Thai antiquities unveiled to show true face of Buddhist culture

From the storeroom of the National Museum of Vietnamese History, an exhibition of Buddhist antiquities from Thailand.

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

Tiny bronze commands a giant price

A feature on the Artsmart column about the National Gallery of Australia’s $4 million acquisition of The Bronze Weaver, a statuette dating from abut 600 AD. There is also an interesting mention on the provenance of the statuette.

03 November 2006 (Sydney Morning Herald) – A feature on the Artsmart column about the National Gallery of Australia’s $4 million acquisition of The Bronze Weaver, a statuette dating from abut 600 AD. There is also an interesting mention on the provenance of the statuette.

Tiny bronze commands a giant price

The National Gallery of Australia made headlines last week – and astonished tribal art fans – by outlaying a seemingly unprecedented $4 million for an Indonesian artifact.

The gallery’s purchase is a small Indonesian bronze figure of a weaver suckling a baby. Dubbed The Bronze Weaver, it dates from circa 600 AD.

While San Francisco authority Thomas Murray is guarded about the provenance of The Bronze Weaver, an object he evidently knows well, it appears the bronze hasn’t spent all its life in the hands of Westerners and was owned and treasured by a family on Flores as late as the 1970s.

How such a precious item could have emerged soon afterwards in the collection of a European connoisseur – whence it was bought by the National Gallery of Australia – is something of a mystery.

It’s likely the Indonesian cultural authorities will be upset the figure didn’t end up in one of their state collections.

The Bronze Weaver was apparently examined and photographed by a Harvard associate professor of art and anthropology, Marie Jeanne Adams, who in a paper published in 1977 describes it as a “previously unreported figure of exceptional artistic and historical interest” that was revered by the family that owned it.

The paper includes a photo of The Bronze Weaver being cradled by a woman on Flores, probably its owner.


Related Books:
The Bronze Age of Southeast Asia (Cambridge World Archaeology) by C. Higham
The bronze-iron age of Indonesia (Verhandelingen van het Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land-en Volkenkunde) by H. R. van Heekeren

Gallery unveils the $4million Indonesian bronze statuette

The National Gallery of Australia reveals its latest item in its collection, a 6th century bronze statuette of Indonesian origin. The article doesn’t describe the statuette’s provenance, but mentions that it was from the Javanese bronze age. This would put it around the time of the Srivijaya empire, although there is mention of an independent Bronze Age.

26 October 2006 (Sydney Morning Herald) – The National Gallery of Australia reveals its latest item in its collection, a 6th century bronze statuette of Indonesian origin. The article doesn’t describe the statuette’s provenance, but mentions that it was from the Javanese bronze age. This would put it around the time of the Srivijaya empire, although there is mention of an independent Bronze Age. Will have to go read that up.

Sydney Morning Herald, 26 Oct 2006

Gallery unveils the $4million woman

The diminutive sculpture depicts a woman nursing an infant while weaving on a foot-braced body tension loom.

Part of the myth surrounding the sculpture is the uncertainty about its age. It was believed to be too young to come from the Dong Son bronze-age culture that was centred on North Vietnam and ended in AD200, and it may have been from the Javanese Bronze Age, which peaked between the eighth and 14th centuries.

The gallery decided to have the clay core of the sculpture tested by thermo-luminescence.

The surprise result was that it was made between AD556 and 596.

Maxwell says archaeologists suggested there was an independent island bronze age in Indonesia about that time and there are several pieces in the National Gallery in Jakarta that are possibly from that period.


Related Books:
The Bronze Age of Southeast Asia (Cambridge World Archaeology) by C. Higham
The bronze-iron age of Indonesia (Verhandelingen van het Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land-en Volkenkunde) by H. R. van Heekeren

First private museum opens in Vietnam

First private museum showcasing artefacts from ancient Vietnam is opened.

21 September 2006 (Vietnam Net Bridge) – First private museum showcasing artefacts from ancient Vietnam is opened.

First private museum opens

The Hoang Long Artifacts Museum in the central province of Thanh Hoa is owned by Hoang Van Thong, who has zoned off 500 sq.m of his own land to establish the first ever private museum in Vietnam. The exhibits range from earthenware from the Dong Son culture in the Bronze Age (from 1000 to 1 BC) and farming tools, weapons, household utensils and personal decorations and antique ceramics from the Ly, Tran and Le dynasties from the late 10th century to the late 18th century.


Related Books:
Shipwrecks and Sunken Treasure in Southeast Asia by T. Wells

Lung Leng: window to prehistoric time

A larger feature on the Lung Leng archaeological site in the central highlands of Vietnam, with a larger range of photographs of the artefacts found there.

