The Unimportance of Bronze Drums in Việt History

In the second half of the twentieth century, the bronze drum became a symbol of “the antiquity of Việt nation.”

However, from the time that the people we refer to as the Việt started to record information about themselves until the present – a time period roughly equivalent to the thousand years of the second millennium AD – bronze drums were never part of the cultural lives of the Việt. Instead, it is people whom the Việt perceived to be different from themselves, and whom the Việt looked down upon, who employed bronze drums in their cultural lives.

As such, no Việt prior to the twentieth century ever saw bronze drums as a symbol of “the antiquity of the Viêt nation.” Indeed, for many centuries most Việt probably lived and died without ever having seen, or heard of, a bronze drum.

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As for the Việt who wrote about bronze drums before the twentieth century, they also didn’t know anything about them. In the few instances when they wrote about bronze drums, they did so by citing information from extant “Chinese” sources. This is because they did not know anything about the drums themselves.

Let’s look, for instance, at what Lê Tắc had to say about bronze drums in his fourteenth-century An Nam chí lược 安南志略. In that work, Lê Tắc associated bronze drums with a different ethnic group, the Lão/Liêu Tử 獠子, a group of people whom Lê Tắc referred to in derogatory terms as “savages” (man tử 蠻子). This is what he wrote:

“Lão/Liêu Tử is another name for savages. There are many in Huguang and Yunnan. Some serve Giao Chỉ. There are also some who tattoo their foreheads and bore their teeth. There are quite a few different types of them. It was recorded in the past that there are Head-Shaped Lão/Liêu Tử (頭形獠子 – probably a mistake for ‘Flying-Head Lạo Tử’ 飛頭獠子), Red-Pants Lão/Liêu Tử (赤裸獠子) and Nose-Drinking Lão/Liêu Tử (鼻飲狻子). They all live in cliff caverns or nest huts. They drink wine through reeds. They are fond of warring with enemies and they beat bronze drums. They value big ones. When a drum is first completed, they place it in a courtyard with wine and invite their fellow kind. Those who come fill [the courtyard] to the gates. The daughter of a notable takes a gold or silver hairpin and strikes the drum, after which she leaves it with the owner.”

ancl

So in this text, bronze drums are associated with a people who are different from the Việt – Lão/Liêu Tử, whom Lê Tắc derogatorily labeled “savages.” It would be convenient to say that this name refers to the same people that we today call the “Lao,” but that’s probably not accurate, as the use of bronze drums was probably not limited to the ancestors of the people whom we today call the Lao.

In any case, none of the details that Lê Tắc provided were his own. Instead, they can be found in earlier “Chinese” sources. Some people will argue that Lê Tắc probably wrote this way because he wrote this book when he was in “China,” but the nineteenth-century geographical text, the Đại Nam nhất thống chí 大南一統志, likewise cited “Chinese” sources to explain what bronze drums were.

dnntc2 - Copy

There is a passage in that work on a shrine called the Shrine of the Spirit of the Bronze Drum (Đồng Cổ Thần Tự 銅鼓神祠), which I will write about later, and at the end of that passage several “Chinese” texts are cited to explain what bronze drums are. And I think it is significant to note that the Vietnamese translation of this text omits this information (yet one more example of why the quốc ngữ versions of Hán texts are hopelessly flawed).

This is what that text says:

“According to the History of the Later Han [Hou Hanshu 後漢書], Ma Yuan obtained Lạc Việt bronze drums in Giao Chỉ/Jiaozhi. The Record of Guang Region [Guangzhou ji 廣州記] [records that] the Li and the Liao cast drums out of bronze. Only those that are tall are valued, and over a meter wide. When a drum is first completed, it is hung in a courtyard. Wine is placed there and they invite their fellow kind. The daughter of a notable takes a gold or silver hairpin and strikes the drum, after which she leaves it with the owner. Also, the History of the Sui [Suishu 隋書] the various savages all cast large bronze drums. When there was some incident they would sound it and people would arrive like clouds. . .”

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So prior to the twentieth century, bronze drums, which are now the symbol of “the antiquity of the Việt nation,” were basically unknown to the Việt.

So why is it that it is only after Europeans dug bronze drums out of the ground in the twentieth century and introduced the concept of nationalism to the Việt that the Việt started to see the bronze drums as such important symbols?

Oh, I think I just answered my own question. . .

