Đông Sơn bronze drum highlighted at German exhibition

July 18, 2022 - 16:03

The Đông Sơn bronze drum, the earliest bronze drum to have been found in Việt Nam, is going on display as part of the World of Sky Discs Exhibition in Germany. 


A model of Đông Sơn bronze drum on display at the World Sky Discs Exhibition in Germany. VNA/VNS Photo

BERLIN – The Đông Sơn bronze drum, the earliest bronze drum to have been found in Việt Nam, is going on display as part of the World of Sky Discs Exhibition in Germany. 

The exhibition is hosted by two archaeologists, Dr Dominique Görlitz and Dr Kai Helge Wirth, in Pfannerhall Braunsbedra in the state of Sachsen Anhalt. It aims to present to the public more information about 'Sky Discs', a discovery important not only to archaeology but also to astronomy and the history of religions.

According to the German archaeologists, the Vietnamese Đông Sơn bronze drum, dating back to the Bronze Age, shares various information and similarities with many famous discs found elsewhere around the world, including the 'Nebra Sky Disc', an ancient object thought to be the world’s oldest prehistoric map of the stars created in Germany around 1670 B.C. 

The disc illustrates vital aspects of the sun, the moon, including the crescent and full moon, and the stars.

Through their decades-long cooperation, Görlitz and Wirth provided visitors with a glimpse of not only ancient astronomy but also the Bronze Age. The use of new image science methods has also led to ground-breaking discoveries of sky discs.

One of the very interesting scientific discoveries is that the bronze drum also shows the ancient Vietnamese calendar, with a 12-pointed star corresponding to the 12 months of the year.

The Đông Sơn bronze drums, with their unique cultural and historical features, always attract the attention of Vietnamese and international experts, researchers, and archaeologists.

Speaking at the launch of the event on Friday, Nguyễn Thu Hằng, Second Secretary at the Embassy of Việt Nam in Germany, thanked Görlitz and Wirth for offering the public useful information about astronomy and worldview from new perspectives.

Hằng said she was proud to see Việt Nam’s Đông Sơn bronze drum introduced at a German exhibition in such a unique way.

More than 500 Đông Sơn bronze drums have been so far found across Việt Nam and are being on display in many museums.

The drums are vivid historical pictures showing cultural life, beliefs, agricultural activities and the fine art of bronze casting of the ancient Vietnamese.

The typical motifs are often about the sun, traditional stilt houses, birds (especially the phoenix), farmers working in the fields, cattle raising, hunting, fishing and dancing.

Đông Sơn Culture (dated from the 7th century BC to the 2nd century AD) was a Metal Age in ancient Việt Nam. It was named by archaeologists after the Đông Sơn Village on the banks of Mã River in the northern central province of Thanh Hóa, where a number of bronze items were accidentally discovered in 1924.

The Đông Sơn bronze drums (also called Heger Type 1 drums according to F. Heger's classification) are bronze drums fabricated by the Đông Sơn Culture and one of the finest examples of Vietnamese ancient bronze casting technique.

They were perhaps used as a kind of important musical instrument initially, but step by step, they became the symbol of the power of Đông Sơn tribe leaders and represented the survival of the Lạc Việt Community. VNS 


Dr Dominique Görlitz (left) and Dr Kai Helge Wirth at World of Sky Discs Exhibition. VNA/VNS Photo