Posted on: April 2, 2022 Posted by: admin Comments: 0


On the way to establish a career, the Vietnamese bring to this land a valuable cultural and spiritual asset. In addition to the custom of worshiping ancestors, the Vietnamese here also follow Buddhism, Catholicism, and Protestantism.

Summary: Ninh Thuan is home to many ethnic groups such as Cham, Raglai, Kinh, Hoa, etc. Each ethnic group has its own cultural and religious nuances. During the process of coexistence, the ethnic groups here have cultural exchanges and acculturation. By the method of studying the imprint / remnant (Survival) of EB Tylor and the theory of cultural exchange and acculturation of American anthropologists [1,3,6], this article searches for imprints/remnants of Champa Buddhism through Buddhist temples in Ninh Thuan. Through a survey of 93 temples in Ninh Thuan, the research results show that some pagodas, especially Thien Lam Pagoda – the oldest temple in this land, still retain the imprint of Champa Buddhism on both architectural and architectural levels. Temple construction and sculpture (decoration, Buddha statue). This proves that, at the beginning in the process of expanding the territory to the South, when stopping in Ninh Thuan, the Vietnamese did not live in isolation but always opened, exchanged and absorbed the culture of the indigenous peoples. On that basis, it has been modified into a cultural heritage with both its own and common identity.

1. The old Thien Lam Pagoda (Dac Nhon, Nhon Son, Ninh Son, Ninh Thuan). (VM photo taken in December 1998)

1. INTRODUCTION

Ninh Thuan province has a population of about 590,467 people (statistics 2019), where many ethnic groups live such as Kinh, Cham, Raglai, Churu, K’ho, Hoa, Nung… Kinh) accounts for the largest population, about 432,399 people (about 73%) and plays a central role in exchanges and socio-economic development.

The Vietnamese community was formed in Ninh Thuan due to many waves of migration from abroad in the early years of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and formed on the basis of the Cham culture – indigenous culture. On the way to establish a career, the Vietnamese bring to this land a valuable cultural and spiritual asset. In addition to the custom of worshiping ancestors, the Vietnamese here also follow Buddhism, Catholicism, and Protestantism. As for Buddhism, according to statistics in Ninh Thuan, there are about 100 large and small temples, built in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In which, Thien Lam Pagoda is the oldest temple in Ninh Thuan [5,11]. Currently, although Thien Lam Pagoda has been renovated and rebuilt, but based on the documents, surveys and collected in the field from before 2000, we find that the old Thien Lam Pagoda has many Champa Buddhism imprints on both architectural aspects (styles, designs, construction materials) and sculptures (decorative patterns, all kinds of worshiping statues)…

2. Thien Lam Pagoda today (Dac Nhon, Nhon Son, Ninh Son, Ninh Thuan) (VM image collected from the internet)

2. Thien Lam Pagoda today (Dac Nhon, Nhon Son, Ninh Son, Ninh Thuan) (VM image collected from the internet)

Within the scope of this article, we are only looking for Champa Buddhism imprints in the field of architecture and sculpture, so we do not write the history and describe all parts of Thien Lam temple.

2. ABOUT THE ARCHITECTURE OF THE HOUSE

The pagoda, also known as Thien Lam Communal House, is located at the beginning of Dac Nhon village (customized as Long Thu or Ma Nuong) in Nhon Son commune, Ninh Son district, Ninh Thuan province, about Phan Rang – Thap Cham city center 40km to the west. According to legend, the pagoda was built by the Most Venerable Thich Thieu Lieu Minh during the reign of King Le Chieu Thong in the 3rd year – Ky Dau (1789). [11]. Currently, this pagoda also has a bronze bell with a diameter of 0.4m with embossed Chinese characters: “Thien Lam abbot Lieu Minh, brand name Duc Tang” and a line of Chinese characters: “Building in the year of the Dragon”. In addition to building this pagoda, Mr. Duc Tang also built Dac Nhon communal house to worship King Lac [9]*.

The above Thien Lam pagoda was built according to the word-word model and has similarities with the layout of houses in the campus of traditional Cham houses.

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Within the premises of Thien Lam Pagoda, there is a housing complex behind the main hall, including: Ancestral Church; There are East and West houses on both sides, the campus of traditional Cham houses also has similar layouts including: Horizontal house (sang gar); The east side has a customary house (sang ye) and the west side has a kitchen (sang ging). The two complexes of pagodas and traditional Cham houses are similar in layout, such as: trusses, house direction, door direction and living space; The only difference is that the temple has a front hall (main hall) – a place to worship Buddha.

If the terrain selection of land at Thien Lam – Dac Nhon pagoda is associated with charming mountains, formed by Nga Son mountain to the west of the pagoda and Dinh river to the southwest (about 100m away from the temple), how to choose this land? coincides with the geographical thinking of the Cham. When choosing land, the Cham people believe that “Glaong pai bien pur” means that the land in the northwest must be high and the southwest must be low or low to be good. Starting from the way of choosing the land above, there is a rectangle between the temple grounds and the traditional houses of the Cham people, and the intersection point between the two rectangular diagonals is “The heart of the earth”, the Cham people call it “Madin”. ” (fire point), and Thien Lam pagoda called “Sand yard”. On the other hand, these two campuses also have a well in the north and a gateway in the south that is very similar. According to recorded documents, at first, both the pagoda and the communal house in Dak Nhon were built facing the east like the main doors of the Cham tower. Later, in the Tay Son period, the pagoda was restored, built with bricks, roof tiled, the main door changed to open in the south (see photo 1). [5].

