Bronze. Diameter: 49cm; height: 37,4cm.
1800 AD (Tay Son dynasty). Discovered in Ninh Hiep commune, Gia Lam district, Hanoi.
Inspired by the shape of the traditional leather drum, this is a unique example of the creative art of the Tay Son period. The drum has a cylindrical shape, a bulging upper face which has a double circle in the middle. The body is composed of three parts separated by two lines in relief. Four circular strips are evenly attached to the body. From the top to the bottom, the body if decorated with various patterns, including nailheads, bodhi leaves, T-shaped motifs and the four mythical animals: dragon, unicorn, turtle and phoenix.
The Chinese characters on the drum’s body praise pious donations made towards the construction of Linh Ung pagoda (now Nanh pagoda, Ninh Hiep commune, Gia Lam District, Hanoi) by Lady Nguyen Thi Loc, the wife of a great royal officer, in the second year of the Vinh Huu reign (King Le Y Tong) in 1736. The drum was cast in the 8th year of the Canh Thinh reign, Tay Son dynasty, in 1800.
In addition to its significance as an embodiment of the creativity, imagination and artistic skill of the Viet people in the Tay Son period, and the importance of this period of dynastic rule to the history of Vietnam, this artefact is a vivid illustration of the enduring tradition of the bronze drum as a spiritual symbol enduring and preserved in Vietnam over thousands of years.