Arts and Architecture

The first flourishing of Vietnamese art occurred with the emergence of the Dongson culture on the coast of Annam and Tonkin between 500 and 200 BC. The inspiration for the magnificent bronzes produced by the artists of Dongson originated from China: the decorative motifs have clear affinities with earlier Chinese bronzes. At the same time, the exceptional skill of production and decoration argues that these pieces represent among the first, and finest, of South-East Asian works of art. This is most evident in the huge and glorious bronze drums that can be seen in museums in both Hanoi and Saigon. If there was ever a 'golden' period of the Vietnamese art and architecture it was that of the former central Vietnamese kingdom of Champa, centered on the Annamite coast. It flowered in the 10th and 11th centuries. Only 20 of 250 former sites have survived the intervening centuries, the most famous being My Son and Dong Duong. Characteristic of Vietnamese art and architecture are the pagodas and palaces at Hue and in and around Hanoi, although Chinese prototypes are evident.