The Bronze Drums of Southeast Asia

Lecture by Jacques de Guerny, economist, associate professor at HEC and member of the Asian Society, Institut de France.

The Bronze Age spawned revolutionary innovations. Among them, the bronze drums, more solid and more sonorous than their predecessors in wood and skin, ensuring their owners a prestige even in their graves, even beyond for believers.

On their sound stage or on their cylindrical base, these drums were engraved with decorations subject to interpretation but always admirable, for example those of totemic frogs to govern the rain. In doing so, men gave the drums new missions: not only to create sounds to attract the attention of the Spirits or to impress the enemy, but also, from the steppes to the tropics, to recall through their sculptures daily life and crucial values.

The Odyssey of the Bronze Drums has lasted 2 years, to the present day, and their rites have affected immense peoples and territories, from present-day China and Vietnam to the islands of Indonesia, including all of Indochina. . Jacques de Guerny relates them in a passionate manner, in clear terms with supporting photos after having visited each country concerned, meeting the practicing populations and the best specialists.

Without a doubt, the bronze drums of Southeast Asia are part of the treasures of humanity, as already attested by the largest museums in the world and the growing number of informed amateurs.


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