Bronze daggers unearthed in Hanoi and Phu Tho Province
On the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the discovery of Dong Son Culture, the Vietnam History Museum has co-ordinated with some of its counterparts in the North in selecting and displaying typical artifacts representative of Dong Son Culture. Visiting the exhibition, viewers can see the great creativity of the subjects of Dong Son Culture, with its typical unity and diversity from over 2,000 years ago.
The precious and rare Dong Son antiquities in Vietnam were first found in 1924 at Dong Son Village, Thanh Hoa Province (Central Vietnam). Since then, the archaeologists of Vietnam and the world have always been interested in the information of the collection and research in Dong Son artifacts. So far Dong Son objects from more than 200 archaeological sites have been discovered, unearthed and displayed, with tens of thousands of rare artifacts that bear proof of the existence and development of the indigenous Dong Son Culture of the Bronze Age, about 2,000-2,800 years ago.
Seven hundred rarities brought from local museums and fairly monumental private collections, typical and representative of different localities and regions in the country, have, for thousands of years, been preserved. They include the upper surface of the bronze drum found in Ha Tay Province, a bronze plough-share in Co Loa (Dong Anh District-Hanoi), sandstone moulds for dagger-casting in Ca Village (Phu Tho Province), ceramic pots in Thieu Duong (Thanh Hoa Province), gloves and socks with little bells attached, and cross-bow triggers, axes and bronze ladles from Vac Village (Nghe An Province).
Historians and the archaeologists hold the view that thanks to all these rarities, the mythical and legendary King Hung period can now go into the official annals of Vietnam, after the appraisal of the reliability of their dating under modern methods, in comparative studies on a few other localities in Vietnam and some other nations in the world. Quite a few archaeologists of Vietnam and the world have found the synchronic character of the Dong Son rarities in Vietnam and the differences between them and the objects excavated from the other sites overseas.
The Dong Son artifacts fall into three categories:
+ The Red River category whose principal terrain lies mainly in the northern mountain regions, midlands and delta, with whole collections of bronze drums, weapons, plough-shares ..., particularly the Hop Minh container, is on display for the first time, with decorative designs of ducks rarely found on early Dong Son objects, about 2,300-2,500 years ago. A Chau Can boat-shaped tomb, unearthed in 1977 in Ha Tay Province, built about 2,300 years ago, preserved almost intact the remains along with the coffin, a form of ancient burial, characteristic of the boat-shaped coffin of the northern marshlands.
+ The Ca River category includes the Dong Son artifacts such as daggers, marble ear-rings and bracelets from around 2,500 years ago. The Vietnamese historians and archaeologists have asserted there once existed some relationship between Dong Son and Sa Huynh Culture (2,500 years B.C.) of the provinces in Central Vietnam via the marble ear-rings. The Ca River Culture is characterised by its decoration with statuettes particularly dagger-handles of bronze (decorated with human figurines, two tigers biting the feet and the trunk of an elephant, or two snakes wreathing each other). Some Vietnamese archaeologists have held the view that the tiger and snake figurines might be connected with the myths of the ancient Viet.
+ The Ma River category is characterized by its domestic utensils such as bronze containers and lamp-stands, jewelry such as hairpins, bracelets... decorated with crocodile figurines, works of art such as statuettes of two persons blowing a flute while carrying each other ...
The discovery of Dong Son Culture that lasted long in a prehistoric period of homogeneous formation and development, unquestionably shows it inherited two uninterrupted periods of the states of Van Lang and Au Lac, that is from the Hung Kings to An Duong King Dyasty, with the removal of the capital from the mountains and midlands of Phu Tho down to Co Loa in the delta of Dong Anh District - Hanoi today. As a typical culture of the wet-rice cultivation, Dong Son Culture from the North had inter-relation and influence on Sa Huynh Culture of Central Vietnam and the culture in South Vietnam, as well as the Southeast Asian culture at large. In this context, Dong Son Culture represents the very core of the indigenous civilization of the ancient Viet. It is one of the cradles of the human races, with its traditions of wet-rice cultivation, creation of farm tools such as hoes and shovels, spades and axes...especially its bronze-casting of large-sized objects with rich and original decorative designs. Today whenever we discover something new and novel, we realise all the clearer the historical values of the treasure troves left by our great great forefathers.
ND - (29/11/2004)