Binh Dinh's Cham towers proposed for world cultural heritage

The distinctive Duong Long Towers, where ongoing excavations are underway, are being proposed for addition into the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.

17 November 2006 (Vietnam Net Bridge) – The distinctive Duong Long Towers, where ongoing excavations are underway, are being proposed for addition into the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.

Vietnam Net Bridge, 17 Nov 2006

Binh Dinh’s Cham towers proposed for world cultural heritage

The Cham towers are unique religious architecture of Cham people. Binh Dinh has eight groups of Cham towers. Those towers are treasuries of history, culture and architecture for researchers to learn about the Vijaya areas in the ancient time and Binh Dinh at present.

Among Cham towers built in the central region, the architecture style of Cham towers in Binh Dinh is always praised by researchers. In 1942, Ph. Stern ranked the architectural style of Cham towers in Binh Dinh at the sixth level in seven styles and one of the most popular styles from the 12th to the 14th centuries.

The pre-colonial Bisayan practice of skull moulding

17 November 2006 (The News Today) – Henry F. Funtecha writes another article about the early Bisayans and talks about their skull moulding practices and how they appear in the archaeological record.

The pre-colonial Bisayan practice of skull moulding Before the Spanish colonization of the Philippines, the Bisayans practiced skull moulding as a way of enhancing one’s beauty. As mothers and midwives are well aware, the skulls of newborn infants are so soft if they are continuously laid on the same side, their head become flat on that side. Many societies have taken advantage of this reality in order to provide their children a skull shape which conforms to the local tenets of beauty. … How do present scholars know that the early Bisayans practiced skull moulding? Archaeological diggings in burial sites in Cebu, Samar, Bohol and other places in the Philippines had turned out dozens of skulls that clearly show the physical effects of moulding or binding. This writer himself had seen at the Aga Khan Museum at the Mindanao State University in Marawi City in 1992 two complete skeletons that were discovered in Butuan grave site showing reshaped skulls with black teeth filed to points.

Ancient bronze drum found in Vietnam

The surface of a Dong Son style drum has been found in the Phu Yen province of Vietnam.

17 November 2006 (Thanh Nien News) – The surface of a Dong Son style drum has been found in the Phu Yen province of Vietnam.

Thanh Nien News, 17 Nov 2006

Ancient bronze drum found in Vietnam

Director of the provincial museum, Phan Dinh Phung, identified the drum Thursday as belonging to the Dong Son Culture (1000 BCE-200 CE) based in its design and vignettes.

Selections, November 2006

A selection of archaeology-related books, new to the catalogue of Select Books, a specialised publisher and retailer of books pertaining to Southeast Asia. For ordering info, please visit the Select Books website.

010657
Chinese Potter, The: A Practical History Of Chinese Ceramics (Reprinted 2006). Medley, Margaret. Gb. 1989. 288pp. pb $55.65 (China has the longest and most highly developed ceramic tradition in the world, encompassing early Neolithic earthenwares, the finely glazed stoneware pieces of the Song period – widely regarded as among the greatest ceramics ever produced – and the years of Imperial patronage and export ware for the new markets of the West. Margaret Medley’s groundbreaking study was the first to bring a practical approach to the study of Chinese pottery. She makes full use of archaeological reports to show how differing geographical areas, materials and developing technology all shaped the evolution of Chinese ceramics. Her revolutionary insights, along with an astute critical judgement in the field of art history itself, combine to form a classic but approachable account which has profoundly influenced the way in which Chinese pottery is studied. First published in 1976, this is the fourth and latest reprint of the revised third edition that was issued in 1989.)

040222
Message & The Monsoon, The: Islamic Art Of Southeast Asia. De Guise, Lucien (ed.) My. 2005. 237pp. hc $65.10 (It was Marco Polo who said, “It takes ships from China a whole year for the voyage to Southeast Asia, going in winter and returning in the summer. For in that sea there are but two winds that blow, the one that carries them outward and the other that brings them homeward; and the one of these winds blows all winter, and the other all the summer.” The monsoon winds were of vital importance to Southeast Asia in the age of sail. These winds brought with them more than just traders from China, India and Arabia. They also introduced Islam into the region. Southeast Asia became part of the most important mercantile network the world had ever seen until the 20th century. As a result, there is an astonishing accumulation of wealth and art to be found here, from Aceh in the west of the Malay Archipelago to Mindanao in the east. This catalogue is published in conjunction with the July 2005 exhibition of the same name at the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia. It features a comprehensive selection of Islamic artefacts that embodies the Muslim contribution to Southeast Asia. More than 150 artefacts dating from the 15th to 20th century, including manuscripts, textiles, arms, woodwork, metalwork and coinage, offer an opportunity to examine the evolution of a unique culture, one that fuses Islamic principles with indigenous customs. With notes, bibliography and glossary.)

038935
Restoration Of Borobudur, The. Unesco. Fr. 2005. 288pp. hc $115.00 (Although the construction of Java’s Borobudur temples took many centuries, parts probably date from about 800CE. Both Buddhist and Hindu traditions are incorporated in the extensive terraced buildings. In the mid-20th century following great alarm about decay at the site, a UNESCO restoration project was initiated with support from 27 nations. This volume traces the temple’s history and the course and methods of the UNESCO reconstruction and Borobudur’s 1991 recognition as a World Heritage Site. Sketches, photographs, diagrams and much technical data shed light on the immensity of the work done in one of the most important restoration efforts of the last century. With bibliography, glossary and index.)

Bagan: beautified or sacrificed?

