Ancient Champa cultural vestiges in Marble Mountains
Update: Nov 28, 2022
Architect Henri Parmentier, who was the first to pay attention to the ancient Cham traces in Marble Mountains, was also the one credited with establishing the Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture. Therefore, this unique museum was once named after him in 1936.

The Cham stone pedestal was found during the repair of Tang Chon cave in the Marble Mountains.

On the archaeological map of Champa established in 1898 and published in 1908 - essentially a catalogue describing the works of Champa in Central Viet Nam, Henri Parmentier wrote "Tower of Marble Mountains". Moreover, numerous research results on the ancient Cham traces in the Marble Mountains were included in Albert Sallet's book, Les Montagnes des Marbre/Marble Mountains by Henri Parmentier.

In addition, ancient Cham traces in Marble Mountains was also investigated by archaeologists from the Department of History of Vietnam National University, Hanoi (VNU) led by Professor Tran Quoc Vuong in 2002 and the results of this survey were published detailedly in the book ‘New Findings of Archeology in 2000’.

It can be said that the ancient Cham vestiges in Marble Mountains have been known to posterity, first of all via survey and archaeological excavation activities, not only to continue searching for antique Cham marks in this region but also and more importantly, to find the answer to the long-standing question- where did the Champa people come from?

On the journey searching for ancient Cham marks Marble Mountains, our country's archaeologists also confirmed that there are only two archaeological sites having intact cultural layers in the Central region, and they are scarce in the study of the Pre-Sa Huynh period.

They are the archaeological site of Bau Tram I in Nui Thanh District, Quang Nam Province, and the archaeological site of Khue Bac communal house garden in Hoa Hai Ward, Ngu Hanh Son District. Thus, not only have been the traces of Champa inhabitants living two thousand years ago but also inhabitants' traces of Sa Huynh and Tien Sa Huynh from 3,000 to 3,500 years ago saved by the Marble Mountains.

The ancient Cham vestiges in Marble Mountains have also been known to posterity through sculptural artefacts preserved in caves, such as Tang Chon cave with a stone Linga-Yoni statue worshipped very solemnly, Huyen Khong cave having the statue of the goddess Po Inu Nagar with an Indian-style sitting position.

Researcher Vo Van Thang once said that it would be safer if the above-mentioned Cham sculpture artefacts were put on display or exhibition in the Museum of Cham Sculpture, because the material of sandstone, especially details on each pattern and line on statues or relieves, are very sensitive so that it is easily weathered and deformed when there is a significant impact from the outside.

However, the ancient Cham marks in Marble Mountains have continued to be accompanied by this mountain since each ancient Cham trace here seems to come not only from the art world but also and mainly from the divine world because when the ancient Cham artist created a statue or a relief made of sandstone, he definitely breathed his soul into the stone.

Therefore, perhaps it will be much more interesting to admire the Linga - Yoni statue in the dark Tang Chon cave or when looking at the relief with the image of a deity in the position of one leg bent, one leg stretched and two arms lifting an object forward as if making an offering to someone on the altar near the entrance to Huyen Khong cave.

On the journey of finding the ancient Cham traces in the mountains, it would be remiss not to mention the talented artisans of Non Nuoc stone carving village specializing in creating round statues and reliefs simulating Champa statues and reliefs. In particular, it is impossible not to mention the old artisan Le Ben and his family's the production and display facility with hundreds of Champa statues of all shapes and sizes. He is also a person who has contributed to preserving and promoting unique visual arts that have more or less faded over time.

Thus, it is possible to find ancient Cham marks in the ancient Champa statues restored or crafted in Non Nuoc stone carving village. The ancient Cham vestiges have still been preserved in many places across Da Nang, such as the ruins of Xuan Duong Tower in Xuan Duong Village, Lien Chieu District, Phong Le Tower’s ruins in Phong Le Village, Cam Le District, or Qua Giang Tower in Qua Giang Village, Hoa Vang District.

However, the ancient Cham traces in Marble Mountains have an advantage in being popular among tourists from all over the world as it is associated with a special national relic. At the same time, thanks to the association with the Marble Mountains Tourist Area, a special national-level relic site, the ancient Cham marks here also have better conditions for preservation.

Reporting by Bui Van Tieng - Translating by T.Vy

Da Nang Today - - November 27, 2022