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A report on the origins of Vietnamese art reveals a long and rich history. The first forms of the Vietnamese art could be traced into the Stone Age, nearly 8,000 years before Christ. Though Vietnamese art has been influenced by different civilizations, it’s always had its own style and identity. In spite of this cross-culture sway, Vietnamese artwork has never lost its important distinction.
The first influence was likely made by the Chinese domination of Vietnam in the 2nd century B.C.. The neighborhood art of Vietnam heavily absorbed the Chinese influence and this style lasted over a long period of time even after their independence from China in the 10th century A.D.
Throughout the Stone Age and Bronze Age, Vietnamese artwork in the shape of pottery and bronze casting reached new heights. Even the Stone Age potteries were much more fundamental and lacked artistic decors however their Dong Son drums which went back into the Dong Son civilization from about 1,000 B.C. into the 4th century B.C., implement innovative bronze-casting skills and obviously reveals remarkable advancements of the artwork. The important developments of artwork in Vietnam probably took place during the ten century-long Chinese rule around the country from 111 B.C. into 939 A.D. Even after their independence, impressions of Chinese-influenced philosophies adopted by Vietnam such as Confucianism, Mahayana Buddhism, and Taoism were unusually observable in their own arts.
During this time period, the arts of Vietnam grew increasingly more popular and so were even recognized across the East and Southeast parts of Asia. In spite of the fact that Vietnamese art had started to find fame and popularity during the Chinese domination, the real evolution of fine arts began with the French colonization in the 19th century. In the 20th century, French colonialists established the “Fine Arts College of Indochine” (FACI), which exclusively opened to the three Indochine states Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia following an all about European instruction method. But in 1954, with the Dien Bien Phu Victory, Vietnam was divided into two different regions, North Vietnam and South Vietnam based on the Geneva Agreement. Both regions grew different styles of arts under the influence of different cultures for the next few years.
In 1975, when the war ended and Vietnam has unified as one country again, the inevitable cross-culture conflicts between the North and South region failed to leave much impact on art. Because of the influence of various cultures and their civilizations, the war-torn nation could not develop any new tendencies or ideas except those coming from the outside world which has been changed in accordance with Vietnamese life. It’s not that contemporary or contemporary art does not exist but there are not a lot of impressive or monumental works showing any philosophical traits. Representing their cultural heritage, Vietnamese artwork mainly represents a silent beauty as well as simplicity of Vietnamese people and their history of struggle against invasions.