Collectors showcase Vietnamese antiquities in exhibition

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08 June 2007 (VietNam Net Bridge) – 20 collectors of Vietnamese antiquities showcase the best and oldest in an exhibition in Hue City for the Traditional Craft Festival. It is interesting to note that the aim of this exhibition is to provide inspiration for craft makers to produce antique-style souvenirs!

20070608 VietNam Net Bridge

Antiquarians to descend upon Hue

For the first time, hundreds of antiques made of materials ranging from wood to gold owned by 20 collectors nationwide will be exhibited at the 2007 Hue Traditional Craft Festival that starts today, June 8.

Other collectors will come to the festival with more than 30 antiques dating from the Nguyen Dynasty, Vietnam’s last dynasty. Thanh Hoa province will contribute the most to the festival with nearly 200 antiques, more than 100 of which date back to the Dong Son period.

According to the organisation committee, of the collectors to participate in the upcoming festival, only collector Hoang Van Thong from Thanh Hoa has established his own private antique museum. Others have exhibited their collections at many places, but this will be their first participation in a bronze, wooden and gold antique exhibition in a festival.

Read more about the Hue 2007 Traditional Craft Festival.

For books about Vietnamese antiquities, you might want to read:
Art & Archaeology of Fu Nan by J. C. Khoo
The Art of Champa by J. Hubert
Vietnamese Ceramics: A Separate Tradition by J. Stevensen, J. Guy and L. A. Cort

Khmer art exhibition in Berlin

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07 June 2007 (The Economist) – The Economist reviews the Angkor: Sacred Heritage of Cambodia exhibition in Berlin and also touches on looted Cambodian antiquities. The looting of Cambodia’s cultural heritage has been touched on many times in this site; you might want to look up our podcast featuring Heritage Watch, as well as the more recent news of Angkor Wat artefacts put up for sale on eBay.

Gods on display

There are two stories that unfold in the cool lofty rooms of Berlin’s 19th-century Martin-Gropius-Bau museum—a far cry from the sweaty heat of the National Museum of Phnom Penh, which has lent many of the exhibits. First, are the splendid sculptures dominated by a procession of the Hindu deities, Vishnu and Shiva, plus Harihara, who represents a mixture of both. One of the most striking is the serene face and upper body of Vishnu in a sleeping pose, an 11th-century fragment of what is believed to have been the largest bronze statue ever cast in Cambodia.

The second story is less obvious and probably unintended by the show’s organisers. It is to do with the wholesale looting of the temples that began when the French swept into Angkor 150 years ago. In the style of European colonisers of the period, acquisitive French explorers strapped prize statues onto the backs of locals for the trip out of the jungle, then loaded them onto rafts for the journey down the Mekong river for dispatch to Paris. Many ended up as the core of the collection of Asian art at Paris’s Musée Guimet.

Read about the Angkor: Sacred Heritage of Cambodia exhibtion at the Martin-Gropius-Bau museum.

Books about the art and statuary of Cambodia and the Khmers:
Adoration and Glory: The Golden Age of Khmer Art by E. C. Bunker and D. Latchford
Apsarases at Angkor Wat, in Indian context by K. M. Srivastava
Khmer sculpture and the Angkor civilization by M. Giteau
Art & Architecture of Cambodia (World of Art) by H. I. Jessup

Brunei museums showcase collections in International Museum Day

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22 May 2007 (The Brunei Times) – Keeping with the International Museum Day season, the museums of Brunei have launched an exhibition showcasing the best of their collections.

Brunei joins drive to save heritage

IN RESPONSE to a global call to optimise the use of museum collections as educational tools on national heritage, the Brunei Museums Department has launched an exhibition to showcase part of their select collections, some of which have never been displayed before.

The Unique and Rare Collections exhibition was officiated by Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Dewa Major General (Rtd) Dato Seri Pahlawan Hj Mohammad Hj Daud yesterday at the launch of the International Museum Day 2007 celebrations held at the Brunei Museums in Jalan Kota Batu.

Since its establishment in 1965, the Museums Department has actively collected natural and cultural artifacts through trade, lending, excavations and expeditions. In 2006, its total collection amounted to about 673,000 artifacts, which are divided among several sections ethnography, archaeology, nature study, national archive, art gallery, maritime archaeology and library.

Read the full story here.

Related Books:
Museum Treasures of Southeast Asia by B. Campell

Exhibition on ancient Ha Long culture

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25 April 2007 (Viet Nam Net Bridge) – The Quang Ninh Museum and the National Museum of Vietnamese Revolution in Hanoi have launched a month-long exhibition showcasing prehistoric Ha Long culture, located in the vicinity of Ha Long bay and city.

