Bronze. Dong Son culture, c.3rd – 2nd century BC.
Diameter of the upper face: 79.3cm. Diameter of the base: 80cm. Height: 63cm.
Discovered in Ngoc Lu village, Binh Luc district, Ha Nam province, then used for ceremonial purposes in Nhu Trac commune, Ly Nhan district, Ha Nam province.
This is a fine example of a rare and beautiful bronze drum, one of the most important artefacts of the Dong Son culture, the core and fundamental basis of the Red River Delta civilisation.
The drum was discovered in 1893 – 1894 in Ngoc Lu village (Binh Luc district, Ha Nam province). It has a beautiful and well-balanced shape, with delicate and skilful decorated motifs. It is the most beautiful bronze drum of the Dong Son culture ever discovered. The drum is grayish green and composed of 4 parts: upper face, rim, body, and base. In the middle of the face is a 14-ray sun in relief, surrounded by 16 circle bands of motifs in relief. The patterns include geometric designs, tangent circles with dots in their centres, motifs reflecting scenes of daily life, festivals, people playing drums, people milling rice, people praying for a good harvest, and so on. The rim is evenly curved and decorated with patterns such as boat racing, disguised people, birds, and animals. The body is cylindrical and the base is flared.
With its perfect beauty, the Ngoc Lu bronze drum is an extremely rare and precious artefact which reflects the history and culture of the Vietnamese people. It is a manifestation of the bronze casting art of the Dong Son culture at its peak which demonstrates the deep knowledge and worldview, talent, art and mind of the ancient Viet people, and is today a central symbol of Vietnamese culture.