Accepted paper:

Aspects of the iconography of Dong Son drums: a sino-vietnamese conflict?


Pierre Baptiste (Musée Guimet)

Paper short abstract:

The aim of this paper is to dismantle the nationalist vision which prevailed in the study of the bronze drums unearthed in North Vietnam or South China and to try to link their iconography to specific traditions.

Paper long abstract:

Since their discovery and study in late 19th century, the bronze drums unearthed in North Vietnam or South China have been studied from different points of view, many of which linked to a nationalist vision. While Vietnamese archaeologists and historians consider these objects as the parangon of the pre-Chinese Dong Son culture, Chinese specialists tend to locate their birth and rise in nowadays Yunnan province. In the last 50 years, many books and studies, published on either sides of the border, developed many convincing ways of arguing in this matter. A close study of the decoration of some of the most ancient examples, bearing depictions of human beings, architectures, musical instruments and ritualistic scenes helps to understand their relationship not only with Southeast Asian culture - as it was convincingly done long time ago by Victor Goloubew or Louis Bezacier - but also with some aspects of original and ancient Chinese iconography.

panel P32
The archaeology of contact between China and Southeast Asia between the mid-1st millennium BC and the mid-1st millennium AD