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3. sculpting, decoration, idol

Besides architecture, Thien Lam Pagoda also has sculptures, decorative patterns and statues of Buddha with its own imprint. Here, it can be seen that Thien Lam Pagoda is different from other Vietnamese pagodas in Ninh Thuan, such as the decoration of two dragons adoring the moon on the roof of the old pagoda. This image of a two-dragon is not like the image of a two-dragon adoring the moon in some other pagodas, but rather resembles a clawed bird, a mandarin bird decorated in a Cham funeral with meandering curves, broken rhythms, reverse bend. The decorative dragon on the roof of Thien Lam Pagoda also bears the image of a Naga snake head in Champa sculpture. Besides the Cham element, the dragon at Thien Lam Pagoda also carries a pattern of clouds, “dragon dance” in the dynamic, which is also a characteristic of Vietnamese dragons. In general, the image of the two dragons at Thien Lam Pagoda is a harmonious combination between Champa and Vietnamese arts.

In Thien Lam pagoda, the most unique is still the system of worshiping statues. In addition to the statue of Shakyamuni Buddha – a newly cast statue worshiped in the main hall, in the temple today, there are still ancient statues of Amitabha and Quan Am Buddha bearing the imprint of Champa Buddhism. As follows:

Amitabha Buddha: The Buddha statue is 0.43m in size, made of bronze, the head of the statue is a bit big compared to the body, the hair is spiral (shaped like a duckweed). This is the traditional hair of the Indian Buddha. The statue’s big eyes are slightly closed, the eyebrows do not intersect, the salty mold is a bit heavy due to the round chin, gourd and wide cheeks. The face reveals the Vietnamese Buddhist humanity. In particular, this statue has a slightly different shirt. The statue has a shirt covering the shoulders with a neckline and large arc-shaped pleats, the edges of the sides have stripes, spreading out in a gentle natural twist. The dress in the “antaravasaka” is longer, also with a curved hem at the legs. This is a type of shirt with folds popular in Champa Buddhism. This Buddha statue is in a standing position, the left palm has a pearl, the right hand is dropped in the direction of the right foot, the hand is spread out and the finger is facing forward. The statue is in a standing meditation position, ready to save sentient beings. The statue of Amitabha is in Vietnamese-Nguyen style, possibly carved in the nineteenth century (see photo 3).

Guan Yin Buddha: 0.19m high statue, made of bronze; The head of the statue has a bun with a scarf covering its head, extending to the shoulders. In the center of the scarf, in front of the sign “Hue eye” (urna), the eyes are slightly closed, the eyebrows do not meet. A face similar to that described by Amitabha Buddha is a round chin, gourd and puffy cheeks, but smiling lips – a smile that transcends melancholy. The sitting statue wears a shirt that covers both shoulders, the shirt is folded to reveal many contours, soft curves and spreads ending at the sleeves. The skirt has more pronounced pleats that cover the bottom, exposing only the feet. This is the type of dress often seen in Dong Duong Champa Buddhism. This statue sits in the style of “Padmasana” (sitting lotus or lotus position); legs crossed, left foot close to the sole of the right foot and let it rest on the right thigh, right leg to rest on the left thigh and back up similarly. The hands are clasped together in the “dyana mudra” (settlement); two hands placed on the legs close together, palms facing up, fingers folded upwards, two fingertips touching each other. The statue is sitting in a meditative posture (see photo 4).

5. The statue of Buddha Shakyamuni (front) has a lotus leaf-shaped bib decorated in front of the chest, and the back of the statue resembles the costume of kings and Acar monks of the Cham people.  The statue is kept at My Thien pagoda - My Hai - Ninh Thuan.  (VM image. December 1998)

5. The statue of Buddha Shakyamuni (front) has a lotus leaf-shaped bib decorated in front of the chest, and the back of the statue resembles the costume of kings and Acar monks of the Cham people. The statue is kept at My Thien pagoda – My Hai – Ninh Thuan. (VM image. December 1998)

In general, both Amitabha and Quan Am Buddha statues at Thien Lam Pagoda are a combination of the two spirits of Champa and Vietnamese Buddhism. In which, the Champa factor is dominant. In particular, the statue of Amitabha Buddha is a popular statue of Champa Buddhism but rarely seen in Vietnamese Buddha statues. Both the Buddha Amitabha and Guan Yin can be guessed were carved in the XVIII-XIX centuries.

In addition to the Buddha statue in Thien Lam pagoda, some Buddha statues bearing Cham – Vietnamese imprints are also found in some temples in Ninh Thuan such as: Buddha statue in My Hai temple and Dieu An pagoda in Phan Rang – Ninh Thuan.

Shakyamuni Buddha statue at My Hai pagoda: The pagoda still retains a 0.24m high bronze statue of Champa Buddha. The statue sits on a pedestal with a trapezoidal cross section decorated with slightly curved edges. The statue has a bead-shaped bun around the head and on the forehead, and the head is covered with a pointed conical hat – the type of hat commonly seen in Indian Buddhism. The statue’s face is full, the eyes are slightly closed, the eyebrows are thick, the nose is rough, the mouth is wide, and the lips are thick and contoured, clearly showing the characteristics of the Cham race. Body slim, solid. On the necklace there is a robe in the shape of Bodhi leaves extending to the chest and back, covering the shoulders. The statue also wears a bib decorated with four-petaled patterns on the chest and navel….

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