Lecture at the Siam Society, Bangkok on 1 November 2018.
DATE: Thursday, 1 November 2018
TIME: 7:00 p.m.
PLACE: The Siam Society, 131 Asoke Montri Rd, Sukhumvit 21
The Bronze Age produced revolutionary innovations like the drums, stronger and more sonorous than their wooden and skin predecessors. They created new rites and bestowed on their owners a prestige even in the afterlife. On their drumhead (tympanum) and their cylindrical base, the drums were engraved with decorations open to interpretation, including the iconic frogs deemed to control the rain. Southeast Asian communities bestowed a new mission on the drums, not only as a source of sound but also to evoke values deemed crucial for everyday life or for the afterlife, from the steppes to the tropics. From inception to the present, the evolution of bronze drums spans around 2,500 years. Rituals have been conducted in their presence, from modern south China and Vietnam to Indonesia, including Indochina and Thailand. Bronze, an alloy resistant to corrosion, elevated the status of these objects from simple pots to valuable masterpieces of creativity, at the crossroads of spiritual and commercial values. They belong to the treasures of humanity, housed within museums around the world and still used at solemn ceremonies, including the funeral rites in October 2017 of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej. In my talk, I will trace the evolution of bronze drums across centuries and Southeast Asian cultures, in Cambodia, China, Laos, Indonesia/Bali, Malaysia, Myanmar/Burma, Thailand and Vietnam.
A hint into the potential archaeology from East Timor – the discovery of a bronze Dong Son drum in Baucau. There have been several such drums found in East Timor now, and similar drums turn up all over Southeast Asia which suggests a rather extensive exchange network of either goods or expertise across the region 2,000 years ago.
Source: Viet Nam Net 20151203
Vietnam’s ancient Dong Son drum found in Timor Leste
Viet Nam Net, 03 december 2015
A relatively intact bronze drum believed to belong to the Dong Son culture, originating in Vietnam over 2,000 years ago, has recently been discovered in Timor Leste.
The drum, 1.03 metres in diameter, 78 cm in height, and 80kg in weight, was found accidentally at a construction site in Baucau, the second largest city in Timor Leste, in late 2014. However, official information was just released in late November this year after researchers had conducted preliminary assessment.
Archaeologist Nuno Vasco Oliveira from the Timor Lester Government’s General Directorate of Art and Culture said he is certain that the item is a Dong Son bronze drum – an icon of the Dong Son culture (700 B.C. – 100 AD) of the ancient Vietnamese people.
This is not the first time a Dong Son drum has been found in Timor Leste. The ones previously unearthed were badly damaged while the newly found item is in a relatively good condition.
Full story here.
A feature on a Vietnamese bronze caster who still makes bronze drums today.
Source: Thanh Nien News 20140306
The present echo of an ancient drum
Thanh Nien News, 06 March 2014
Two ancient bronze drums were found in Vietnam’s central Quang Nam province.
Taken from Vietnam: From Myth to Modernity
Ancient bronze drums found in Quang Nam
Nhan Dan, 14 feb 2009
Because of all the holiday traveling (Christmas, New Year, and Chinese New Year) and fieldwork, it’s been nearly two months since the last time I posted a rojak. I’ve got quite a fair bit collected over the last few weeks, so without further ado, here are some of the interesting blogs and stories about archaeology and Southeast Asia, the first for the year.
photo credit: travlinman43
An ancient bronze drum is discovered in the Lam Dong province of Vietnam, along with the largest ever lithophone discovered in the country.
2,000-year-old bronze drum unearthed
VietnamNet Bridge, 04 July 2008
13 September 2007 (Thanh Nien News) – Besides mentioning the three cannons posted yesterday, other finds mentioned here include a bas-relief of a naga, a snake-deity in Hindu mythology, and a bronze Dong Son drum.
More relics found in central Vietnam
Several historical artifacts â€“ including guns, bas-reliefs and a bronze drum â€“ have been unearthed in three provinces on Vietnamâ€™s central coast.
Local residents in Thua Thien-Hue province have recently discovered three guns at the site of the ancient Hoa Chau citadel in Quang Thanh commune, Quang Dien district.
06 August 2008 (Vietnam Net Bridge) – This piece of alarming news comes from the Dak Lak province, where Dong Son drums have been recently discovered, and how as many of 50 of them have been illegally excavated and smuggled out.
Many ancient bronze drums being illegally excavated
In the past four months, 50 bronze drums have been unearthed and transported illegally out Krong Nang district in Dak Lak province, said doctor Tran Quy Thinh from the Vietnam Archeological Institute.
Of these, the only one that is yet to be sold is at present being kept by Nguyen Thi Dieu from Xuan Vinh commune. Ms. Dieu has asked Dak Lak Museum for VND100million (US$6,000) for the ancient drum.
The drum, which was discovered in Ms. Dieuâ€™s garden, is a Dong Son Drum Type 1, which dates back 2,200 years. The surfaceâ€™s diameter is 65 cm, and the diameter of the bottom is 67 cm.
This is considered the most intact of all the ancient bronze drums that have been discovered in the Central Highlands of Dak Lak so far. Archeologists have recently restored another smaller Type 1 bronze drum found in the district of Krong Pack, where other 3,000-year-old artifacts have also been discovered.
More information about Dong Son drums can be found in:
– The Bronze Age of Southeast Asia (Cambridge World Archaeology) by C. Higham
– Dong Son Drums in Viet Nam
– Bronze Dong Son Drums by Ha Thuc Can