23 thoughts on “The Unimportance of Bronze Drums in Việt History

  1. Thanks a lot for this interesting entry and the translations of the relevant passages. That is indeed a great help for those of us who have to struggle with those hopelessly flawed quoc ngu versions of the original sources. Since the drums appear even on the covers of e.g. Vietnamese grammar books (!) it seems appropriate to return to the topic from time to time.

    It seems that a former PhD student of the University of Hawaii has published a nice paper on the same topic and I found the following paragraph in particular very useful in order to illustrate the overall rationale for the appropriation of these drums and the squabble over such “savages´” artefacts:

    “For Vietnamese scholars, an essential part of reconstructing Vietnamese history was to prove the existence of the legendary Van Lang state established by the Hung Kings. This itself was in turn part of a larger program to prove that the Red River delta was an early centre of civilization independent of the north. Their starting point was to establish a direct relationship between the Hung Kings and Dong Son culture, and then to prove that the Dong Son culture was native to northern Vietnam. To do so, they had to prove the native origin of the bronze drum because it is one of the most important artefacts of the Dong Son culture.”

    [http://www.hawaii.edu/cseas/pubs/explore/han.html]

    1. An “updated” version of that paper later appeared in Asian Perspectives:
      http://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/handle/10125/17200 I’m not sure if it is very different or not, but that should be the more “authoritative” version.

      Yes, that is a good article. The author is equally critical of the Chinese and Vietnamese.

      I think that archaeologists (both Vietnamese and foreign) have done work that really challenges the narrative of the past that was written as part of that “larger program to prove that the Red River delta was an early centre of civilization independent of the north” that the above quote mentions. And there are textual scholars (people in Han Nom studies) who have done the same. But I don’t see historians doing much to respond to the ideas that people in related fields have produced in recent years. They’re still publishing books called “The History of Viet Nam” with pictures of bronze drums on them. . .

  2. When I went to the Giỗ tổ Hùng Vương in 1994 I was struck by one of the performances. A group of young people (I think young men and women) were going in a circular procession around a bronze drum and tapping a regular tinny rhythm on it. I think that the young people were dressed like ethnic minorities, or maybe somebody’s idea of what proto-Vietnamese look like. I think the reference the used for the music might be the cồng chiêng music of northern minorities.

    The bronze drums do have a performative role to play in contemporary Vietnam. But they might still be working out what it is.

  3. On a related, but different subject — I went to the Mid-Autumn festival in my neck of the woods. They have turned it into a pan-Southeast Asian event. There was a one day display of objects or illustrations about each ethnic groups heritage. They displayed a number of Vietnamese musical instruments – but the special treat was a lithophone – đàn đá. This is basically a tuned stone xylophone. It was only discovered in the mid-1950, comes from the central highlands and probably dates from some indefinite antiquity.

    As with the bronze drums, I suppose the important factor is that this kind of instrument was unearthed within Vietnam’s borders, so it becomes a symbol of Vietnam and its lengthy history, and can be used by the Vietnamese to represent their heritage to themselves and to others.

    But as you note, until the 20th century this would have been an artifact of savages. So there has been a meaningful transition from rebuffing the savage, to incorporating the savage as part of oneself.

    1. Yes, you can see the “savages” start to get incorporated in the 1950s with works like Nguyễn Ngọc’s “Đất nước đúng lên” (Eng. title, “The Village that Wouldn’t Die”). I think Patricia Pelley has stuff on this in her “Postcolonial Vietnam.” That said, I think you are write to phrase it the way you did when you mention a transition “to incorporating the savage as part of oneself.” The traces we can see if this today, like Nguyễn Ngọc’s book, are very one-sided. We don’t see what the “savages” thought about this. So my sense is that the transition was only a partial transition. Then again, that’s pretty much the norm all over the world when it comes to majority-minority relations, isn’t it?

  4. Dear leminhkhai,

    I would like to know your opinions about the bronze drums and history of Vietnam and China:

    1. Do you know the reason why bronze drums did not appear in VN history until the last century?

    2. Do you think that bronze drums did not belong to Vietnamese ancestors because Vietnam history books did not mention about bronze drums before 20th century?

    3. Do you know the reason why Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China, ordered to burn books and bury alive scholars?

    4. Do you think that all the true happened in previous time in China and Vietnam would be appearred in China history books and Vietnam history books?

  5. Thanks for the comments and questions. When I write blog entries, I usually write simply, without adding too much detail, because my goal is to get people to think about some idea/problem.

