Arts of Ancient Viet Nam: From River Plain to Open Sea

Lotus. Fu Nan period, 7th–8th century. Go Xoai site, Duc Hoa District, Long An Province. Gold foil. Long An Museum, BT87-M1-V-2. (Kaz Tsuruta, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco)

February 2 – May 2, 2010

This exhibition of ancient and traditional Vietnamese art demonstrates the role of Vietnam as an important hub of cultural and commercial interchange from the prehistoric period in the first millennium BCE through the nineteenth century. Although Viet Nam has been an important part of United States history in the 20th century, the country’s rich artistic and cultural heritage remains largely unknown.  As long as two thousand years ago, a maritime trade route extended from southern China to Roman-controlled ports in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea, via ports in what is now northern Vietnam, Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan and Iran. As a result of this exchange, Vietnam developed unique art objects with connections to China, India, and other cultures of Southeast Asia. The exhibition includes approximately 115 spectacular examples selected from Vietnamese museums conveying the country’s impressive artistic developments and attesting to its importance in the cultural development of Southeast Asia. Objects range from early burial goods and large bronze ritual drums to gold jewelry with precious stones, Hindu and Buddhist stone sculptures, and beautifully decorated ceramics.

Arts of Ancient Viet Nam is co-organized with Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

A full-color, 356-page catalogue accompanies the exhibition and is available at AsiaStore.