PHU CUONG DRUM BASIN
In March 1960, workers were constructing dikes in the Phu Cuong commune (Ba Vi) when they accidentally found a drum basin. Three artefacts were found, including two drum basins and one bronze bowl. On April 16, 1979, about 20 years after the discovery, the Ha Son Binh Department of Culture handed it over to the Ha Tay Museum, now known as the Hanoi Museum, for preservation. The drum basin with two fish-themed decorations is the most unique of the discovered artefacts.
The drum basin, made from copper, is quite large: the diameter at the mouth is 44cm, the diameter of the base is 30cm, the height is 15.3cm, and the weight is 3.9kg. The mouth's rim was broken but restored to its original shape. Following expert opinion, the drum basin dates to the 1st to 3rd centuries. It is a unique artefact because of its name, form, pattern and function.
The drum basin is shaped like a bronze drum when placed face down. In the middle of the drum's base is an 8-pointed star, followed by two raised rings surrounding the star. The highlight of the drum is the etching on the drum's body; two bands of stylized peacock feather patterns are separated by three raised and embossed ridges running around the drum. The drum's surface has rusted, and the decorative motifs have faded. The top part of the drum's body has a taper, with a hidden line running around the body and two small 1.5cm points symmetrically on both sides. The mouth of the drum is plain and unadorned.
When placed face up, the drum basin is shaped like a basin with a convex curved base and a rim around the mouth that is tilted outward. The body is plain, without decoration. In particular, the inside of the drum basin has two embossed fish. The pair of fish swim together towards the drum basin's centre. The fish are a simple shape using an embossing technique: they have round eyes, gills, scales and fins, and the tail has been blurred. In folk culture, fish have symbolic meaning, associated with water and abundance. According to Eastern beliefs, the fish is an animal of good omen. Many species of fish live for a long time, so fish are also associated with a symbol of longevity. Fish in Chinese is called "ngư" (fish), which is the same sound as "dư" (abundance), so fish symbolizes abundance. The fish shape also symbolizes happiness, togetherness, and joy. That's why everyone always loves decorative fish shapes. In ancient times, drum basins were believed to be used in important rituals and events or as a gift to couples on their wedding day.
Over half a century since its discovery, the drum basin is now preserved and promoting its value at the Hanoi Museum. The artefacts are periodically preserved and are unique among those selected for display to introduce to the public.
Patterns on the body of the drum basin
A pair of fish in the drum basin