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"Thanh Hóa’s material culture"

Date 28 - 01 - 2019

On the way back to study human origin and country’s historico-cultural nature, Thanh Hóa province – Thanh Region is a promised land with impressive historical events. It comsists of cultural identities flowing in the river of human history and culture in general and family of ethic communities of Vietnam as well. Đọ mountain - Early Paleolithic – is one of the cradles of the humankind. Đa Bút – middle Neolithic – bears the estuary cultural characteristics. Hoa Lộc – Late Neolithic – Early Bronze Age – is salt with coastal cultural factors, however, having a close cultural relationship with those in the Northern and Central Vietnam… And then, after phases of the Pre-Metal Age, Vietnamese ancient people in this region came to civilization, creating a famous culture: Dongsonian Culture on the Mã River. Together with civilized centers in the Red and Cả rivers, Dongsonian culture established the Kingdom of Văn Lang – Âu Lạc – the first state of Vietnam.

In the first millennium A.D, Thanh Hóa, as the whole country, was under pressure of Chinese assimilation. In such context, Tam Thọ pottery center has indicated the strong vitality of the traditional culture in spite of the spread of the exotic factors. This has been considered as the first step in the very long struggle against the northern enemy in nearly ten centuries, and “We are ourselves after one thousand years”. This does not mean that we boycott all the external cultural factors. Nevertheless, we have long adopted the quintessence from other cultures and civilization besides cores bearing Dongsonian traditions. Therefore, after a onethousand night, Vietnamese people made a great exploit: Restoring traditional culture in the Lý – Trần dynasties in the beginning of the freedom and self-control.

Related to the restored culture in the Lý – Trần dynasties, the excavated relics such as Hương Nghiêm, Linh Xứng and Sùng Nghiêm Diên Thánh pagodas, Ly Cung, together with many assemblages of ceramics in the provincial museum indicate clearly the fineness liberation in the depicting art in these two dynasties. The Hồ’s Citadel – the World’s Cultural Heritage – has been excavated and investigated several times, yielding a lot of assemblages for the museum. They contain architectural values and imperial materials that were brought from Thăng Long imperial citadel.

Lam Kinh – Special National Historical Site – is homeland of the Posterior Lê dynasty, which was the longest dynasty in the feudal time of Vietnam, contributing considerably to the state foundation and protection. The artifacts excavated from Lam Kinh are kept in Thanh Hóa museum show clearly the significant role of Lam Kinh in reinforcing the royal dynasty and national construction.

After Lam Kinh, Vạn Lại became capital city of the Restored Lê dynasty with plenty of materials of this dynasty that are kept and exhibited in the Thanh Hóa provincial museum. The material assemblages both reflect the continuity of traditions and contain differences through the epochs. One could see clearly this through the bronze caldron found in Cẩm Thủy, which was considered as national treasure. The caldron is a typical example presenting the royal values because it was given a chieftain as one of the policies of the central authorities in order to tie the ethnic people in the boundary remote regions.

Related to the time of Mạc dynasty and Quang Trung, Thanh Hóa museum also have assemblages, most specially the lamp-stand (lower section) with Chinese characters showing the years of Diên Thành 1 (1578), the reign of Mạc Mậu Hợp.

Thanh Hóa region is also homeland of the Nguyễn dynasty; therefore, temple and mausoleum of Triệu Tường in Gia Miêu hamlet, Hà Long commune, Hà Trung district, were built there. Besides, Thanh Hóa museum has also focused on collecting the objects related to this dynasty. The lacquered and gilt wooden statues, ceramics, bronze objects…reflect many aspects of the social and spiritual life of the Thanh Hóa people in the 19th - early 20th centuries.

Above is summarized content of the book “Material culture of the Thanh Region – through the objects in Thanh Hóa Museum”. The book is concerned with the history of the region through assemblages kept and being into play in Thanh Hóa provincial museum. The content, therefore, could not cover entirely the material culture of Thanh Hóa province. Moreover, those assemblages partly represent different phases of the antiquity and middle age of Vietnam. Thanh Hóa provincial museum would like to introduce them to the readers as inspiring the study and exploring more about the people and land of Thanh Hóa.

We highly recommend the book to all readers.

Thanh Hóa Provincial Museum


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