NATIONAL TREASURES AT HANOI MUSEUM
A national treasure is an artifact of special value related to a great event of the country, the career of a national hero or celebrity, a famous work of art (with ideological, humanistic and aesthetic values representing a trend, a style, or an era) or products that are inventions with high practical value and have the effect of promoting the development of society at a certain historical period. These are protected and preserved by the Government of Vietnam in a special mode. The recognition of national treasures is decided by the Prime Minister after obtaining appraisal opinions from the National Council of Cultural Heritage.
The Hanoi Museum is conserving four groups of artifacts (total of 24 objects) which have been recognized as National Treasures according to Decision No. 53/QD-TTg dated January 14th, 2015 and Decision No. 2382/QD-TTg dated December 25th, 2015 as follows:
1. The Co Loa bronze drum and the collection of bronze plowshares (Dong Son culture, 2500 - 2000 years ago).
Facade of Co Loa bronze drum
Top side of heart-shaped plowshare
The Co Loa bronze drum and the collection of bronze plowshares inside the drum were found in the Ma Tre site, Cho village, Co Loa commune. This is located southwest of the South Gate of Co Loa citadel, in between Thanh Trung (the middle rampant) and Thanh Noi (the innermost rampant). On July 14th, 1982, the People's Committee of Co Loa commune handed them over to the Hanoi Museum for preservation and display.
The Co Loa drum is large in size and intact. The dimensions are: length 58.5cm; width 74cm; height 89.5cm and weight 72kg. In the middle of the drum surface is a 14-pointed star, interspersed with peacock feather motifs. Taking the star as the center, there are 15 pattern rings from the inside. The drum is also decorated with geometric patterns including the drum surface which has short parallel lines, tangential middle dotted circles and embossed dots. The main pattern on the drum is the shape of 6 boats and one paddle in a counter-clockwise direction. The body of the drum is divided into 8 rectangular cells and each box is decorated with a person wearing a costume and holding a spear. On the body of the drum decorated with a boat, a person is holding a weapon and has a geometric pattern. The base is not decorated with patterns. There is also a row of Chinese characters engraved inside the edge of the drum base.
The bronze plowshare is one of the typical and unique antiquities of Dong Son culture. The plowshares, in large numbers, found inside the Co Loa drum is a sure proof that the ancient Hanoians knew how to plow the fields and may have known how to use animals to pull the plow.
2. Thanh Mai Bell made in 798.
Thanh Mai bell was accidentally found by a local resident in Bai Rong site, Phu An hamlet, My Duong village, Thanh Mai commune, Thanh Oai district, Hanoi in 1986. The bell is one of the 10 records of Buddhist culture in Vietnam and in 2006 it was recognized as the oldest bronze bell of Vietnam by the Ho Chi Minh City Buddhist Association and the Vietnam Record Book Center.
The characters inscribed on the bell reveal that the bell was cast on March 20th (Lunar calendar) of the year of the Tiger, regnal year of Trinh Nguyen 14 (798).
The Thanh Mai bell includes a dragon-shaped handle, a band of raised double lotus-petals and a band of raised round - tips on the top, which demonstrate the peak of sculptural and bronze-casting arts at that time.
On the bell, there are approximately 1,530 Chinese characters inscribed in 8 cells, which serve as an authentic historical source with special significance for the research into Vietnamese Buddhism in the 8th century. In addition, the characters reveal many administrative locations, some mandarin titles and information of Vietnamese measurement units at that time.
3. The grayish-blue glazed ceramic lampstand of the talented potter Dang Huyen Thong.
Facade of grayish-blue glazed ceramic lampstand
Engraved with an epigraph of Dang Huyen Thong
The ceramic lampstand was made in the 5th year of Dien Thanh reign (1582) of the King Mac Mau Hop by the talented potter Dang Huyen Thong. The lampstand was made with two separate parts and assembled into one after that. It was made with grayish-blue glaze, decorated with many themes: a dragon in saddle shape, a dragon in circle shape, bodhi-leaves, lotus petals, parallel marks, and serrated designs. On the shoulder of the lampstand is embossed the Chinese characters "Long live the king, the world is peaceful". The inscriptions with 28 lines of Chinese characters are all embossed and engraved, then glazed with enamel. They include his name, his hometown, the time of creation, the names of the people who ordered it and when the pagoda was donated.
4. Long đình (a royal palace-like miniature) from the 17th century.
Facade of Long đình (a royal palace-like miniature)
Long đình is a special type of worshiping ceramics. The form of Long đình is very rare and it was made in the 17th century by an artisan of Bat Trang village, Hanoi. It consists of 3 parts: roof, body and base. They demonstrate a delicate combination of the techniques of application or attachment without glaze as well as the use of blue and green colors for creation of “three - color” ceramics. The embossed decorative patterns of reliefs include: lotus, chrysanthemum, leaf, dragon, Nghê (mythetic lion) and cloud. Long đình is a special valuable artifact, contributing to the research of the history of ceramics.
Preserving and promoting the effectiveness of National Treasures:
From 2015 to now, the national treasures have been displayed many times to serve the public:
1. National treasures exhibition from August 2015 to November 2017.
2. Thang Long-Hanoi national treasures exhibition, celebrating Vietnam Cultural Heritage Day 2017, from November 2017 to August 25th, 2018.
3. National treasures exhibition from March 2018 to July 2018.
4. Photo exhibition: Typical cultural heritages of Thang Long - Hanoi at Hanoi Flagpole in Ca Mau.
In the permanent display of the Hanoi Museum, the above national treasures are also selected as the highlights of the display for easy recognition and access by the public.
In addition, the Hanoi Museum cooperates with units under the Hanoi Department of Culture and Sports to publish a number of publications about Hanoi's national treasures in order to introduce and promote national treasures to the public.
The National Treasures are preserved by the Hanoi Museum utilising a special storage facility and the best preservation environment and equipment. Leading preservation experts in the field of artifacts are involved in seeking the best preservation solutions for this group of National Treasures.
Lê Thị Kim Tước