The never-ending adventures of a travel writer in Vietnam, Cambodia, New Zealand and throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Quang Ngai Khanh Van Cham Tower Destroyed?

Reprinting this article here as its gone out of print and I don't want it to be lost. Sad testimony of the state of preservation of historical and archaeological monuments in Vietnam, particularly of the Cham people:


Quang Ngai: Khanh Van Tower may fall
15:56' 10/06/2005 (GMT+7)
Khanh Van tower in Quang Ngai Province is in danger of collapse as workers are taking its foundation soils to fill in reclaimed land for Tinh Phong industrial zone.

Tam Son hill in its current state.
There are 35 relics related to Cham culture in Quang Ngai, among these are 10 deserted and abandoned antique towers. The Khanh Van tower on Tam Son hill, Tinh Tho commune, Son Tinh District is the most intact in its foundation architecture.

In August 1998, archeologists excavated Khanh Van. Technical specifications from the base of the tower, as well as several other findings helped identify that the tower was built in the XI century and ruined by the XVI century.

The foundation is 2m high, each side is 10m, each corner is L shaped 3m each side, 4 ornamental supports, sculpture of leaf and carving of a hermit, the vignette was made refined in the form of saw tooth. The height of the tower is 20m, approximately the height of My Son A1 – a masterpiece of the Cham in drawing and architecture.

The archeologists also discovered a stone altar 1.4m in length, 42cm in width, 34cm in height, with a lot of carvings and engraved pictures.

Recently, when UNESCO proposed the cultural conservation agency to recommend two Cham relics in Quang Ngai, the cultural conservationists started checking the status of Khanh van tower - one of the two top recommended sites. This was when they discovered that one third of the hill had disappeared.

According to Mr. Le Thanh Ha the party secretary of Tinh Tho commune where the historic site is located “…the commune has never received any document to say that Khanh Van was a cultural relic.

So, this mount has long been used to provide earth for construction schemes in the commune and around the district. Recently, the people from Quang Ngai Museum came up and we were informed that the mount is a relic that must be protected.”

The foundations of Khanh Van tower are already on the edge of a hundred meter precipice.

The total area of industrial zone of Tinh Phong, hundreds of hectares, is made from the earth taken from the hill. “It is lucky that the foundations at Tinh are complete, so workers stopped digging at the hill,” Ha said.

The obvious question is why the commune allowed digging around the antique tower in the first place.

Bui Hong Huong, director of the Quang Ngai Museum, said, “The sector had no funding to rank the cultural relics. Because no ranking has been done, no sign or notice was given to the local authority."

Sadly, short of major intervention, the last remaining relic of the Cham culture in Quang Ngai will be demolished when the rainy season comes and the land slides.

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