While many people have heard of Dong Son bronze drums, few have ever seen one. An exhibition on Dong Son Art opened in Hanoi on Sept. 26 to reveal a Vietnamese culture dating back between 1,800 and 2,500 years.

Typical antiques including dagger hilts, statues, and numerous models of houses and villages on bronze drum barrels will be on display alongside lost Dong Son knitting, wood, musical instruments and rubbings describing ancient activities such as festivals, boat racing, planting and hunting.

Organisers hope to evoke national pride and awareness on the importance of protecting the country's cultural heritage among students of fine arts.

Dong Son marked a high point in the prehistoric fine arts of Vietnam and Southeast Asia . From the late 19th to the early 20th century, Western scholars paid close attention to the art of ancient Dong Son. It was not until the establishment of the Vietnam Institute of Archaeology (1968) that the art form became a subject for study however.

In 2003, the Vietnam Institute of Fine Arts (directed by the Vietnam University of Fine Arts) published a book by Nguyen Du Chi, in which Dong Son fine arts was delineated in the second chapter called Prehistoric Patterns.

In the same year, the Centre for Southeast Asian Prehistory, under the management of Nguyen Viet, PhD in history, conducted an intensive interdisciplinary, research project on prehistoric fine arts in Vietnam , results of which were published in Research of Fine Arts, brought out by the Vietnam University of Fine Arts.

All research findings will be presented at the exhibition in Vietnamese, English and French to make Dong Son as accessible as possible.

The show will run alongside seminars at the Viet Art Centre, 42 Yet Kieu street, Hanoi, until next on Oct. 3./.