Vietnam Net Bridge, 25 Apr 2007

Ancient Ha Long culture exhibited in Hanoi

Ha Long city is widely famous for its beautiful Ha Long Bay. But few know that it is also the site of an uninterrupted ancient culture dating from the first period of the Stone Age, no less than 5,000 years ago.

Of a series of archeological items discovered within the past 20 years, there are bones of ancient Vietnamese. These suggest that ancient Ha Long culture is an endogenous culture, which was doubted by some famous foreign archeologists in the first half of the 20th century such as M. Colani (France), and J.G. Andersson (Sweden).

All of the cultural layers unearthed at 34 sites throughout Quang Ninh Province contain countless vestiges of ancient Vietnamese. Though human bones weren’t found in those well-known sites (Ba Vung, Bai Tu Long, and Bo Chuyen), in 2001, in the Hon Hai – Co Tien are in Ha Long city, archeologists discovered 43 graves of ancient Vietnamese as well as jewelry, ceramic works and working tools.

This discovery has since then dispersed any doubt about the endogenous ancient Ha Long culture. It also shows that 3,500 years ago, Ha Long culture was at its peak. Humans who knew how to create working tools started to explore the sea and trade with those from other areas.

Related Books:
Some references to the Ha Long culture can be found in
Southeast Asia: From Prehistory to History by P. S. Bellwood and I. Glover (Eds)
The Bronze Age of Southeast Asia (Cambridge World Archaeology) by C. Higham

Art exhibition showcases Borobudur

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21 April 2007 (Antara) – The greatest Buddhist monument on the face of the earth becomes the subject of a visual art exhibition to held in Jogjakarta from April 20 to May 9.

Indonesia, Unesco hold expo on Borobudur temple

Indonesia`s Cultural and Tourism Ministry and The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) organized a visual art exhibition entitled `The Thousand Mysteries of Borobudur` in Yogyakarta.

“This expo marks the revival of Borobudur through visual art performances from various works of arts,” Jogja Gallery Curator Mikke Susanto said when opening the exhibition at the Jogja Gallery, here late Friday.

The expo displays various paintings, statues, graphics, photography, and videos depicting the Borobudur Temple.

Visitors of the exhibition could get a picture about the Borobudur Temple in the past, before and after the restoration.

The exhibition will last from April 20 to May 9, 2007, at the Jogja Gallery, Yogyakarta northern square.

Related Books:
The Restoration of Borobudur (World Heritage Series)
The Lost Temple of Java (History/Journey’s Into the Past) by P. Grabsky
The Mysteries of Borobudur: Discover Indonesia Series by J. N. Miksic
Borobudur by L. Frederic and J. Nou
Borobudur: Golden Tales of the Buddhas (Periplus Travel Guides) by J. Miksic

Terengganu Scripted Stone Exhibited In Jakarta

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15 December 2006 (Bernama) – Just in case you’e not familiar with the geography, Terengganu is a state in (peninsular) Malaysia, and Jakarta is the capital of Indonesia.

Terengganu Scripted Stone Exhibited In Jakarta

The Terengganu Scripted Stone 1903, the artefact that shows the advent of Islam to the Peninsula, is one of the archeological artefacts which will be exhibited during the Titian Budaya Malaysia-Indonesia exhibition from Dec 16 to 18 here.

Museum Department Director-General Datuk Dr Adi Taha said, the scripted stone would be exhibited at a special exhibition organised by the department at the main lobby of the Jakarta Convention Centre (JCC) in conjunction with the Titian Budaya programme there.

“We shall also exhibit the Avalokiteswara Buddha (the Buddha with eight arms) and the Aceh Tombstone, he told Bernama at the programme’s Secretariat office here.

Thai antiquities unveiled to show true face of Buddhist culture

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10 November 2006 (Vietnam Net Bridge) – From the storeroom of the National Museum of Vietnamese History, an exhibition of Buddhist antiquities from Thailand.

Vietnam Net Bridge, 10 Nov 2006

Thai antiquities unveiled to show true face of Buddhist culture

Starting today, visitors will have chance to admire 200 objects for either domestic or ritual use, including abundant amounts of ceramic, bronze and wood materials dated from 19th and 20th centuries all the way back to the 4th century BC.

The domestic section presents the collection of complex decorated ceramic wares made of many precious pottery materials like Sawankalok plates, celadon glazed ceramics or polychrome enamel fruit trays. Most of the displayed objects project Buddhist motifs or were used in offerings to Buddha.

