News in Hoi An Ancient Town

Vishnu and Thu Bon river

Vishnu is regarded as the Preserver, one of three deities related to water in Hinduism. He was worshipped by the ancient Cham people and believed to bless the travellers up and down the Thu Bon river. The economic system and this particular belief made a special cultural character of the ancient Quang Nam.

The Vishnu Narayana relief found in The Phu Gia, Que Phuoc commune. (taken by Nguyen Thuong Hy)

The Vishnu Narayana relief found in Phu Gia Hamlet (taken by Nguyen Thuong Hy)

The relief of Vishnu Narayana was found to be worshipped in Phu Gia Hamlet, Que Phuoc commune on the bank of Thu Bon river in Spring 35 years ago. At that time, there were so many rumours about the sacredness of this 88cm-high relief, which was made of violet sandstone in about the 7th or 8th century. It is told that the relief was stolen in 1998, but sneakily returned to its former position (on the bank of Thu Bon river at Phu Gia Hamlet) in 2002 due to its sacredness. Then, the relief was transferred to the Cultural Office of Que Son district.

My Son Sanctuary. (by Phuong Thao)

My Son Sanctuary. (by Phuong Thao)

It is a rare statue, the only relief of Vishnu Narayana (Vishnu in world) in Vietnam. The god shown in an upright position has four hands with dharma weapons (a snail – representing the wind, and a circle – the image of the sun showing fire) and Hindu religious signs referring to satisfaction and no fear. He is standing on the waves with a happy smile.

Thu Bon River. (by Duy Hien)

Thu Bon River. (by Duy Hien)

The Vishnu Narayana relief itself is a prominent symbol of religious beliefs and activities related to the Thu Bon River. This river was mentioned as the Great river (or mother river Mahanadi) in the period of the 4-7th centuries BC. It combined with the Great mountain (or father mountain Mahaparvata) to make this area sacred. The river was the main route to exchange goods and products smoothly between the mountainous and delta regions, creating the riparian economic exchange network around the world from the 5th century BC to the 1st century AD, and later. Therefore, Quang Nam was supposed to be one of the most global prosperous areas in the 17th century in Le Quy Don’s writings.

The Vishnu Narayana relief, worshipped at Phu Gia whaft on the Thu Bon River, is the only vivid evidence of the riverside trading network over a thousand years ago.