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Vietnamese Ancient Antiquities

Oc Eo – Phu Nam culture

Cập nhật ngày: 10/ 7/ 2011
Ngoc Lu bronze drum

Bronze, Binh Luc - Ha Nam province, about 2.500 years B.P
Height: 63cm; Weight: 86kg
Diametre of the tympanum: 79cm;

Ngoc Lu bronze drum, classified as Heger type I, is the earliest and most valuable drum in four types of drums. This drum has a large size, an ancient, symmetrical look with abundant patterns. It is almost intact, with its surface covered with patina. Until now, of about 200 assorted bronze drums ever discovered, none of them could be able to match the Ngoc Lu bronze drum in all aspects. The fundamental function of the bronze drum is used as a musical instrument in festivals and rituals. It is constituted of two parts: The tympanum and the mantle; the former is a plain disc making one with the upper part. The mantle is divided into three parts: the barrel upper part swells - a resonance box and sound amplifier; the middle part is cylindrical which adjusts the sounds. The lower part is of truncated conial shape, an opening part to blow the sounds out quickly and spreadingly.
Patterns decorated on the Ngoc Lu bronze drum are found abundant and lively, expressing many aspects in material and spiritual life of the Dong Son people under the Hung Kings. These patterns include a multi-ray star (symbolizing the shining sun) at the centre of the typanum, in between the star rays are designs of stylized peacock feathers. Bands of geometrical patterns with small dots and surround the star. The band of human figures is constituted of two people pounding rice, some other standing or sitting inside the house, some are beating the drum and many others are dancing. In between those human patterns are the curved-roof stilted house, bronze drum, bronze bells, weapons, musical instruments and so on. The bands of animal figures include short-bill birds, the long-bill birds and deer. The barrel is decorated with a boat carrying armed people in different activities. The body is decorated with a warrior holding weapon, shield and axe. The handles of the drum are cast with pairs of symmetrical rice ears.
The Ngoc Lu bronze drum is the most typical bronze drum in the bronze drum system of Vietnam, and at the same time symbolizes the ut-most brilliant peak of the Dong Son culture. The drum converges the scientific knowledge of the time as well as the artistic talent and mind of the ancient Viet. The decorative patterns on the Ngoc Lu bronze drum considered a standard of a harmonious combination of the characteristics and style of decorative art of Dong Son bronze articles.
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