Thursday, 11/21/2019
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Bảo tàng lịch sử Quốc gia

Vietnam National Museum of History

10/01/2019 15:06 821
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Among 30 museum pieces recognized in 1st review as National Treasures a piece from sea, exactly from estuary: Lach Truong estuary, the land between 2 districts of Thanh Hoa province Hau Loc and Hoang Hoa. The treasure called bronze lamp which was found in 1953 in brick tomb aging first centuries AD.

 Among 30 museum pieces recognized in 1st review as National Treasures a piece from sea, exactly from estuary: Lach Truong estuary, the land between 2 districts of Thanh Hoa province Hau Loc and Hoang Hoa. The treasure called bronze lamp which was found in 1953 in brick tomb aging first centuries AD.

The lamp had begun famous right after its discovery and called Lach Truong bronze lamp. It was getting even more famous because of the man who found it: a Swedish archeologist, Mr O. Janse. Because of many ancient artifacts were found there, he named the local cultural layer as Lach Truong culture. More than 70 years have passed, the conception of Lach Truong culture still remained controversial and perhaps a bit forgotten but the bronze lamp is getting more and more famous and now it becomes precious treasure of Dong Son culture together with Ngoc Lu and Hoang Ha bronze drums.

The bronze lamp has originality because at the same time it is a lamp and a statue, kneeling men with hands carrying bowl for burning. It should be noted that about 2000 years ago the fuel used for lighting was not the same as we know today; it was seed oil (perhaps peanut oil) burning in lamp’s bowl. Such kind of lamp still existed for long time unlike its bowls could vary in shapes according to fashion trend. On the other hand, the man in Lach Truong bronze lamp has got an appearance indistinctive for Vietnamese people but typical for the people from middle Asia or from India with beard, curly hair and protruding nose that caused many opinions of this lamp hereof. The man who found the lamp O. Janse supposed the lamp was under influence of Greece and Roman culture, some researcher supposed the lamp was the product of Chinese culture and drifted to Lach Truong estuary. 

Some Vietnamese researchers supposed the Lach Truong bronze lamp is not the only one, there are 3 other human-shape lamps with the same age as Lach Truong lamp, perhaps they were bronze artifacts made by ancient Vietnamese in post Dong Son cultural era. 

Other hypothesis supposed the Lach Truong lamp was a product of cultural interchange between East and West 2000 years ago by sea, Those times, India traded with Vietnam with its glass and gemstone decoration goods, gold decorations, coins from Europe and Middle East also existed in Middle and Southern regions of Vietnam in early Champa and Oc Eo cultures so the appearance of the man of another race in Vietnamese society was quite ordinary case, anyway we don’t exactly know who made this lamp, perhaps  it’s made by descendants of Dong Son bronze drum’s masters, perhaps it was brought from afar.

The Lach Truong lamp describes kneeling man with wide chest and waist belt, especially in his arms and hind head tiny human statues carrying small curved sticks. There are many tiny statues are grafted onto these sticks in knees and groin of the man. This type of decoration on analogous lamps evidences about fashion trend of those times.

A few words about the land where the lamp was found – Lach Truong estuary (also called Y Bich or Linh Truong estuary), the estuary of formerly Ngu Giang river (Ma river in present), hundreds of years ago the river changed its flow and its estuary was moved to the south and now known as Lach Trao estuary (near Som Son beach). About Lach Truong estuary was just a memory in history as once big economic center of Thanh Hoa province, where were found  many bick tombs of  notables and this lamp.

 Lach Truong estuary now has a good view with Linh Truong mountains and sea beach, the estuary today is much narrower but Lach Truong in the past was quite different so that Le Thanh Tong king has visited here in 7th Hong Duc lunar year (1746) and wrote poem “Linh Truong Hai Khau” (according to the book of “Dai Viet su ky toan thu”). The poem depictures the landscape of Lach Truong with high blue craggy mountains along sea coast, a deep cave in the mountain called the mouth of dragon and big rock of irregular shape outside the cave called the nose of dragon.

Formerly Lach Truong estuary was wide, it saw many battles were there, in 1380 king Ho Qui Ly ordered to drive anti-ship piles in river bottom to defense from Champa naval forces came from the sea.

National treasure Lach Truong lamp evidences about formerly vivacious estuary of Ma river, crossroad of trade routes and the river from which originated Dong Son and post Dong Son cultures.

 
 

                 Lach Truong bronze lamp: front and side views

 

                      Associated professor, doctor Trịnh Sinh

Translator: Nguyen Thai Hung


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