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Bảo tàng lịch sử Quốc gia

Vietnam National Museum of History

17/04/2009 11:20 2637
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In occasion of the 85 th anniversary of the discovery and study of the culture of Dong Son, the National Museum of Vietnamese History organizes an exhibition of remarkable objects of Dong son gathered these five last years (2004 – 2009), among which are objects known for the first time, namely the collection of lampadaries at the site of Lang Vac (Nghe An). It is a collection never seen so far, comprising lampadaries in the form of people, of elephant, of stag, of ox, buried together with the dead to go to the next world, and discovered in tombs considered as belonging to the upper class of the contemporary society
In occasion of the 85th anniversary of the discovery and study of the culture of Dong Son, the National Museum of Vietnamese History organizes an exhibition of remarkable objects of Dong son gathered these five last years (2004 – 2009), among which are objects known for the first time, namely the collection of lampadaries at the site of Lang Vac (Nghe An). It is a collection never seen so far, comprising lampadaries in the form of people, of elephant, of stag, of ox, buried together with the dead to go to the next world, and discovered in tombs considered as belonging to the upper class of the contemporary society

In 1935, o. Janse, a swedish scholar has discovered the man-shaped lampadary at Lach Truong (Thanh Hoa) with human elements suggesting a relation to the remote origin of greek mythology with the symbol of the god of wine and of the lampadary which have entered in the archaeologic literature of the country and of the world as an unique phenomenon of Vietnam. After Janse, other opinions think that it is a lampadary of the Chinese of Dong Han. They are Hun slaves, taken as war prisoners in the war of chinese northern frontier 20 centuries ago, and turned into lamp bearers for the noblemen of the time, and following their masters in their mission of mandarin in Giao Chi (old name of Vietnam)

The man-shaped lampadary in this exhibition has no occidental elements, it is not a Hun according to his visage. It is native of Dong Son which we have seen on the handles of man-shaped daggers, on the quite typical motives of decoration of the drums of Dong Son.

The elements of Dong Son are also obvious on all the lampadaries of the collection, they are usual animals in the art of Dong Son that we have seen on the bas-reliefs of the bronze drums or on the spherical masses of the handles of dagger, the bronze bells, such as oxen, stags, elephants.

One can say that the lampadary is a spiritual phenomenon, having a religious meaning. It is nearly a constant of history. In the religious concepts of the Orient or the nocturnal religious activities, the light has a fundamental role. This has a close relation with the conceptions of the universe and is considered as a reflected light of the sun, the moon and the stars. The light is the symbole of the soul and has a sacred contents. The light emitted from the lampadary is like a bright aureole, bringing to everybody divine worship, belief and immortality.
In relation with the universe, the lampadary on elephant back at Lang Vac represents also a cosmological tree, with numerous branches and many storeys where we can find a whole ceremony of sacrifice where the animals are waiting and where people are surrounding the lampadary to celebrate the ceremony.

The lampadaries can be considered as the symbol of renovation, of the universe. That means that they are guides which show the way for the dead in their journey to the next world. The statues of the men on the lampadaires of Dong Son are flute-players, trumpet-players, as a conclusion for the reappearance of gods and goddesses in the upsets of man life, as well as the reflexion on the choice of the wat to take.

Phạm Quốc Quân
National museum of Vietnamese History

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Echo of Dong Son – Newly discovered objects in 2004 - 2009

Echo of Dong Son – Newly discovered objects in 2004 - 2009

  • 17/04/2009 11:09
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The culture of Dong Son was first discovered in 1924 at the river Ma side, in the commune of Dong Son, huyen of Dong Son (now districi of Ham Rong, Thanh Hoa city). In this very place was first discovered the collection of vestiges of the age of metals in Vietnam. Since then, the culture of Dong Son has been studied and explored many times, chiefly in the three big rivers of north Vietnam, it is the centres of Red River, of River Ma and of River Ca. At these three centers, the archaeologists have found the successive stages of cultural development to arrive at last at the summit which is the culture of Dong Son. Besides the principal lines of development, including the three centers of Dong Son of the three rivers, the culture of Dong Son comprises also other elements showing the cultural background of different regions and giving to the collection various features: sea – mountains – middle region and plain. After 85 years of study and exploration, Dong Son has affirmed its internal strength of development, and also contributions from other cultures, as well as its own contributions to other cultures of continental and insular South-east Asia.