My Son Sanctuary is set in a small valley belonging
to Duy Phu Commune, Duy Xuyen District, Quang Nam Province, about 70km
southwest of Danang City and 40km from Hoi An City. Of the 225 Cham
vestiges that are founded in Vietnam, My Son possesses 71 monuments and
32 epitaphs, the content of which is still being studied.
The Cham Kingdom had two sanctuaries belonging to two
main opposing clans. My Son of the Dua Clan, ruled over the north of
the kingdom and was the place for the worship of God Srisana
Bhadresvara. The Cau Clan, who reigned over the south had Po Nagar
Sanctuary, dedicated to Goddess Po Nagar. Nevertheless, My Son was
considered as the sanctuary of the Cham Kingdom.
The first constructions date back to the 4th
century under the reign of Bhadravarman for the worship of God
Shiva-Bhadresvara. But later on, the temple was destroyed. At the
beginning of the 7th century, King Sambhuvarman had it
rebuilt and rebaptized Sambhu-Bhadresvara. Each new monarch came to My
Son after his accession to the throne, for the ceremony of purification
and to present offerings and erect new monuments, which explains why My
Son is the only place where Cham art flourished without interruption
from the 7th to the 13th century.
Architecture in My Son
The temples in My Son were built into groups that
basically followed the same model. Each group was comprised of a main
sanctuary (kalan), surrounded by towers and auxiliary monuments.
The kalan, which is a symbol of Meru Mountain (centre of the universe,
where the gods live) is dedicated to Shiva. The small temples are
devoted to the spirits of the eight compass points. In the towers,
topped with tiled, curved roofs, were stocked the offerings and sacred
objects of the pilgrims. Cham temples do not have windows, so they are
very dark inside. Windows are only found on the towers.
Cham towers and temples are built of bricks
associated with sandstone decorations. It is quite noteworthy that no
adhesive can be seen in between the bricks, which is amazing since some
of the works have survived thousands of years. The structures were
built, and only then did the sculptors carve the decorations of floral
patterns, human figures or animals. This technique is unique in Asia.