage List by the Ministry of Information and Culture.
The Straits Times (via Jakarta Globe), 24 May 2012: A feature on historian Thant Myint U and the Rangoon Heritage Trust.
Myanmar Times, 04-10 June 2012: A recent conference on conservation strategy stressed the need for a conservation plan for the colonial-era buildings of Yangon.
In the last 12 years visitors to the My Son Sanctuary have increased tenfold, adding a tremendous strain from the increased tourist numbers. The pressure is compounded by the fact that most tourists only visit the site in the morning, concentrating the rate of deterioration. I visited the My Son Sanctuary last year, and you can read about it here.
Last week, Apple announced a revamped iBooks and iTunes U service aimed at bringing textbooks and course materials to the iPad. There’s a fair buzz in the education circles, but how much content is there relating to the archaeology of Southeast Asia?
One of the more established tourist attractions in Da Nang is the Museum of Cham Sculpture at the corner of Trung Nu Vuong and 2 Thang 9 Streets. Almost a hundred years old, it houses a large sculpture collection from the Champa sites in the region (those that haven’t been looted or on display at some other faraway museum, that is).