Vibrant Vietnam - 2007

M USEUM OF C HAM S CULPTURE The real reason we were stopping in Da Nang at all was to visit the Museum of Cham Sculpture. The museum was an interesting building in itself as it was an open-air structure for the most part, with walls that did not reach the roof but allowed light and breeze to pass through the exhibition rooms.

The French had discovered My Son (one of the holy sites of the Cham peoples) and had brought out many statues, carvings, friezes, and ancient tools & implements from that “dig” between 1913 and 1935. Added to our reading, the trip to the museum made it clear to us that these early and powerful inhabitants of central Vietnam were Hindus, no doubt of Indian subcontinent origins. The gods and goddesses were familiar Hindu deities, Laxshmi, Ganesha, Shiva, the Nandi Bull, Vishnu and Brahma. The friezes featured Indian dancing girls and stories from the Hindu scriptures. Later, during our visit to Angkor Wat and its associated complexes, we would see that both the Angkorian and the Cham cultures were of Indian origin and were fighting for ascendancy during much of the same periods of history. Whereas the Thai incursions reached down into Cambodia and created an amalgam of Buddhist and Hindu influences, Buddhism does not show up in the Cham relics. The museum visit only complicated my thoughts about how closely North and

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