A rare look at Vietnam’s ancient Champa Kingdom

By Vo Thanh   November 24, 2016 | 02:09 am PT
Relics dating back to the 7th century are on display after seventy years in obscurity.

Vietnam’s central region, once a part of the ancient Kingdom of Champa, which stretched from Vietnam’s central coast into modern day Cambodia and Laos, is home to ancient ruins dating back thousands of years which remain largely off of the tourist trail.  

The Hue Relics Conservation Center, part of the Hue Museum of Royal Antiquities, was founded in December 1927 and open to the public a year later. However, many of the ancient artifacts have been hidden from the public eye since 1945. After more than seven decades in obscurity, remnants of the Cham dynasty dating back to the 7th century are now on display.


The collection features more than 30 artifacts reportedly discovered in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue and nearby regions by researchers from the French School of the Far East.


Most of the Champa sculptures are made of sandstone. The Cham Balamon people believed that elephants symbolized royalty and power. Elephant sculptures also reveal something of the life of the historical Cham people. From written sources we know that the Cham relied on elephants for military and other purposes.


The statue of Agni – the Vedic fire god of Hinduism  was excavated in Binh Tri Thien. Agni also refers to one of the guardian deities of direction, and is typically found in southeast corners of Hindu temples.


This 12th-century leonine atlas is of the Thap Mam style of the 11th through the 14th centuries. It is the symbol of Visnu - one of the principal deities of Hinduism and the guardian of the King.


Although the Cham monuments at Tra Kieu in Quang Nam Province have been destroyed, a number of magnificent sculptures from the 10th century associated with the site remain preserved in museums.


This 7th-century monkey statue is regarded as a symbol of bravery.


This late 14th-15th-century sculpture depicts the god Shiva holding a string of beads.


A Balamon male deity was excavated in Huong Tra District, Thua Thien – Hue Province.


A 10th-century sandstone statue.


A 12th-century Kinnara statue; half-human, half-bird. He was often paired with Kinnari, a symbol of feminine beauty and accomplishment, skilled in poetry, song and dance.


This 10th-century Makara statue symbolizes water.


The exhibition is now open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

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