A PAIR OF STONE PIGS IN THE COLLECTION OF ARTIFACTS FROM THE NINH SON ANCIENT TOMB AT HANOI MUSEUM
In 1976, the Ninh Son tomb site (Ngoc Son commune, currently in Chuc Son town, Chuong My district, Hanoi) was discovered by chance during road construction. Then, the Ha Son Binh Department of Culture and Information conducted the excavation/ excavated.
The Ninh Son ancient tomb site is a cluster of six tombs made of bricks. During the excavation in 1976, 174 important artifacts were discovered. These included 59 stone artifacts, 53 ceramic artifacts, 38 bronze artifacts, 13 iron artifacts and 1 glass artifact.
Among these, we pay special attention to a pair of stone pigs from tomb No.5.
These two pig statues are quite small at 5.5 cm long; 2 cm high and 1.2cm thick. The stone is grey-white, and we do not know what kind of stone it is. The pigs are shaped in lying positions with all four legs trimmed and their hooves folded, facing forward. The bodies of the pigs are polished smoothly. The eyes, ears, and tails are clearly depicted by engravings. At the muzzles, there are two drilled holes that form very delicate and vivid nostrils.
In the centre of the body, close to the front thigh, there is a 0.2 cm round hole. We think this is the hole for threading the strap, like a piece of jewelry.
According to the history of animal domestication, dogs were the first species to be domesticated. In 1983, Vietnamese Archaeology discovered a statue of a dog walker when excavating the Phu Luong site (Van Noi village, Phu Luong commune, Ha Dong district, Hanoi). The dating of this site was determined to last from the III - II centuries BC to the I - II centuries AD.
However, apart from the remains, perhaps archaeology has not made any discoveries about pigs.
According to Wikipedia: Pigs "were domesticated in various locations such as India, Baltic, Siberia, Alps, and Southeast Asia, including Vietnam. Domestic pigs, scientifically known as Sus scrofa domesticus, were domesticated around 9000 BC..."
Since ancient times, humans have often selected animals that are easy to domesticate, reproduce well, and have high value after being raised. There are about 6 basic criteria for domesticating a species.
1- Omnivorous. The species can eat many different things, and their food source must be easy to find.
2- Fast growth. At least faster than humans. As only by growing fast and maturing early, they can serve the purposes (food and labor) of people.
3- Fecund. It must be fertile in captivity and quickly bred in the process of domestication.
4- Gentle. It must be friendly to the surrounding environment, gentle, and docile.
5- Calm. It must not be inclined to panic and run away when startled. It must also be bold and not afraid of humans.
6- Submissive. Easily accepting man as the master.
Apparently, pig fulfils all the requirements. In addition to being raised as a food supply, even in the first civilizations, humans also used pig skins for shields, bones for tools and weapons, and hair for brushes.
However, please note that these stone pigs have holes for threading straps as pieces of jewelry.
"In Vietnamese folklore, the pig is represented through Dong Ho folk paintings. The images of the pig appear on the family wall calendar to show fullness, prosperity, and happiness. The pig in the traditional cultural concept belongs to the gentle Yin line, giving birth to a full herd, so the element of prosperity is emphasized in folk paintings, wishing the New Year a lot of luck, happiness, and wealth. The pig painting is a symbol of affluence, satiety, and prosperity. On the body of the pig, there is a Yin-Yang ring that implies development and proliferation."
The cultural significance of the pig statues is both clear and very vague. However, it may be worth mentioning that around the end of the last century, Vietnamese pot belly pigs were kept as pets in the United States and many other countries.
Currently, the Hanoi Museum has only statistics and a background on the collection of Ninh Son ancient tomb artifacts. No other documents are available.
The chronology of the artifacts in this collection of "Han tombs" is quite extensive: Dong Son crossbow triggers, pottery chicken-head ewer (4th century AD), Han bronze mirrors.
Dong Son crossbow trigger
Pottery chicken-head ewer, (4th century AD)
Han bronze mirror
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