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Christophe Hioco

Dông Son Culture
H: 9 cm

Bearing evident but rare witness to the cult of fecundity still practiced today by most of the ‘ethnic minorities’ living on the high plateaux in Vietnam who thereby perpetuate ancestral customs of the Dông Son peoples and cultures, this object was quite certainly used as an amulet or a weight with the sexual connotation of fecundity (reference: the scale in the Bangkok museum includes an identical element). The object, which previously must have been hung from a central ring, broken today, is topped by two figures seated back to back in a position associated with rest. Their relaxed attitude is accentuated, besides, by the left hands holding their heads. Their hair tied back in a bun, these men are naked, their penises clearly visible, which reinforces the sexual nature of this object. An interesting detail is that their skins seem to be decorated with tattoos, corresponding to the descriptions of Chinese explorers who visited these distant and exotic lands and took note in ancient Chinese texts. Another Dông Son characteristic is the symmetrical representation of the figures, which can be found on numerous objects such, for example, as the figurative details of the daggers that are also presented in this catalogue. The refinement of the details of this object confirms the extreme skill of the Dông Son bronze smiths. The bronze, cast in a mould, is in very good condition and its fairly dark aspect is beautifully highlighted by a patina flecked with azurite and malachite.

This object was exhibited at the Royal Museum of Mariemont in 2002 and was published in the exhibit catalogue: ‘La fleur de pécher et l’oiseau d’azur, Arts du Vietnam’.

all text, images Christophe Hioco


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