Cham Art and Sculpture



Cham Art and Sculpture

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The Cham Empire existed in Vietnam for around 1,600 years, from the 2nd century AD to its downfall in 1832. Today, a thriving Cham community survives, but all that remains of their ancient kingdom is its artistic legacy, which reached its zenith in the 8th to 10th centuries. Part of this heritage is architectural, visible in the red brick temples found scattered across Central Vietnam. Other elements are sculptural, carved chiefly in sandstone and marble or, more rarely, cast in bronze, and discovered at sites such as Tra Kieu, My Son, and Dong Duong. Religious in inspiration, Cham art derives from the Indic tradition and represents Hindu deities with their celestial mounts, dancing girls, and demons. This tradition is expressive and exudes a unique sensuality.

Dancing girl of Tra Kieu

The early 10th-century dancing apsara, or celestial nymph, from an altar pediment at Tra Kieu, outside Danang, is celebrated for her sensuality and grace. Close attention was paid to hairstyle, costume, and jewelry in Cham art.

The makara is a mythical sea creature from the Hindu pantheon. Cham art was inspired by Hinduism and many such Hindu sculptures decorate their temples.

Garuda is the eagle mount of the Hindu god, Vishnu. Cham sculptors used stone or terracotta to carve various Hindu mythical gods and animals.


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