Situla with Design of Boats

Period: Bronze and Iron Age period, Dongson culture

Date: ca. 500 B.C.–A.D. 300

Culture: Vietnam

Medium: Bronze

Dimensions: H. 8 1/4 in. (21 cm)

Classification: Metalwork

Credit Line: Samuel Eilenberg Collection, Bequest of Samuel Eilenberg, 1998

Accession Number: 2000.284.60


Axes, situlae, and drums play an important role in Vietnam's Dongson culture named after a site located on the coastline to the south of present-day Hanoi that was first excavated in 1924. The four long boats with seated warriors in the central horizontal band of this bucket shaped vessel, common images in the art of the Dongson culture, are also depicted, albeit more summarily, on the sides on the bronze model of a drum in this case. There had been much speculation regarding the meaning of this theme, which is interpreted as representations of military or imperial processions, or as symbols of either the practice of shamanism or a soul's journey to the afterlife.