Sanskrit texts inscribed on the steles at the My Son Sanctuary, a UNESCO World Heritage Site near Hoi An, will be translated with help from Indian experts.
According to Vietnam Plus, beginning on April 3, Indian specialists will examine the worn-out steles and translate the epitaphs from Sanskrit to Vietnamese and English. The effort will offer insights into the religious, cultural and historical context behind My Son.
"There are 31 steles inscribed in Sanskrit made of a variety of bricks and stones, which are the chief building materials of My Son Sanctuary," Nguyen Cong Khiet, deputy head of My Son’s management committee, told the news source.
“The largest obstacle to translators and other experts is that the majority are broken or missing fragments. As a result, this project will require a lot of time and effort to complete,” Khiet noted, acknowledging the difficulties he and his Indian partners face.
Aside from this project, a bilateral 2016 memorandum ratified between Nahendra Modi, the current Prime Minister of India, and Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Modi’s Vietnamese counterpart, has provided an additional US$2.2 million in conserving Cham monuments at My Son Sanctuary. The memorandum appointed teams from the Archeological Survey of India to oversee the tasks. The funds will continue to be released until 2021.
As part of this project, this year Vietnamese and Indian teams will continue conservation efforts on the K and H towers at the site, while also starting work on tower A. A 2017 excavation revealed a variety of archeological artifacts such as an intricate kalasha tower, building materials and a lion-man sculpture. The work also uncovered a path from tower K leading to the main sanctuary area. Experts believe the path was once reserved for royal and religious ceremonies, according to Bao Tin Tuc.
Over a century ago, similar efforts to decode the epitaphs petered out. For instance, Louis Finot, a French archeologist-paleographer noted for his translation of the inscriptions, produced a partial deciphering of the Sanskrit inscriptions at My Son. His work, incomplete as it may be, remains an important reference for the complex's conservation.
My Son had been recognized as a World Heritage Site since 1999 and features a collection of Cham monuments dedicated to Hindu deities such as Krishna and Vishnu.
[Photo via Nomad is Beautiful]