Ever since i visited the Ho Chi Minh Museum and got bitten and smitten by the beauty of Cham art - the ruins of MySon ( in central vietnam) and the Danang Museum of Cham sculpture had steadily crept up to the top of the charts of my bucket list. The checkbox got ticked off recently and what a weekend it turned out to be.
Wanting to beat the heat and the tourists (!!) and hoping to catch the early rays of the Sun amidst the sacred valley of My Son - kept the alarm for 4.30 AM start ( stayed at Hoi An instead of Danang - which is closer to My Son) - Sadly being peak summer the sun was already up by the time we arrived at the beautifully manicured lawns of the newly opened site museum, just before the short drive up the hills. Vehicles are not allowed nearer to the ruins and a steady 5 min walk gets you the first look.
But you will have to wait a bit longer for a detailed post on MySon persay as i am still reading and classifying my images. However, as an interesting start I choose this fanstastic Tymphanum which sadly has been left on the floor of one of the standing towers of MySon - i think it will be moved shortly down to the site Museum. At first glance am not sure how many visitors would understand the panel ( no labels as well).
Yes, it is a very intricately carved Ravana Anugraha murthy - should be dated to the 10th C CE i think. Surprisingly there is not much literature available on this particular beauty. A chance search made available this reference though and what a reference it turned out to be
Champa and the Archaeology of Mỹ Sơn (Vietnam)
The label in the book reads as : Tympanum depicting Ravana shaking Mt. Kailash. Recovered at My Son. Present location unknown ( photograph Musee Guimet Archive, undated)
Thanks to our gifted artist Muralidharan - he agreed to sketch it for better study. Clearly the panel has suffered further damage with the lower torso of ravana completely damaged as it stands now !.
It is interesting to note that Ganesha is seen prominently along with Nandhi in the panel. Remember the one we discussed earlier from Cambodia also has Ganesha seated.
There are many unique things in this panel - one of course is the depiction of a Vimana / tower / temple - classically modeled. There is a large elephant below it and also what seems like a forest complete with animals inside caves.
The beauty of this panel is in the portryal of Ravana’s massive arms - interestingly they seem to be trying to juxtapose two different poses for his legs - thereby coming with three legs.
That Ravana is facing into the panel takes up the difficulty quotient and there is a tendency to compare it with the panel in Ellora
But the masterstroke here is how the sculptor has chosen to depict the heads of Ravana.
Is a stunning solution to a complex problem one which i feel even the master Pallava sculptors of Rajasimha Pallava could not conquer in the Mallai Olakkaneshwara Panel.
Hats off to the master sculptors of Cham for creating this dynamic beauty. Just as i was to complete the post, Murali sends across his completed sketch or should i say masterpiece ! Art lives on.