Vietnamese Traditional Sculpture

Vietnamese sculpture has been heavily influenced by the three traditional religions Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism, which come from neighboring countries China and India.

Sculpture prehistory

The prehistory started from the Nui Do culture, 300,000 year ago, to the Dong Son culture, 2,500 years ago. In this period, cultural activities are not divided clearly. There are no prehistoric sculptures, only expressions or manifestations. Notably, the 10,000- year- old carvings can be seen on the Dong Noi cave (Lac Thuy District, Hoa Binh Province).
The Dong Son culture is famous for its kettledrums, small carvings and home utensils, which have handles sculpted in the shape of men, elephants, toads, and tortoises.

Sculpture of Grave Houses in the Central Highlands

Five provinces: Gia Lai, Kon Tum, Dak Lak, Dak Nong and Lam Dong are suited in the highlands of south- west Vietnam. Mourning houses erected to honor the death of the Gia Rai and Ba Na ethnic groups are symbolized by statues placed in front of the graves. These statues include couples embracing, pregnant women, and people in mourning, elephants, and birds

Champa Sculptures


Kingdom of Champa, in the South Central, is divided into natural areas with strips of coastal plain as Amaravati (Quang Nam), Vijaya (Binh Dinh), Kauthara (Nha Trang) and Paduranaga (Phan Rang). The link between Can and Dua people lead to a feudal state, which was strongly influenced by Hinduism.
From the second century, archaeologists think that the kingdom start developing, but it was only during the 7th and 8th centuries Champa sculpture, it spread throughout Southeast Asia.

Champa tower has a gate, a boat- shaped tower and a main tower in the middle.

The development of Cham sculpture is divided into six main periods:
- My Son E1 (first half of the 8th century).
- Hoa Lai (first half of the 9th century).

- Dong Duong (end of the 9th century).

- Tra Kieu(end of the 9th century and beginning of the 10th century).

- Thap Mam (12th and 13th centuries).

- Poklong Gialai (end of the 13th century to the 16th century).

Ly Sculpture (1010 – 1225)


Dai Vietnam became an independent nation, after Ly Cong Uan came to the throne and moved the capital from Hoa Lu to Thang Long. Buddhism became the national religion, as historian Le Van Huu said “more than half Vietnamese people are Buddhist monks and many temples are built in the country”. The Buddhist center is in Quang Ninh, Ha Nam Ninh, and, especially in Bac Ninh.

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