Although Vietnamese art has a storied history which dates back past 5000 BCE, contemporary perceptions of the nation’s artistic productions are often associated with the extensive period of Chinese rule following the military conquest of 赵佗 Zhao Tuo in 207 BCE.
After being absorbed into the Chinese empire in 111 BC, Vietnam remained under the Middle Kingdom’s rule for over a thousand years. Chinese rule influenced the culture greatly, triggering changes in language, aesthetics and agriculture.
The Lý Dynasty (980-1225 CE) marks the first period of sustained autonomous Vietnamese rule and is characterized by a rigid militaristic social order and the institution of the civil service examinations.
At the time, life, art and politics were predicated on the confluence of Mahayana Buddhist traditions and Confucian and Daoist values. With the formation of a new state and a burgeoning national identity, the Lý Dynasty has earned the status of being Vietnam’s golden age of art. Incorporating more classically-established techniques, such as the Vietnamese “three colors” motif, alongside foreign-introduced styles that developed into unique ceramic forms represented below:
Naturalistic tropes can be seen within much of Lý Dynasty ceramics. In the pieces depicted here, the usage of flora and fauna exhibit influence from China: dragons, Bodhi trees, and phoenixes. Prior to the Lý, ceramics were, in large part, produced solely for their utility.
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