3 September 2006 (Viet Nam Net Bridge) – A larger feature on the Lung Leng archaeological site in the central highlands of Vietnam, with a larger range of photographs of the artefacts found there.

Viet Nam Net Bridge, 3 September 2006

Lung Leng: window to prehistoric time

Located on the left bank of the Po Co River, in Sa Binh Commune, Sa Thay District, Kon Tum Province, Lung Leng used to be a small gold mine. It was excavated in 1999 and 2001 on an area of 11,500 square meters and is one of Vietnam’s biggest-ever archaeological excavations.

In the second excavation archeologists found 20 relics with 14,552 stone objects, 224 pottery objects and 37 metal objects. 500 objects were sorted out into various collections of pottery, ornaments, Gong (cong chieng), alcohol jars, and ethnic costumes to be displayed in the HCM City Historical Museum. Many tools showing the indications of the Son Vi culture from the Paleolithic age were found in the Central Highlands for the first time.

Exhibition displays Central Highlands ancient artifacts

27 August 2006 (Viet Nam Net Bridge)

Exhibition displays Central Highlands ancient artifacts

The Vietnam Museum of History in Ho Chi Minh City, in coordination with the Kon Tum General Museum, opened an exhibition titled “Lung Leng – The Mystery of the Prehistoric Central Highlands” on August 26…

A collection of working tools from the paleolithic and neolithic eras, pottery and jewelry, trunk tombs, and many valuable photos and scientific documents on the Lung Leng site are also being displayed at the showroom, which will be open until November.

Shipwreck exhibition in Vietnam

An ongoing exhibition featuring shipwreck finds off the waters of Vietnam in the Can Tho Museum.

24 August 2006 (Viet Nam News) – An ongoing exhibition featuring shipwreck finds off the waters of Vietnam in the Can Tho Museum.

Viet Nam News, 24 August 2006

Exhibition of shipwreck relics begins in Can Tho Museum

An exhibition featuring 400 ancient relics salvaged from five shipwrecks off the Viet Nam coast opened at the Can Tho Museum on Tuesday.

Most of them are porcelain and pottery made in China, Thailand, and Viet Nam between the 15th and 18th centuries and are part of more than 500,000 items found aboard ancient vessels which had sunk off the Cham Island (Quang Nam Province), Dam Island (Kien Giang Province), Cau Island (Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province), Binh Thuan and Ca Mau provinces.

Perak Man is Back in Town

Guest blogger LIZ PRICE from cavesofmalaysia kindly gives us her review of the Perak Man exhibition now on at the Muzium Negara in Kuala Lumpur.

Guest blogger LIZ PRICE from cavesofmalaysia kindly gives us her review of the Perak Man exhibition now on at the Muzium Negara in Kuala Lumpur.

Perak Man Exhibition at Muzium Negara. Pix by Liz Price.

Perak Man is Back in Town

Malaysia’s oldest inhabitant, Perak Man is back in KL. There is a special exhibition dedicated to him at Muzium Negara as part of the “Festival Kuala Lumpur 2006″. Perak Man is an 11,000 year old human skeleton which was found in Gua Gunung Runtuh in Lenggong, Perak in May 1990. It is the only complete late Paleolithic skeleton to have been found and is an important piece of Malaysia’s prehistory.

The month long exhibition is designed to be informative in an entertaining way and it certainly works. As you enter the building which is constructed to represent the mouth of the Gua Gunung Runtuh, you are greeted by an animated talking skeleton.

Walking around takes you through a dark passage past a series of exhibits and tableaux depicting scenes from 10,000 years ago. The first one shows Perak Man on his death bed, surrounded by friends or relatives. Research shows he died from a severe tooth infection. At first I was a bit amused to see the skeletons move, and some had flashing red eyes. It’s great for the kids though.

Perak Man Exhibition at Muzium Negara. Pix by Liz Price.

Perak Man suffered from a rare congenital deformity but living amongst a close knit community meant he had people to care for him when he could no longer hunt or look after himself. Although he was only in his 40’s when he died, that was probably a good age for that era.

Perak Man has been dated at 10-11,000 years old. However evidence of human activity in the Lenggong Valley has been revealed dating back more than 100,000 years. This area could well have been the capital of Malaysia in those days.

The next scene shows the burial rites. It is suggested that Perak Man was an important member of his tribe as his burial was performed ceremonially. He was buried in a fetal position, with legs folded up to the chest, the right hand bent up towards the shoulder and the left hand on the abdomen. The body was placed in a 1 metre deep shallow grave running east to west, and perpendicular to the cave entrance.

