One of five ancient Chăm books donated to the Mỹ Sơn Sanctuary management board in Quảng Nam Province. These books are linked to old ritual or worship ceremonies of the Chăm people in central Việt Nam over past decades. Photo courtesy of Mỹ Sơn Sanctuary
QUẢNG NAM The Mỹ Sơn Sanctuary management board has received five collections of ancient Chăm script books – related to old rituals or worship ceremonies of the Chăm people in central Việt Nam – from a local collector, contributing to precious data for the UNESCO-recognised world heritage site.
Deputy head of the management board, Nguyễn Công Khiết, said the books were donated by local antiquities collector Lâm Zũ Xênh from Quảng Ngãi Province.
He said they are the first old Chăm script books that have been sent to the Mỹ Sơn Sanctuary.
Lâm Zũ Xênh, 61, a Vietnamese-Chinese herbalist, whose father is an emigrant Chinese and mother is Vietnamese, told Việt Nam News that the five-book collection, made from dó (poonah paper) and ink by the Chăm people, had been preserved by a Chăm teacher in central Việt Nam before he collected them from a trans-Việt Nam trip six years ago.
Xênh said only several Chăm people could read and understand the old scripts, and he hoped cultural researchers would translate the content of the books into Vietnamese for public display.
The Quảng Ngãi-born collector said he had collected about 20 to 30 Chăm written books, and many books were donated to museums nationwide including the Chăm sculpture museum of Đà Nẵng – a popular exhibition centre of precious objects and statues from excavations at the Chăm towers in central Việt Nam from past centuries.
He said the five-book collection has 20 pages each, which are believed to have been used by Chăm people for ceremonies.
According to Xênh, the Chăm community in Ninh Thuận and Bình Thuận would preserve ancient books and objects, and they could read and translate the old written scripts in books and stone stele.
The Chăm Sculpture museum of Đà Nẵng and the Mỹ Sơn Sanctuary preserve sandstone stele that carved with written scripts.
Đinh Bá Hòa, a cultural researcher, said the central region of Việt Nam witnessed cultural exchanges among Chăm people (who ruled the central region between the 3rd and 13th century) and Đại Việt craftsmen (Great Việt, now Việt Nam).
The Mỹ Sơn Sanctuary – a UNESCO-recognised world heritage site in Quảng Nam Province’s Duy Xuyên District – had 70 temples and towers built in the 4th century, but many towers had collapsed or were ruined due to bombardments from wars and weather. VNS