Exploring the Charms of My Son

by - Tuesday, August 15, 2017

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The Chams were one of the earliest civilizations in Vietnam, branching out from the ancient Champa kingdom who had settled in this part of the Indochina region following their establishment.

The majestic kingdom of the Chams was formed back in the 192 AD, following the fall of the Han dynasty in China; from a population of seafarers who were the early settlers on the mainland of Southeast Asia, the land which they have found via Borneo from which they traversed. 
The Chams were also linked to the Sa Hyunh culture which existed during that time; believed to be the predecessor to their civilization.

The seafaring background and experiences are to account for their physical strength and aptitude in trading, for the Chams were strong warriors and also excellent traders; making them one of the strongest kingdoms and one that flourished with wealth from their trades.

The Champa Kingdom is known to the Han Chinese as Linyi (林邑); which is pronounced as Lam Ap in the Sino Vietnamese language.

Hinduism and Buddhism dominate the religious beliefs of the Chams; and much of that cultural influences can be seen on the remains of the ancient architecture left behind in the sites of which they had settled.

For more than ten centuries, the Chams' presence left quite an eminent legacy in Vietnam and there are many architectures remaining in the country to prove that.
Most of the remains of the Champa kingdom can be found throughout the country, especially in the central to southern part of Vietnam, and I have personally visited one in Mui Ne myself; the beautiful and awe-inspiring Poshanu Cham Towers (read about it here).

My Son (pronounced as Mi-Sohn) is a an hour's drive away from Hoi An; and while this ancient site was believed to be the capital of the Champa kingdom, it is actually more prominent as the religious, cultural and ceremonial site for the Cham rulers.

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Surrounded by mountains, the natural terrains and topography of the region made the site rather hidden thus creating a rather mysterious aura about it.
The mountainous range and the valley that runs through it made this a suitable site for burial s and My Son became the grounds where most of the royal families and the warriors of the Chams laid to their rest during their reign from the 4th to the 14th Century AD.

Originally a site of much greater magnificence with more than 70 structures erected here, it was rather unfortunate that most of them have been destroyed in the devastating Vietnam War, one that left unforgettable scars among the people besides crippling the entire nation, to the extent that they are still struggling to recover until this very day.

To date, there are only approximately 20 structures which remained on the site of My Son, with some of them merely resembling a pile of rocks.

The lackluster number of the remains did not affect the significance nor the splendor of the majestic former kingdom; and most of the structures which stayed intact are living testaments of that.

The influence of Hinduism is evident on the architectural styles and the stone carvings on the buildings, which are mostly of the Hindu gods and deities worshipped.
A deity of such prominence would be the Lord Shiva; believed to be the Supreme Being, being the creator, protector, transformer and the destroyer of the universe and of all beings and is one of the most important deities in the beliefs of Hinduism.

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There are also hints of Buddhism on the structural remains in My Son.

There are much of the Cham's history on the site of My Son; obviously from their rule of more than ten centuries on this very spot.
It takes historical insight and an eye of interest to be able to fully enjoy My Son beyond what meets the eye, though its visuals are already inspiring to begin with.

The buildings displayed the wits of the Chams back then; with the method of firing bricks incorporated into the construction, as seen on the seamless joining of the bricks and walls of the buildings themselves. The Chams were believed to use tree resins from those that were of the region's origins to seal the bricks together, rather than mortar, and their strength far surpassed that of modern methods judging from the way the bricks are still held together to this very day.

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There may only be a cluster of the remains from the ancient religious site left here, but just like other ancient sites I have been to, or that of similar origins such as the Poshanu Cham Towers, My Son is still and just as impressive in its own way.

My Son is also named a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999.

While many would compare it to Cambodia's Angkor Wat, Indonesia's BorobudurThailand's Ayutthaya or Myanmar's Bagan, to which My Son was said to pale in splendor, it is still not quite just to make of what My Son holds.

I, for one, would not make that comparison for each of the ancient/historical architectures hold their specialties on its own and there is really none that could be truly inferior.

It all comes down to the understanding of the history and the origins itself, which is where it all began; to the cultural influences and way of living.

Just like each and every one of us, we have our own stories, our own backgrounds and our own strengths and weaknesses; it is the same make of history and of these ancient sites as well.

My Son is not Angkor Wat nor is it Borobudur, but it is not any less spectacular, for My Son is just as distinguished as it is, in all its dignity and glory.

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I would not mind spending the whole day admiring these ancient remnants, listening to the stories they have, as the wind blows and the sun shines through; breathing that air of mystic  around the site; a site which holds the remains of the royals and great warriors of Champa, along with their beliefs, their lives and their stories which will live on, along with the great legacy of their magnificence.

The magnificence of the Champa Kingdom.

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*Author's Note: 
This is not a sponsored/promotional post, and solely based on author's personal opinions and do not represent the general public. 
Experiences vary from one individual to another.
You do not have to agree with me.

Art Direction and Photography Styling by Me.
Photos/Videos all belong to me and are copyrighted.
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