My Son, located
69 km southwest of Danang, was an imperial city during the Cham dynasty, between the 4th
and 12th centuries. My Son Sanctuary is a large complex of religious relics that comprises
more than 70 architectural works. They include temples and towers that connect to each
other with complicated red brick designs. The main component of the Cham architectural
design is the tower, built to reflect the divinity of the king.
According to records on the stone stele, the prime
foundation of the ancient My Son architectural complex was a wooden temple to worship the
Siva Bhadresvera genie. In the late 16th century, a big fire destroyed the temple.
Step by step, historical mysteries were unveiled by scientists. Through stone stele and
royal dynasties, they proved My Son to be the most important Holy Land of the Cham people
from the late 4th to the 15th centuries. For many centuries, the Cham built Lip, a
mutually linked architectural complex, with baked bricks and sandstone. The main temple
worships the Linga-Yoni, who represents the capability of invention. Beside the main tower
(Kalan) are several sub-towers worshipping Genies or deceased kings. Although time and the
wars have destroyed some towers, the remaining sculptural and architectural remnants still
reflect the style and history of the art of the Cham people. Their masterpieces mark a
glorious time for the architecture and culture of the Cham, as well as of Southeast
Each historical period has its own identity,
so that each temple worshipping a genie or a king of a different dynasty has its own
architectural style full of different impression. All of the Cham towers were built on a
quadrate foundations and each comprises three parts: a solid tower base, representing the
world of human beings, the mysterious and sacred tower body, representing the world of
spirits, and the tower top built in the shape of a man offering flowers and fruits or of
trees, birds, animals, etc., representing things that are close to the spirits and human
According to many researchers of the ancient Cham
towers, the architectural art of the Cham towers at My Son Sanctuary is the convergence of
different styles, including the continuity of the ancient style in the 7th-8th centuries,
the Hoa Lai style of the 8th-9th centuries, the Dong Duong style from the mid-9th century,
the My Son and My Son-Binh Dinh styles, etc. Among the remnants of many architectural
sites excavated in 1898, a 24 metres high tower was found in the Thap Chua area and
coded A I by archaeologists and researchers on My Son. This tower is a masterpiece of
ancient Cham architecture. It has two doors, one in the east and the other in the west.
The tower body is high and delicate with a system of paved pillars; six sub-towers
surround the tower. This two storey tower looks like a lotus flower. The top of the upper
layer is made of sandstone and carved with elephant and I ion designs. In the lower layer,
the walls are carved with fairies and water evils and men riding elephants. Unfortunately,
the tower was destroyed by US bombs in 1969.
After the My Son ancient tower complex was
discovered, many of its artifacts, especially statues of female dancers and genies
worshipped by the Cham people, worship animals and artifacts of the daily communal
activities, were collected and displayed at the Cham Architecture Museum in Danang city.
Although there are not many remnants left, those that remain display the typical
sculptural works of cultural value of the Cham nationality. Furthermore, they are vivid
proof, confirming the history of a nationality living within the Vietnamese community
boasting of a rich cultural tradition.