The restoration of Bagan using modern tools and materials risk turning it into another “Disneyland”.

12 November 2006 (a Reuters story, seen on CNN) – The restoration of Bagan using modern tools and materials risk turning it into another “Disneyland”.

Bagan: beautified or sacrificed?

Restorations are not new to Bagan, a victim of many floods, fires and earthquakes over the centuries.

A severe 1975 quake destroyed or damaged scores of clay brick and mud buildings and stunning wall murals some say are Bagan’s greatest treasure.

The junta allowed UNESCO experts in to help, but it later ignored the U.N. culture agency’s recommendations for World Heritage status, which would have required a conservation plan and unwanted international scrutiny.

After UNESCO withdrew in the mid-1990s, the generals launched their own restoration drive and solicited donations from wealthy Burmese and merit-seeking Buddhists from across Asia in pursuit of their own temple for the next life.

“They just wanted it to look beautiful,” said Gustaaf Houtman, editor of UK-based magazine Anthropology Today, who believes it is part of a wider campaign to rewrite history.

“Generals sponsored the renovation of a pagoda as a merit-making exercise, as a way of demonstrating to the whole of Burma, and to the world, that they were in control,” he said.

A forthcoming study by Australian archaeologist Bob Hudson says 650 complete buildings have had major repairs — including new spires, roofs or corners — since 1996.


Related Books:
Ancient Pagan by D. Stadtner
Bagan by B. Broman
Cultural Sites of Burma, Thailand, and Cambodia b. J. Dumarcay and M. Smithies

A new podcast page

I’ve just finished the second SEAArch podcast, but it won’t be uploaded for another day or two. After trying out several alternatives to host my media – as much as I want to, I don’t have a budget to pay for bandwidth and/or a dedicated server – so I’ve decided to create a site just devoted to the SEAArch podcasts. The podcast site, http://seaarch.podbean.com, has a pretty decent space and bandwidth limit for podcasters with limited budgets (ie: me). You’ll find the actual video and audio recordings there, but I’ll also post the podcast transcripts and any accompanying pictures on this both this and the podbean site.

Stay tuned – the second episode of the SEAArch podcast (on the Lenggong Archaeological Museum and the Perak Man) will be up in a few days. =)

Is it the footprint of Bigfoot or jumbo?

I’m not even sure why I’m posting this, since this post has nothing to do with Southeast Asian Archaeology anymore. But since we’ve followed this story from a time when such a theory might have been plausible, we’ll just follow it out of morbid curiousity. My take? My money’s on a two-legged elephant…

10 November 2006 (New Straits Times) – In the words of Liz Price, “Oh no… not again…” I’m not even sure why I’m posting this, since this post has nothing to do with Southeast Asian Archaeology anymore. But since we’ve followed this story from a time when such a theory might have been plausible, we’ll just follow it out of morbid curiousity. My take? My money’s on a two-legged elephant…

New Straits Times, 10 Nov 2006

Is it the footprint of Bigfoot or jumbo?

Loud noises and the breaking of branches at a rubber plantation in Kampung Batu 4, about three kilometres from the Kota Tinggi waterfall on Monday night, have fuelled interest again in the creature.

Marozan had ventured into the secondary jungle behind the kongsi with a group of youths to investigate the source of the disturbance.

“We found large footprints measuring about 45cm long. The pair of footprints had a stride of about a metre apart. This indicates that a large bi-pedal creature had moved around here. There are twigs and leaves broken off from trees from a height of more than two metres.”

Teeth re-structuring of the early Bisayans

Henry F. Funtecha writes about dental decoration practices of the pre-hispanic Bisayans in the Philippines.

10 November 2006 (The News Today) – Henry F. Funtecha writes about dental decoration practices of the pre-hispanic Bisayans in the Philippines. Makes you wonder how their teeth show up on the archaeological record, eh?

Teeth re-structuring of the early Bisayans

The pre-Spanish Bisayans practiced what is called decorative dentistry. They leveled their teeth through filing by the use of a slender stone filed performed by an expert. Sometimes half the tooth was removed in the process. Variations included opening the space in between the teeth, or grinding them to saw-tooth points, depending upon the preference of the owner. Whatever the style was, the desired effect was always to render the teeth even and symmetrical, as well as colored.

The most impressive examples of Bisayan dentistry were its gold work. Archaeological works had brought out plenty of specimens on this aspect, including those in Pansy Island. This gold work consisted of inlays, crowns or plating performed by a dental worker who got paid for his professional services. Generally, this profession was handed down from father to son, and down through the generations.

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

New discoveries at Duong Long towers

Bas-reliefs are uncovered at the base of the Duong Long towers, along with other finds including pottery.

10 November 2006 (Vietnam Net Bridge) – Bas-reliefs are uncovered at the base of the Duong Long towers, along with other finds including pottery.

Vietnam Net Bridge, 10 Nov 2006

New discoveries at Duong Long towers

Archeologists digging around the base of the three mighty Duong Long towers in Binh Dinh Province have greatly expanded their knowledge of the ancient Champa people. In the second excavation by the provincial museum, the archeologists found more than 1,000 bas-reliefs, pieces of pottery and other objects. They are yet to be classified.

The experts guess that the three towers together had entombed someone important since, to the modern-day Cham people, a tower was often the crematorium for a deceased Champa monarch. Several half-finished structures and bas-reliefs were found at the base of the two minor towers. Dr. Dinh Ba Hoa from the Binh Dinh Museum suggests the work was interrupted because the Champa king met with some problems.