Charming Cham museum of Đà Nẵng

Day 22, Vietnam/Cambodia trip, Jan – March 2011
Day 20 – Đà Nẵng, Vietnam

Cham Museum
Location:       2 Duong 2 Thang 9
Hours:           7 am -5pm
Fee:              30,000 VND ~$1.50 USD
Landmark: The museum is just a skip and a hop from the main promenade by the river front.

The court yard of the museum – really nice colonial influenced and Champa design building

If you’re in Da Nang then I recommend you spare an hour at the Champa museum for a crash course on the Champa culture before your visit the Mỹ Sơn ruins. The collection was initiated by French  archeologists in the late nineteenth century, by collecting statues, friezes and altars from once magnificent Cham sites dotted around the hinterland of Da Nang. The museum was opened in 1916 and undoubtedly the most comprehensive display of Champa art in the world. Sadly, many of the best statues been known to carried off into European private collections.

I was still in our village the day before my visit to the Cham’s museum. I told my grandpa that day that I’m going to leave the village and head out to Da Nang for a change of scenery and check out the Champa museum. Amazingly, in his 90’s my grandpa still have a sense of humor and said: “there’s nothing but just a bunch of rocks”.

Rocks or no rocks, off I went out to get me some cultural insight. I just had enough with morphing around the village with nothing to entertain me. Besides, the mosquito were feasting on me so I just need a reason to evacuate. I actually pass by the Cham museum on a few occasions when cruising around town. But truth be told, folks on Lonely Planet said it’s a go and on top of it, literature about it were available in English so that wouldn’t hurt either.

I wished I had more time to linger and read about the artifacts on display had only I drop into the museum sooner. I came in about half an hour before closing so there’s only so much I can read or see. On top of that, my ride – cousin’s wife was waiting in the court yard. She didn’t wants to come in. I guess she probably visited it many times before when she has visitor in town.

Recurring images in Cham art are lions,

elephants and

Hindu deities, predominantly Shiva (founder and defender of Champa) expressed either as a vigorous, full-lipped man or as a lingam, but Vishnu, Garuda, Ganesha and Nandi the bull are also portrayed.

The most distinctive icon is Uroja, a breast and nipple that represents the universal “mother” of Cham kings.

Many have been rescued from sacred Champa’s burial ground.

There were many sculpture and artifacts to see, but too little time. Overall, it’s $1.50 well spent to me.

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