Wednesday, 22 Nov 2017

100 Artifacts Tell the Grandiose Tale of the Sacred Land

Updated at Thursday, 22 Jun 2017, 14:06
The Hanoitimes - One hundred artifacts including red-painted and gilt wooden worshipping objects and statues, some dated from Dong Son culture 2000 years ago, are on display in the National Museum of History starting from June 20, 2017.
The First  Large Scale Exhibition

“Currently, the museum has conserved a collection of painted and gilt wooden furniture, diverse in qualities, kinds, and dates. Those artifacts were found during the process of unearthing graves from Dong Son era in Viet Khe, Xuan La, Minh Duc, Chau Son and some other places. Other  artifacts were found in graves or places of worship dating from the Le and Nguyen dynasties,” said Nguyen Van Cuong, Curator of the National Museum of History.


The fifty religious and worshipping artifacts required the staff of the National Museum of History, hundreds of provincial museums workers  and private collectors thorough  analysis and patterns comparison  to identify the date of each of the artifacts. They also have to take care of every small crack in order to preserve the historical objects. In reality, some relics on display have been showcased   in small scale exhibitions  at museums in Lang Son and Ha Nam provinces, and the Vietnamese Culture and Arts Exhibition Center. However, “this exhibition is the first large scale to make an overall presentation of  red painted  and gold gilt  wood objects”, Cuong said.
Wooden objects of  hundred years of age on display at the exhibition

The exhibition displays  unique relics belonging to  the group God altar, including incense burner, tablets, ordinances, vases, box of royal decree, wood panels. The group of worshipping relics devoting to ancestors include incense burners, ancestral tablets, flowerpots, vases, box of royal decree.

The exhibition room also exhibits photos, paintings and tools  for  gold-gilding  or wood-painting craft such as chisel, hammer, paint and broom. 

Besides the gilt and red painted artifacts collection of the National Museum of History, the exhibition also screens  video clips and  documentaries about traditional craft villages specializing in laquered and gilt wood such as Kieu Ky or  Son Dong village.

Some typical gilt wood works and at the same time national treasures including the  statues of Guanyin of Thousand Arms and Ahousand Eyes of  But Thap Temple, the relief of the Nation Founding Father Lac Long Quan in Noi temple, Binh Da village are  on display as well.

“Vietnamese wooden  heritages were severely damaged at the beginning of the 20th century”, said Dang Van Bai, former Director of the Department of Cultural Heritage. Facing the risk of vanishing, Bai  sought the United States’ support through the Ambassadors Fund  for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) in terms of finance and restoration technology. 

In 5 years, a total of 06 projects were financed.“Thanks to the AFCP support, two invaluable lacquered paintings have been restored at Vietnam Fine Art Museum. Especially, AFCP has provided USD$21,000 for the restoration and maintenance of 70 traditional gilt wood objects at the Vietnam National Museum of History. Without this support, there will be hardly any significant exhibitions like this one in June 2017” Bai said.
For every object, there is a story to tell, to show a glimpse of the past and to send messages to the next generations about the thriving vitality of traditional craftsmanship, its ups and down and the threats of destruction to traditional values, which have now been restored and further developed.

According to experts at Vietnam National Museum of History, woodcarving and gilt wood works are valuable cultural heritage of Vietnam. The volume of these objects are very large and diverse. However, with the average humidity of above 80%, a majority of these have been severely damaged.
Ngoc Thuy
(Linh Anh -
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