    To actually write an academic work on this topic, however, would require more detail and sophistication. To do that, I would never talk about “Vietnam” and “China” with regard to bronze drums, unless I was talking about the arguments that took place in the second half of the 20th century between scholars (mainly) in Hanoi and Beijing, or that were published in journals from Hanoi and Beijing.

    To me, “Vietnam” and “China” refers to the “modern nations” that were formed in the 20th century after those areas came into contact with, and adopted, Western ideas of the nation and started to view all of the people within their borders as one nation, with one main culture. That was a very new concept, and it came from the West (and it had only emerged in the West shortly before that time).

    The people who promoted this idea of the nation did/do try to get people to believe that the nation had long or always existed. To be sure, prior to the twentieth century there was “something” in these two places, but it was not the same as what exists now. One of the key elements of nationalism is that it argues that “what exists now” has long existed. But what historians in the West have been pointing out for the past 40s or so years is that this is not true. Nationalism gets people to “imagine” that the past was the same as the present, and in the process people alter and distort the information from the past to get it to fit the nationalist needs of the present.

    So before we can talk about a topic like bronze drums, we need to understand how peoples ideas changed in the twentieth century, and we need to avoid using 20th-century ideas to view the past. This is a point that I have made over and over and over on this blog. Indeed, it is the main purpose of this blog.

    As for the destruction of information about the past, that is an interesting issue, as it provokes a lot of imagination. One could argue that something existed, and then it was destroyed, but if that is the case, then how do we know that it ever existed? So we can’t simply say that something existed and that we don’t know about it today because it was destroyed. We have to look at other forms of evidence.

    So, for instance, in response to the pieces I wrote about the bronze drums, one scholar in Vietnam pointed out the need to look further at how the Viet became different from the Muong (something that linguists have already pointed out). That is a valid point, it could definitely be connected to this issue of the bronze drums, and examining that point could perhaps lead to a clearer understanding of the past.

    Some of those other forms of evidence come from sources other than texts. However, again, we have to be very very careful that we do not use ideas from the 20th-century to interpret that evidence. For instance, just because some cultural practice exists in a village today, does not mean that it has existed for 2,000 years, and does not mean that it is a practice that an entire “national community” practiced in the past. So we have to be very careful about what we look at and what we conclude from it.

    All I did in these blog posts was to point out that we have a “problem” that needs to be further examined. Many people seem to have agreed. I leave it to others to come up with possible solutions to this question. Your questions, however, bring up points that such people need to consider.

  6. Dear leminhkhai,

    In this article, you mentioned deeply about bronze drums from China sources and Vietnam sources from both China and Vietnam old history books, the same as the main purpose of this article appears on the title of this article: “The Unimportance of Bronze Drums in Việt History”; therefore, it is FAIR & JUSTICE to discuss about: bronze drums, China history & Vietnam history since the brozne age until present time.

    Once again, I would like to know your opinions about the bronze drums and history of Vietnam and China:

    1. Do you know the reason why bronze drums did not appear in VN history until the last century?

    2. Do you think that bronze drums did not belong to Vietnamese ancestors because Vietnam history books did not mention about bronze drums before 20th century?

    3. Do you know the reason why Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China, ordered to burn books and bury alive scholars?

    4. Do you think that all the true happened in previous time in China and Vietnam would be appearred in China history books and Vietnam history books?

    Please answer my questions from number 1 to number 4. Thank you.

    1. I think the way I write might not be clear to some people. I try to avoid using the words “Vietnam/Vietnamese” and “China/Chinese” because like I said, those are modern concepts that carry modern (nationalist) meanings.

      In what I wrote about the bronze drums I wrote Việt and “Chinese.” I used “Việt” instead of “Vietnamese” to try to indicate that I was talking about people before the modern concept of “Vietnamese” emerged. And I put the term “Chinese” in quotes (“”) to indicate the same thing.

      That said, I admit that this technique is not adequate, and this again is one of the main points of this blog. We need to come up with more complex ways to talk about the past, because the past was much more complex than a story of “Vietnam” and “China.”

      Prior to the twentieth century, there was no “Vietnam” or “China” or “Korea” or “France” or “England” or “Germany” AS WE UNDERSTAND THESE TERMS TODAY. Yes, there were communities there, and there were various cultural commonalities, but the twentieth century brought tremendous changes to the way that people all over the world think about themselves (based on ideas that started to develop in Europe and America in the late 18th century), and universal education spread those ideas, so that now they seem 100% natural, but they are not.

      So again, my point is that when we talk about different periods and places prior to the 20th century, we need to try to be as accurate in our way of talking and thinking about that time and place as possible.

