Indonesia’s Proud Prehistory – The Dong-son Bronze Culture

In Indonesia Prehistory, It was once thought that Southeast Asia’s Bronze Age began with the Chinese influenced

Dong – son bronze culture of North Vietnam in the first millennium B.C., however he discovery of 5000-year-old copper and bronze tools at Ban Chiang and Non Nok Tha in northern Thailand has raised the possibility of related developments e sewhere in the region. Nevertheless all early Indonesian bronzes known to date are clearly of the Dong – son type and probably date from between 500 B.C. and 500 A.D.

The finest Dong – son ceremonial bronze drums and axes are distinctively decorated with engraved geometric, animal and human motifs. This decorative style was highly influential in many fields of Indonesian art, and seems to have spread together with the bronze casting technique. as old stone moulds have been found at various sites in Indonesia. The sophisticated “lost wax” technique of bronze casting was employed, and bronzes of this type have been recovered as far east as New Guinea and Roti.

Who were the Indonesian producers of Dong – son type bronzes? It is difficult to say for sure, but it seems that small kingdoms based on wet – rice agriculture and foreign trade flourished already in the archipelago during this period. Articles of Indian manufacture have been found at several prehistoric sites in Indonesia, and a panel from a bronze drum found on Sangeang Island near Sumbawa, depics figures in ancient chinese dress. Early Han texts mention the clove producing islands of eastern Indonesia, and it is certain that by the second century B.C. (if not earlier), trade was wide spread throughout the archipelago.

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