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Museum of Cham Sculpture, Da Nang, Vietnam

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AsiaDa NangMuseumsRuinsViet Nam
Article author: michael
michael
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Cover Image for Museum of Cham Sculpture, Da Nang, Vietnam

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In 2019, when I was last in Da Nang, I visited the Da Nang Museum, which focuses on the history of Da Nang. While I did find it interesting, it wasn’t my favourite of the museums I had seen while in Vietnam back them.

This time around, we were back in Da Nang for a longer stretch, and we wanted to see if there were other museums in the city. One of the museums that I had heard about, but didn’t get a chance to visit last time, was the Museum of Cham Sculpture.

Museum of Cham Sculpture Info

  • Address: Số 02 Đ. 2 Tháng 9, Bình Hiên, Hải Châu, Đà Nẵng
  • Hours: Daily, from 07:30 to 17:00
  • Time needed to visit: 1 to 2 hours
  • Entrance fee: paid on-site
    • 60,000 VND per adult
    • 10,000 VND per student

      Note: No age range is specified, so you may need to confirm on-site what they consider a student

  • Official website: chammuseum.vn

    Note: The website appears to be partly unfinished, and some sections are available only in Vietnamese

The Museum of Cham Sculpture

The Museum of Cham Sculpture is a small museum in Da Nang, Vietnam, housing the world’s largest collection of Cham sculptures and artwork. The pieces were collected from various locations across Central Vietnam over several decades, starting in the early 1900’s.

The museum’s pieces are spread over 2 floors, however there are actually 3 floors - the main floor, a basement level, and a 2nd floor. When we visited, a part of the 2nd floor was closed for renovations, and the open sections only housed photos of the construction of the museum, which didn’t appeal much to us. So the artifacts we saw were spread across the main floor and the basement.

An interesting tidbit is that the museum itself was actually designed in Cham architectural style, taking elements from Cham architecture over the centuries.

Audio Guide

I couldn’t tell from the website if guided tours are available, however when we were there there was a couple who appeared to have a private guide.

That said, there is an audio guide mobile app that you can access on-site, no installation needed. The audio guide is available in English, French, and Vietnamese.

Audio Guide Code

You just need to connect to the museum’s wifi, scan the QR code available on the sign hanging near the entrance or go to https://chamaudio.com (only accessible via the museum’s wifi), select your language, and you’re good to go.

The Exhibits

I didn’t really take note of the names of most of the sections, as I was more interested in just admiring the actual pieces, but from what I gather from the museum’s website, the exhibits are organized by the different regions where the pieces were found.

Those regions being: Bình Định, Đà Nẵng, Đồng Dương, Mỹ Sơn, Tháp Mẫm, Trà Kiệu, Quảng Bình, Quảng Nam, and Quảng Ngãi.

And then a final section, in the basement area, which is the Gallery of Inscriptions.

The Artifacts

One thing that I noticed almost immediately, was the sexual nature of some of the sculptures. Notably, a focus on breasts and penises.

The Artifacts

The Artifacts

I could swear I read previously about the Cham people putting a lot of focus on fertility, and that this was reflected in their art, but I can’t seem to find any info on that now. So I’m not sure if I’m just remembering incorrectly, or if I’m just not looking in the right places.

The Artifacts

The Artifacts

These were mostly just in the 1st sections we visited, and so were possibly related to the particular region and time period that those pieces were from.


The following piece, from the My Son region, was one of my favourites. What a gorgeous relic! Based on the museum’s info, it was used as an altar, and is from somewhere between the 7th and 8th centuries.

At the front, there are simulated steps, on which you can see images of 6 dancers, performing an offer of scarves to the gods.

The Artifacts

Mỹ Sơn was once an important religious center of the Champa kingdom, located in present-day Quảng Nam province, about 30km west of Trà Kiệu relic - one of the former capitals of Champa. In the solemn space of a valley surrounded by small mountains, there are over 70 towers here, most of which were built to worship the god Siva.
chammuseum.vn

The piece in the pics below, from the Tra Kieu region, was also used as an altar. This one also dates from between the 7th and 8th centuries, and was another one of my favourites, due to the incredible details around the 4 sides.

According to Tran Ky Phuong, a researcher, the scenes carved along the sides are excerpts from the Ramayana epic. It depicts the story of Prince Rama, who was the only prince able to draw the bow of the storm god Rudra, and the ensuing marriage of Rama and Sita, the King’s daughter.

The Artifacts

The Artifacts

I say that the above two altars were some of my favs, but really, there were so many gorgeous sculptures, that it’s really hard to pick absolute favourites!

The Artifacts

The Artifacts

The Artifacts

The Artifacts

After making our way through the regions on the main floor, we headed down to the basement level, where many beautiful sculptures of mythical creatures were on display.

The Artifacts

The Artifacts

The dragon below, from the Thap Mam section, appears to be from the 12th century. The amount of detail is incredible!

The Artifacts

The Artifacts

Dragons in Cham sculpture are often shown very funny, which is a combination of many different animals. The head looks like the sea monster Makara, the body and legs look like a lion and the tail looks like a crocodile’s tail. The dragon is in a lying position, with its front legs facing forward and its hind legs pointing upwards, creating a very strange appearance.
chammuseum.vn

Museum Verdict

While parts of the museum, mainly on the 1st floor, are in disrepair and could use some repair work, the artifacts are in very good condition, and are really quite beautiful.

Entrance is also really cheap, at around only $3 USD per person, so it’s a good and cheap way to spend an hour or two learning about some of Vietnam’s incredible history. And after you’re done, you can easily head over to the famous Dragon Bridge, which is basically right around the corner!

So if you’re in Vietnam and into history and/or art, I highly recommend checking out the Museum of Cham Sculpture in Da Nang.

Other Places to see Cham Relics

There are also other museums that house collections of Cham art, including the Guimet Museum in Paris, the Museum of Vietnamese History in Saigon, and the Museum of History in Hanoi.

Or alternatively, if you’d prefer to experience some Cham architecture, I highly recommend checking out the Po Nagar Cham Temple Ruins in Nha Trang, which is still an active place of worship and absolutely stunning.

Until next time,
michael 😀

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