Lý Ceramics

Although Vietnamese art has a storied history which dates back past 5000 BCE, contemporary perceptions of the nation’s artistic productions are often associated with the extensive period of Chinese rule following the military conquest of 赵佗 Zhao Tuo in 207 BCE.

Wikipedia Commons. Online.

Wikipedia Commons. Online.

After being absorbed into the Chinese empire in 111 BC, Vietnam remained under the Middle Kingdom’s rule for over a thousand years. Chinese rule influenced the culture greatly, triggering changes in language, aesthetics and agriculture.

The Lý Dynasty (980-1225 CE) marks the first period of sustained autonomous Vietnamese rule and is characterized by a rigid militaristic social order and the institution of the civil service examinations.

At the time, life, art and politics were predicated on the confluence of Mahayana Buddhist traditions and Confucian and Daoist values. With the formation of a new state and a burgeoning national identity, the Lý Dynasty has earned the status of being Vietnam’s golden age of art. Incorporating more classically-established techniques, such as the Vietnamese “three colors” motif, alongside foreign-introduced styles that developed into unique ceramic forms represented below:

Naturalistic tropes can be seen within much of Lý Dynasty ceramics.  In the pieces depicted here, the usage of flora and fauna exhibit influence from China: dragons, Bodhi trees, and phoenixes.  Prior to the Lý, ceramics were, in large part, produced solely for their utility.

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My Son Sanctuary

A Site Plan of My Son

A Site Plan of My Son

The My Son Sanctuary is a remarkable architectural site, containing the remains of a series of impressive tower temples and providing an important glimpse into the spiritual and political life of the ancient Champa Kingdom of Southeast Asia.

The tower temples developed during the 4th to 13th centuries CE in the mountainous border Duy Xuyen District of Quang Nam Province in Central Vietnam. Situated in a small valley and surrounded by a ring of mountains, My Son Sanctuary is a sacred site of the ancient kingdom of Champapura, whose unique culture on the coast of contemporary Vietnam owed much of its spiritual origins to the Hinduism of India. The surviving structures at My Son Sanctuary were built during the 10th to 14th centuries CE.

The predominant style of the architecture and decoration of the My Son Sanctuary derives from India and is an excellent example of cultural interchange. The technological sophistication of Cham engineering skills is apparent by the fired brick and stone pillar construction of the tower temples, and the decorative sandstone bas-reliefs depicting scenes from Hindu mythology give evidence to the elaborate iconography and symbolism of the site.

Eight groups of 71 standing monuments exist within the My Son Sanctuary. The tower temple (kalan) symbolizes the greatness of Mount Meru, the mythical sacred mountain home of the Hindu gods. Each tower consists of a rectangular base (bhurloka), representing the human world, with the main tower (bhuvakola) rising above it.