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Through Indonesian glass shines new light

Update: December, 09/2014 - 08:13
Colour spectrum: The glass painting by Sulasno, Story of Peasant Joko Tarub, is one of the exhibits on disaply. It tells the story of Joko Tarub, who married the moon goddess by hiding her dress when she bathed in a stream on earth. Later, after finding the dress, she flew back to the sky.

HA NOI (VNS) — The Viet Nam Museum of Ethnology on Saturday debuted an exhibition of Indonesian glass paintings donated by Rosalia Sciortino of Italy, and her late Indonesian husband, O'ong Maryono.

The museum divided the paintings, all framed with wood, into five sections based on themes from Indonesian culture and daily life: customs, lifestyle, thinking, performance art and the country's different nationalities. The exhibition will run permanently on the second floor of the Southeast Asian Museum in the Museum of Ethnology on Nguyen Van Huyen Road in Ha Noi's Cau Giay District.

Sciortino and Maryono donated 68 of their more than 300 paintings collected over nearly 30 years. Sciortino said she hopes the rest of their collection will be displayed in Indonesia.

"My husband and I feel it is important to donate part of our collection to the museum, because we share the same values," Sciortino said on Saturday at the exhibition's opening ceremony.

Sciortino proposed the idea several years ago, and the museum promised it would display the collection in a spare permanent room, she said.

The art of glass painting originated in Europe, and was introduced to Indonesia in the early 20th century, according to a museum press release.

"Less and less people do glass painting because it is so costly," she said. "The paintings are very fragile, so if they are not kept properly, they could be damaged."

The exhibit reflects Indonesian history, culture, and society with bright, lively colours. The stories told in the paintings share some similarities with Vietnamese culture – namely their use of fairy tales, praise of historical characters and heroes, and humor using clowns.

"My husband is dead now, so this collection has become very important for me because it is the symbol of our passion together for arts and culture," she said. "Glass paintings are found in eastern Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia, but I'd say the richest collection of glass paintings in Southeast Asia is in Indonesia."

Heritage and culture

Le Thi Minh Ly, a member of the National Heritage Council, said she respected the fact that Sciortino shared her and her husband's collection with the public, instead of keeping it to themselves.

"They decided to give it to Viet Nam so Vietnamese people can experience and learn about the cultural values of another nation, and find the similarities and differences between the two cultures," she said.

The display compares Vietnamese culture with that of another Asian country, showing the diverse, yet connected nature of the region, said Nguyen Duy Thieu, deputy head of the museum.

"ASEAN is building up a community with three pillars – social, cultural and economic," Thieu said. "As a State-owned museum, we would like to demonstrate that Viet Nam is a responsible member, sharing and preserving regional cultural values." — VNS

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