The Museum of Cham Sculpture in Da Nang
With their roots dating back as far as 192 AD, Vietnam’s indigenous Cham people lived an Indian way of life in both culture and language. The Cham Museum in Danang is dedicated to this period and the Champa existence which began predominantly in the coastal areas of Vietnam. Housing the largest exhibition of Cham sculpture in the world, the museum displays almost 300 terracotta and stone works of art ranging from the 7th to the 15th centuries.
Many of the exhibits are considered masterpieces of their field showcased according to the region in which they were found with a total of ten separate interior exhibition rooms. All of the sculptures on display fall into one of the following sections – icon, pedestal, pediment, or fragment, with the area in which they were found determining where they are exhibited.
When you’ve finished browsing the internal creations, step outside to appreciate the building itself carefully crafted with objects of worship including idols and holy animals surrounded by flowers, leaves and turrets all symbols of Hinduism.
When visiting the Museum of Cham Sculpture in Danang, whether in the morning or in the afternoon, on rainy or sunny days, visitors still perceive an individual atmosphere particular to this place, the reverie of reminiscences. Built in July 1915 with the support of the Far-East Archaeological Research Institute in Hanoi, the Museum of Cham Sculpture now has nearly 2000 large and small sculptures. Of these, 288 are on display inside the museum, 187 objects in the garden and more than 1.200 objects are reserved in the storehouse. Most of the sculptures in the museum are original and mainly of three kinds of materials, including sandstone, terracotta and bronze. The majority of these sculptures from the 12th to the 15th century are made of sandstone with different art styles.
The sculptures displayed here almost have the same drifting life as the very destiny of the once-glorious culture that generated them. Through the ruins of time, war and even the oblivion, such original Champa sculptures were hardly collected and brought here by many human generations. And in this systematic collection, these works of the ancient Champa artists again have a new life.
Coming to visit the museum, it seems that we see again the glorious time of the past of a nation for whom both the passion for art and the creative talent were already at a very high level. The mysterious world of deities, the pictorial legends, the religious symbols, the curving lines of the bodies of dancing girls, the features of full swelling breasts, the smiles of a vague time… all of these are shown very lively and in much in details.
Despite profoundly influenced by the architecture and sculpture of the Indian civilization, the ancient Champa, nevertheless, has a vision of life and religion according to their own feeling. Such refraction brought to their world of art a really distinct beauty. It is spiritual though it is very close; it has unique though it is familiar. It is a subtle and distinctive beauty.