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Tourists in Cham towers’ dig yields valuable insights

Cham towers’ dig yields valuable insights

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Cham towers’ dig yields valuable insights
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Surprising new architectural features have been discovered during recent excavations of the ancient Duong Long tower complex in the southern province of Binh Dinh.
The towers, built by the end of the 12th century, are considered to be the highest Cham towers in Southeast Asia. The kingdom of Champa was an Indianised kingdom of Malayo-Polynesian origins and controlled what is now southern and central Viet Nam from approximately the 7th century through to 1832.
The excavation has been carried out by Binh Dinh Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Centre for Archaeology Research of the Institute for Southern Region Sustainable Development.
Most of the carved stones structures have collapsed and been buried for centuries.
This excavation revealed the base of the towers with 2.3m carved figures decorated with Kala snake faces, Naga snakes, women’s breasts, lotus petals and Garuda holy birds.
The foundation of the towers was found to have been built with seven layers of bricks and four layers of laterite. Archaeologists found traces of a brick wall 8m by 7m on the western side.
At the centre of the complex, there is a brick altar with an intricately carved square yoni sculpture. This is purportedly the first yoni to be found in this province, which persuaded them to believe that the tower complex was built as a temple for the God Shiva (one among the Hindu God trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva).
Thousands of sculptures have now been unearthed at the complex. The works feature images of gods in various gestures, as well as dancing figures, flowers, leaves, animals.
The most typical of which are decoration patterns of God Brahma, which has been found at the front of the north tower, and a collection of monk statues ranging in size from 0.6 to 1.2m. The monks are standing still, looking straight ahead with peaceful faces and their hands pressing together in prayer.
Dang Huu Tho, director of Binh Dinh Province’s Historic Sites Management Department, said the Duong Long tower complex has a typical type of Cham sculpture art, which was influenced much by the Khmer art of the Bayon and Angkor Wat time period.
The three towers are estimated to have ranged between 22 and 24m.
French scholar H. Parmentier was the first to start researching the complex in 1909; his works still serve as a useful reference for Vietnamese archaeologists.
There are 14 Cham towers total in the province, located within the Do Ban Citadel, an area roughly 15-20km in diameter covering areas in today’s districts of Tuy Phuoc, An Nhon, Tay Son and Quy Nhon city.
Doi towers were renovated at a cost of US$114,400 in 1991, Banh It towers at $137 in 2004. The Duong Long complex was excavated and upgraded the first time in 2006-07 and second time in 2008 at the total cost of $572. Canh Tien tower has been worked on since 2006 at total cost of $133. The latest work was sponsored by the German government and Binh Dinh Province.
There is high priority being placed on excavating and renovating all the towers, but Tho revealed various difficulties have been encountered.
"There is scarce material and images on the original towers, which create difficulties for consulting agencies in making upgrading plans," he said, "Some materials are not available in the locality; for example, blue stone should be taken from central province of Quang Nam," said Tho.

 

Source: VNS

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