That is Thanh Den ancient grave discovery, Lien Khe commune, Thuy Nguyen district, on October 10th 2009. Let’s us to overlook the descriptions that have quality of a science report, because, to displease on our colleagues’ toes at Hai Phong Museum, although, they gave us many informations about this grave
That is Thanh Den ancient grave discovery, Lien Khe commune, Thuy Nguyen district, on October 10th 2009. Let’s us to overlook the descriptions that have quality of a science report, because, to displease on our colleagues’ toes at Hai Phong Museum, although, they gave us many informations about this grave. Let’s us don’t go deep into the object document, because of those are “copyrights” that haven’t been announced by owner, although we are close to each other, we recognize ourself it is not good. But, in the face of an interested, important discovery, in our capacity as insider, it couldn’t be ok if we don’t have some comments when we see with our own eyes this very special grave.
1- The wooden outside in kennel covering a coffin in boat shaped is not popular in Vietnam, but Thanh Den is not exception. The archaeology found in Ngoc Lac (Thanh Hoa province), Tu Loc, Cuc Bo (Hai Duong province). In Hai Phong, there is a more interested and important discovery, about 40 years ago, that is Duong Du grave, also in Thuy Nguyen district, but the outside covering of coffin was built by brick vaulted scroll, put in the boat shaped coffin, with the burial goods made of lacquered work utensils plentifully, proving that the grave’s owner is an artisan. The type of the brick outside covering boat shaped coffin also found in Thien Khanh (Hai Duong province). So, we find out Thanh Den grave is an important discovery of Hai Phong, and it is also rare in Vietnam.
2- Thanh Den grave dated early AD, from circa 2000 years ago and it lied in complex of graves in this period. But, the difference of grave in structure and burial things from others, added into the awareness about Vietnamese burial custom, in general and in early AD, in particular.
* The first supplement, that is grave structure. The type graft the outside covering of coffin by thick wooden boards, large width, with the grave base was consolidated by beated white clay, flat as concrete are new documents, to show an economic trend, didn’t pave wood for the outside covering of coffin floor, due to the terrain where putted grave is laterite hill. While, Tu Loc, Cuc Bo, Ngoc Lac graves where the outside covering of coffin were paved by big wooden boards, as the foundation, when the grave is buried in depressed marsh.
The coffin and the outside covering of coffin in Thanh Den grave
* Take the grave to hill also is an exception of this grave type. That is a change in opinion, habit or burial method tradition, isn’t it? Maybe, that is a phenomenon relate to the geomancy belief, the mountain is behind, Da Bac river is in front, about 60 – 70 meters far from the grave.
* Take the grave to hill in order to change the burial terrain is marshed tradition, but still take the mud in the marsh to put into grave, is it true to remind about a tradition which can’t be given up immediately, when the grave’s owner used to live associately with the marshed ecologic, then they wish zoom in this down to the world of the dead? And it maybe taking the mud to the hill due to the technological reason, when they built the grave, they want the mud keep the humidity in order to the grave isn’t worm-eaten? The grave always is the most important matter in the spirit life of the Eastern in general, and Vietnamese people in particular.
* The coffin in boat shaped consist two tree-trunk halves are pierced empty bowel, to turn over each other by wooden rope knit, not by hinge, pull two halves with each other. The pull button is “con nín” (as a barricade, twist 2 tips are inseparable) by wood, create the human statue. There are 4 statues in Thanh Den grave, with unfinished method, modern, by a few strokes with a skillful axe cut, make the rounded statues, look sightly like Western Grassland charnel-house statue. Although with the main function is “con nín”, the human statues in the grave show the grave-keeper tradition, look like some minority ethnics in Western Grassland. This is one of many documents to research the relation between late Dong Son belief art and some other minority ethnics in Vietnam as: Ê Đê, Ba Na, Ko Tu…etc so many foreign and domestic scholars showed.
The coffin in Thanh Den grave
* There are 30 arecafruits and betel leaves in the grave (the betel leaves are dry, gaft in wood), put on the three-legs wooden trays, once again prove the chewing betel, blaken the teeth tradition of ancient Viet inhabitant has had since 2000 years, at the same time, the position of arecafruit, betel leaf on the worshiped estrade to confirm the unlosing of worshiped custom relate to betel and areca is popular till now.
* The burial thing is pottery, lacquered woodwork has Viet familiar style, material and design, it is truly a rare document to compare Thanh Den grave with others at the same time, in order to make clearly multilateral relation, or keeping the identity of this grave owner but the present document hasn’t showed yet who is he?
The pottery in Thanh Den grave
* Thanh Den is a place where relate closely to Vietnamese bronze period archaeology, so, Thanh Den used to associate with the big centers at the same time. The grave discovery is an important evidence to extend survey, in order to bring Thanh Den to light in general, and Lien Khe commune, Thuy Nguyen district, Hai Phong City in particular.
* Thanh Den grave must be still remained many interested informations, but we have to wait to correct and edit and excavation report. Some comments bring the suggest quality, we hope who care to discuss together, in order to the excavation projects about grave, archaeology have had many interestings by researchers and society.
Pham Quoc Quan – Nguyen Dinh Chien