Related Books:
Origins Of Thai Art by B. Gosling
The Arts of Thailand by S. Van Beek and L. Invernizzi
The Buddhist World of Southeast Asia (Suny Series in Religion) by D. K. Swearer

Podcast: Treasures of the South China Sea


It’s the first SEAArch podcast! We go on-location to the Aquaria @ KLCC, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to bring you a first-hand look at the Treasures of the South China Sea exhibition, on now until the end of this month. Please leave comments and feedback!

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It’s a hazy day in Kuala Lumpur, and we are on our way to the KLCC where the famous Petronas towers are standing. The Petronas towers are currently the tallest buildings in the world, but we’re not going up the towers today, instead we are heading underground and back in time.

The Treasures of the South China Sea exhibition at the Aquaria is a rare chance to get up close and personal with artefacts dating as far back as one thousand years. Organised by Nanhai Marine Archaeology and supported by the Malaysia Department of Museums, the exhibition showcases artefacts retrieved from ten shipwrecks found in the waters of Malaysia.

In chronological order, the ten shipwrecks are: The Tanjung Simpang, Turiang, Nanyang, Longquan, Royal Nanhai, Xuande, Singtai, Wanli, Anantes and Desaru. The wrecks are named arbitrarily, sometimes named after their present locations and at other times named after some characteristic feature. They date from the 10th century right up to the 19th century and cover the Chinese dynasties of Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing.

Most of the pieces in the exhibition are on sale and collectors interested in owning a piece of history might be interested in buying a gong, a bowl or a pair of spoons from the Desaru shipwreck. For my part – and my meagre budget – I got a miniature celadon jarlet retrieved from the Royal Nanhai wreck that dates to around 1450. I also bought a book on Malaysian Shipwrecks.

The company behind the retrieval of these artefacts, Nanhai Marine Archaeology, works very closely with the Malaysian Department of Museums. Sten Sjostrand, the principle investigator and founder of the company sees himself as a marine archaeologist rather than a treasure hunter or antique dealer. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to speak with him when I was there, but from what I hear, he’s really passionate about his work and so hopefully we can hear from him in another podcast.

The Museums Department gets its choice of artefacts and 30% of the retrieved finds, and the remaining 70% are sold by the company. The money raised is used to fund future marine expeditions. This exhibition is special, however, because it may be one of the last ever and so if you have the time, you should make the trip down because Mr Sjostrand is said to be retiring.

The Treasures of the South China Sea Exhibition is on at the Aquaria at KLCC until the end of October. For more information, you can visit Nanhai Marine Archaeology’s website at and don’t forget to visit the SEAArch website at S-E-double A-R-C-H dot wordpress dot com for a full transcript of this podcast and more news and resources on the archaeology of Southeast Asia.

Music for this podcast was by Gamelan Nyai Saraswati from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. You can send your comments, feedback and suggestions to Until next time, this is Noel signing off for the SEAArch podcast.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.

Related Books:
Shipwrecks and Sunken Treasure in Southeast Asia by T. Wells
Oriental trade ceramics in Southeast Asia, 10th to 16th century: Selected from Australian collections, including the Art Gallery of South Australia and the Bodor Collection by J. Guy

Jewelries of ancient Vietnamese exhibited in HCM City

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12 October 2006 (Vietnam Net Bridge, also Thanh Nien Daily and Nhan Dan)

Vietnam Net Bridge, 12 Oct 2006

Jewelries of ancient Vietnamese exhibited in HCM City

An exhibition displaying 500 pieces of ancient Vietnamese women’s jewelry kicks off today at the Southern Women’s Museum in HCM City.

At the exhibition, numerous jewelry collections of Vietnamese people who lived during the time of the Phung Nguyen, Dong Son, Sa Huynh and Oc Eo cultures will be showcased. These collections consist of a large number of different kinds of jewelries such as stone ear rings, hairpins, bracelets, bronze mirrors and glass necklaces.

Related Books:
Jewelry of Southeast Asia by A. Richter

How artists view Sapa’s ancient rock carvings

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20 September 2006 (Vietnam Net Bridge) – This article has made me change my “cave drawings” category to “Cave Art / Rock Art”.

Vietnam Net Bridge, 20 Sep 2006

How artists view Sapa’s ancient rock carvings

Artistic interpretations of the strange rock carvings around Sapa are the theme of a photographic exhibition organized by the Fine Arts Institute, the Southeast Prehistory Center and the Lao Cai Department of Culture and Information at the Hanoi University of Fine Arts until the end of September.