development of Cham art from its early history to the downfall of
the kingdom is classified according to a chronology. Described below
are the major periods of Cham art that are grouped more or less
to the main events in its history.
GLASS EARING FROM SA HUYNH CULTURE
Period (Mid 7th - Mid 9th Century)
The most characteristic of the early Cham art is the collection
of sculptures from My Son (outside of Da Nang), the most venerated
temples in ancient Champa. This group of sculptures marked the
golden age for Cham culture, even if this culture was influenced
by pre-Angkorian Khmer art. A century later, when the leadership
of Champa passed to the southern provinces, artistic activity
seems to have declined. It was at about this time that the Indonesian
attacked on the peninsula stimulated the growth of Buddhism in
Champa and revitalized its iconography.
Period of Indrapura (Mid 9th to End of 10th Century)
Around the year 850, power once again passed to the northern provinces
and for a century and a half Indrapuri (Dong Duong in present
Quang Nam province) was the capital of the Cham kingdom. Though
typified by two quite opposite tendencies, the period was one
of intense artistic activity. As early as 875, the founding of
the great Mahayana (Dai Thua) Bhuddist complex at Dong
Duong led to the embellishment of a vigorous style that was
much more concerned with grandeur than with human beauty, and
yet welded together with a surprising degree of originality the
most varied borrowings from Indonesia and China. A quarter of
a century later, with the decline of Buddhism, sculpture became
progressively more humane and decoration more delicate (Khuong
My). When, towards the middle of the 10th century, architecture
achieved a classical balance (My Son, group A), sculpture moved
into its second golden age with the style of My Son A1 and Tra
Kieu which shows a strong Indonesian influence. By the end of
the 10th century, when the kingdom engaged in hostilities with
a now independent Viet Nam, its art had already lost many of its
finest qualities, especially with regard to the rendering of the
Period of Vijaya (11th to End of 15th Century)
As result of attacks by Vietnamese
forces, Indrapura, which lay to far to the north, was evacuated
in favor of Vijaya (Cha Ban in the present Qui Nhon city), a capital
further to the south. Even though the kingdom was threatened from
all sides, Vijaya was to witness much artistic activity during
the 11th and 12th centuries. Growing tension between Khmer (Cambodia)
and Champa led to the introduction of some new borrowings from the Khmer art; however the worsening of political relations
culminated in the occupation of Champa by forces from Angkor (1181
to 1220). All Cham artistic activity ceased, and the kingdom was
to emerge much the poorer from the experience. Once set in motion,
the decline was accelerated by the invincible onslaught of Viet
Nam, and then, at the end of 13th century, by the Mongol threat.
The few buildings erected in the 15th century in the less harassed
regions are of heavier proportions and became progressively less
and less ornamented (Po Klong Garai).
Period (After 1471)
This period began with the capture of Champa's capital of Vijaya
by the Vietnamese. Po Ro Me temple, probably built in the 16th
century, was the last sanctuary of the traditional type. Those
that followed it (the bumongs of hybrid construction) were to
be influenced by Vietnamese architecture. Religious images became
mere steles (kut) which are characterized by the progressive effacement
of the human physiognomy, until only attributes of rank (especially head-dresses) remains as a reminder of
them. Yet although these sculptures reveal a continuos decline,
they do manage to retain something of the profound originality
that is the only truly constant feature of the art of Champa.
HEAD-DRESSES - SARO KINRANG
1ST ROW. PAPAH-KAP
3RD ROW. PAPAH KAP-PASEH, KINROM, KIWANG
APSARA DANCER, SANDSTONE PEDESTAL FROM TRA KIEU, ERALY 10TH CENTURY
Cham sculpture, unlike the architecture that is conservative in
its design and methods, is marked by continual changes, reflecting
new influences rather than a natural evolution. Although it can
not be denied that there were occasions when Cham art reached heights
of pure, classical beauty (such as the My Son and Tra Kieu temples), sculptures for
the most part to have expressed contradictory tendencies: conventionality
and innovation, a lack of decorative details and an excess of it,
both realism and fantasy. There is more and more an aversion to
sculpture in the round until, finally, carving in high relief became
the only means of expression, and a certain disregard for natural
poses resulted in a loss of balanced proportions. It should be stressed
that, in view of the constant and profound changes in Cham art,
it is the study of costume, hairstyle, and above all, personal ornaments
that give the most reliable stylistic evidence for dating sculpture.
spite of the fact that sufficient examples of bronzes and terra
cotta have survived to demonstrate that these two techniques were
important at all times, too many have been destroyed for us to
be able to trace their development satisfactorily. Some detachable
ornaments from idols (head-dresses, bracelets,
necklaces, etc.) of chased gold or silver
dating from the end of the 9th century or the beginning of the
10th have been found. The only other known ornaments (the regalia
of Cham kings) are not earlier than the 17th century. The visual
evidence relating to personal ornaments in the intervening period
is limited to that provided by sculpture.
ROYAL TIARA, GOLD, 17TH CENTURY
had profound influence on the ancient art of Champa and inspired
many sculptures that decorate the Cham's temples and towers. These
statues and bas-reliefs were carved from stone or made of terra-cotta
after figures of god and mythical animals from the Brahman religion.
The three divinities worshipped by the ancient Cham people are:
is the Creator who is continuing to create new realities. Brahma
has four arms and four faces (represent East, West, North and
South). His wife is Saravasti. Brahma is usually displayed riding
on the sacred goose of Hamsa.
the Destroyer, is at times compassionate, erotic and destructive.
He symbolizes all the violence and forces in the universe. Shiva
has a third eye in his forehead. and can have many arms and faces.
Shiva has many wives, among them Parvatti, the goddess of Earth,
Uma, the goddess of grace and Durga, the goddess-combatant. Shiva
is sometimes displayed riding the sacred bull of Nandin Vishnu,
the Preserver who preserves these new creations.
has one face and four arms, each arm holds a disc, a horn, a ball
and a club. His wife is Laksmi, the goddess of beauty. Vishnu
is usually displayed riding Garuda, the mythical creature of half-human
and half bird.
religious figures found on the ancient Cham sculptures are Ganesa-the
god of intelligence, Indra-the god of the rain, Kama-the god of
love, apsara-the celestial dancers and naga-the multiple-head
serpent, the founder of the dynasty.