Rare "mukhalinga' on display in Vietnam

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Visitors study the mukhalinga adorned with Shiva's face at the My Son relic site in Quang Nam Province

A Hindu phallic symbol with Shiva's face carved into it was placed on display at the My Son Champa ruins in central Vietnam Saturday, becoming the first intact mukhalinga to be exhibited in Southeast Asia.

The statue is estimated to date back to the 7th or 8th centuries.

It was uncovered in November of last year as rains eroded the ground, around ten meters from one temple of My Son, which is a complex of Cham temple ruins in Quang Nam Province, not far from Hoi An.

Linga represents male creative energy according in Hinduism. Mukhalingas, lingams with the faces of humans and gods, began appearing in northern India during the 1st to 3rd centuries.

The item on display made from a block of brownish gold sandstone stands 1.46 meters high, with the Shiva bust on the round head.

Doctor Ngo Van Doanh from the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies at Vietnamese Academy of Social Sciences called the mukhalinga special, and the first intact one of its kind to be discovered in Southeast Asia.

It will be available for public viewing through month's end to mark the 14-year anniversary of the complex receiving UNESCO world heritage status.

Nguyen Cong Huong, chief manager of My Son, said mukhalingas were only known in Vietnam through images and documents.

"The display has been a big surprise to visitors," Huong said.

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