Saturday, July 3, 2010

Vestiges of Oc Eo culture at Ba The Mountain

In 1942, in Thoai Son District, An Giang Province, a French archaeologist discovered many artifacts of the Oc Eo culture which were attached to the legendary kingdom of Phu Nam dating back nearly 1,500 years.

The antiques were kept in a cottage in the rice field where they were discovered before the local authorities brought them to the top of Ba The Mountain in Oc Eo Hamlet, Thoai Son District.

These antiques reveal secrets of a strong and prosperous kingdom that originated in South Asia. After about 1,500 years of the displacement of nature and history, this culture has fallen into oblivion.

In 2002, the government built a winding concrete road lined with trees to the top of Ba The Mountain to serve tourism.

At the top of the mountain is Son Tien Tu Pagoda which was built in 1933. Standing in front of the pagoda is an eight-meter high statue of Quan The Am and next to it a three-meter high slab of granite with a diameter large enough to separate a circle of four or five people. On this huge stone’s surface is a footprint which is bigger than a normal human footprint. People call it a ban chan tien, or a fairy’s foot.

About ten kilometers from the pagoda is a house that looks like an Indian temple with a front door facing east following the Hindu pattern. This house contains many antiques related to the history and culture of Ba The-Oc Eo. In front are two statues of human bodies with elephant heads and with linga and yoni in hand.

The antiques are divided into three groups. One includes ceramic vases, metal pots and terracotta cups. The second includes bricks, walls, pillars and statues of humans, Buddha and animals. The final group features terracotta tombs, stone molds as some stone jewelry.

“I seem to live in the past of Phu Nam’s time. I can imagine how their life was, the way they built houses, cooked and practiced religious rituals and festivals. It is amazing when artifacts of a vanished nation still exist,” said an unidentified visitor to the relic.

Saigon Times Online. 2010. "Vestiges of Oc Eo culture at Ba The Mountain". Info.VN. Posted: June 22, 2010. Available online:

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