Perak Man Exhibition at Muzium Negara. Pix by Liz Price.

For the researchers from Universiti Sains Malaysia, led by Prof. Dato Zuraina Majid, it was a dream come true that the Paleolithic burial was done so meticulously and was so well preserved. The skeleton was almost complete, except for some missing bones such as toes, ribs and parts of the face. Offerings of food such as meat and riverine shells were with the body, as well as 10 different types of tools. The tools could have been Perak Man’s own collection. As a final touch, 2878 shells were placed on and around the body.

There is a slide show in Bahasa Malaysia giving a brief outline of the discovery and showing the types of food eaten in those days. Perak Man and his relatives lived by subsistence activities, which means they were hunter gatherers. They hunted wild animals like wild boar, deer, mousedeer, leopard, monkeys, iguanas and tortoise. To supplement the meat diet they gathered plants and riverine shells for food and medicine. They used stone tools for their daily activities. Pebble tools were used for heavy duty work such as chopping trees, splitting bones and snipping the tips off shells. Flake tools were used to cut and scrape meat, and to sharpen wood and bone to make new tools. There is a display of stone tools and models of how they were used.

Further along is a selection of push button displays, but unfortunately the buttons were not working. The next section is devoted to research. There was analysis on the faunal remains, which gives some information on the animals eaten, the hunting skills, as well as the climate and environment. The bones and teeth were also studied. Perak Man went to Japan from 7 September to 24 November 1996. A display case houses a replica of Perak Man’s skeleton, the original is housed at the Lenggong Museum.

As you turn the corner you are invited to insert a card into a slot. Nothing happened then there was a rumbling sound and suddenly a motorbike driven by 2 modern skeletons drives towards you, with a background scene of modern KL. I’ve never seen so many mechanical talking skeletons outside of a fairground!

Perak Man Exhibition at the Muzium Negara. Pix by Liz Price

The last section houses half a dozen computers on which you can answer 20 questions relating to Perak man. The computers, as well all the film clips are only in Bahasa Malaysia, so the exhibition seems to be designed more for locals than for foreigners. Finally there is a feature on a new book “Perak Man and Other Prehistoric Skeletons of Malaysia”, edited by Zuraina Majid. The book is available for sale.

This exhibition is great for anyone interested in Malaysia’s prehistory and is guaranteed to grab the attention of kids with the animated skeletons and detailed tableaux. It is due to finish on 31st July but almost certainly will be extended until at least August 16th.

pictures and text by Liz Price
The exhibition is housed in Muzium Negara annexe.
Opening hours daily 9 am – 6 pm.
Admission is free
Car park is RM2

Related Books:
Prehistory of the Indo-Malaysian Archipelago by P. Bellwood
Southeast Asia: From Prehistory to History by P. S. Bellwood and I. Glover (Eds)

Prehistoric artifacts on display in Indonesia

Exhibition on prehistoric finds in and around Jakarta until end-July.

30 June 2006 (Jakarta Post) – Exhibition on prehistoric finds in and around Jakarta until end-July.

Prehistorical artifacts on display

A monthlong exhibition at the Jakarta History Museum, which opened Thursday, is showcasing prehistorical artifacts found during excavations in and around Jakarta.

The artifacts exhibited are mainly those found by archeologists from the Jakarta Culture and Museums Agency, the National Archeological Research Center and archaeology students at the University of Indonesia.


Related Books:
Ancient History (The Indonesian Heritage Series) by Indonesian Heritage

Cradle of an early civilisation (Malaysia)

Artifact trade, ceramics, Philip Greco, weaponry, looting


14 June 2006 (The Star Online) – A feature on the archaelogical features of Bujang Valley in Kedah, Malaysia.

Cradle of an early civilisation

The Bujang Valley in Kedah was the bustling centre of a rich and prosperous kingdom between the third and 12th century AD.

It was then known as Nusantara, a Sanskrit word which means ‘seat of all felicities.’

The area, which was also called Bujanga or ‘Valley of the Serpent’ was Southeast Asia’s central trading entreport which dealt with cargo brought by Arab, Chinese, Indian as well as maritime traders from the Malay archipelago.

[Tags]Buddhist culture, Bujang Valley Archaeological Museum, Bujang valley, Hindu Culture, candis, Nusanatara, Kedah[/tags]

Related Books:
Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, Vol. XXVIII, Pt. 1
Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic society, Vol. XLIII, Part 1
Arts of Southeast Asia (World of Art) by F. Kerlogue
Hindu-Buddhist Architecture in Southeast Asia (Studies in Asian Art and Archaeology, Vol 19) by D. Chihara