Nowadays, we can not see any architectural relic of the Ly-Tran dynasty remaining in the original form in Vietnam so far. However, there still exist the earthen bricks which are recognized as the construction material of the Ly-Tran dynasty. Those bricks were found in the archaeological excavations and/or preserved by museums and collectors.
The Vietnam National Museum of History is now housing hundreds of Ly -Tran earthen construction materials. In this article, we would like to introduce the earthen brick collection. Those bricks were secured by EFEO at the end of 19th century - early 20th century, through excavations made in Quan Ngua, Ngoc Ha, Kim Ma, Cong Vi (now Thang Long Royal Citadel - Hanoi). Also in 2002, the excavation at Thang Long Royal Citadel site discovered many valuable items. Among them, there were foundation building materials such as bricks and floor tiles...
Our museum's collection of Ly -Tran bricks includes:
* Bricks for building walls, etc...
Those ones almost do not have patterns or decorations. They have rectangular or square shapes, in various sizes, used for constructing the walls, water wells or drainages...
Bricks in Ly dynasty:
- Square and rectangular shape. On one of its face carves 2 lines of characters meaning "Made in the 3th King of the Ly dynasty, 1057)", red color. This kind of brick was also found in Phat Tich stupa relic (Bac Ninh province) and Tuong Long stupa (Hai Phong city) and Thang Long Royal Citadel.
- The bricks in hexagonal shape, 2 beveled corners, on one face of the brick carving 2 dragons inside a bodhi leaf, bright red color. This kind was found in Quan Ngua, Thang Long Citadel.
- Triangular shape, bright red, dragon in a circle decoration, 52,5 cm x 29cmx 6,5cm.
- Another kind in rectangular shape, red color, carving 2 models of towel, found in Cong Vi.
Some are not in perfect form, dragon carving, red color.
Bricks in Tran dynasty
Rectangular shape carving 3 characters "Vinh Ninh truong", red and grey color. Found in Vinh Ninh, Thanh Hoa province.
Some others are bright red, carving the words "Thien ha thai binh" (peaceful world).
* Floor tile:
Found in big quantity, mainly square shape, red color, high temperature firing, decorated with dragon, lotus, lemon...
+ Lotus decoration:
Dating back to the 11th-13th century, square shape, decorating a lotus flower with 8 petals, found in Quan Ngua, Hanoi.
+ Lemon flower decoration:
Dating back to the 13th-14th century, square shape, carving lemon petal in the face and at the corner, one big lemon flower can be seen by matching 4 peaces of bricks. Found in Vinh Phuc and Quan Ngua.
The construction materials have been also found recently through many excavations made at Thang Long Royal Citadel, Ho dynasty citadel (Thanh Hoa province) (Vietnam Archaeological Institute), and Van Don port city - Quang Ninh province (Vietnam National Museum of History). It shows a fact that the culture and economy in the Ly-Tran dynasties were very high developed.
Nguyen Thi Thanh Hien
EN: Tran Trang