      So, for example, I would not refer to Qin Shihuangdi as the “first emperor of China.” “China” is a 20th-century concept. At the time that Qin Shihuangdi lived, no one had any idea that an entity called “China,” and thought of IN THE WAYS WE DO TODAY, would ever come into existence.

      Qin Shihuangdi established an empire. That’s all. It wasn’t “China.” And the thing that we today call “China” is dramatically different from what existed back then in every possible way – national boundaries, cultural practices, language, demographics, the list goes on and on and on.

      1. 1. Do you know the reason why bronze drums did not appear in VN history until the last century?

        I think the answer that anh Khai has given here and elsewhere is that prior to the 20th century the people concerned with the state / polity that existed where today’s Vietnam is located did not know about or concern themselves with the bronze drums that existed within the boundaries of present day Vietnam. And that to whatever extent their historic annals recorded that people and activities of the time and place of these bronze drums, these activities were seen as barbaric, not really belonging to them and not worthy of acknowledgement or celebration.

        Question 2 gets into tangled questions of ethnic identity – to what extent can the people from 1900-2700 years ago can be said to share a common heritage with the people of the present. It’s not unreasonable to suppose a genetic connection, although I’m not sure how to prove it. A cultural connection is again difficult to assert, although there could be something passed along (customs, ways of farming, etc) – there is just so little information to work with. What does the resident living ca. 500 BC on the land of present day London have in common with today’s Londoner? One thing is for sure – they would need a translator. And that would be true in the case of the bronze drum people and Vietnamese today.

      2. Dear leminhkhai,

        You can not distinguish the difference between the NATIONAL NAME and the HISTORY of a nation, can you?

        There are MANY national names of a nation. They are different names from different times. For example, in the past, Vietnam had many different national names such as: Văn Lang, Âu Lạc, Đại Việt….ect….

        But a NATION HISTORY has only ONE HISTORY, when we mention “China history”, it means the history of Huaxia(the first nation of China) UNTIL the history of China in present time. Huaxia is A PART of China history, Huaxia is the first nation of Han Chinese. It’s really ridiculous if someone consider Huaxia does not belong to China history or Huaxia is not a nation of Han Chinese ancestors!. It’s also ridiculous if someone consider Đại Việt does not belong to Vietnam history or Đại Việt is not a nation of Vietnamese ancestors!

        Therefore, Qin Shihuang is the first Emperor of China when China became an Empire in the first time. Can you distinguish the difference between the King and the Emperor?

        When people mention “China history books” it means Chinese history books at any time from Huaxia until China today, if they don’t specify what dynasty of what time.

        In this case, we talk about bronze drums, we NEED TO PAY ATTENTION to INFORMATIONS SINCE the TIME AGE of the oldest bronze drums UNTIL NOW. The time of Qin dynasty and Han dynasty had the same time that Bai Yue culture to practice bronze drums were affected by China invasion. Thus, we need to pay attention to China history books in Qin dynasty & Han dynasty too. That time is A PART of informations about bronze drums.

        China history books and Vietnam history books are ONLY A PART of INFORMATIONS about bronze drums. We also need to pay attention to: archaeology, culture, the policy of invaders, the migration of people: during the war time, during oversea trading and during the change of climate. Those informations would help us to find the truth about bronze drums. If we rely only in Chinese history sources or Vietnamese history sources, we can not jump to a conclusion about the bronze drums.

        Have you ever known the proverb: “A piece of bread is bread, a piece of a story is not the truth for the whole story”?

        When you rely only in Chinese history source and Vietnamese history source about the bronze drum, then you know only a piece of bronze drum’s story, not the truth for the whole story of bronze drum.

  7. Hi, Mr Le Minh Khai. Once again, I have to say sorry that I think you should at least read the book Đại Việt Sử Kí Toàn Thư more carefully. The term “trống đồng/bronze drum” wasnot something unknown for Vietnamese people until 19th century.

    In that book, page 91 a.
    ——–
    Ngày 15, vua đích thân dẫn trăm quan bái yết Sơ lăng và ra lệnh chỉ cho quan coi lăng ở Lam Sơn rằng:
    “Mọi việc ở đền thờ cần phải thành kính, tinh khiết như ngả cây, chặt che, kiếm củi… tế tẩm miếu dùng 4 trâu, đánh trống đồng, [91b] quân lính reo hò hưởng ứng. Về nhạc, võ thì múa điệu “Bình Ngô phá trận”, văn thì múa điệu “Chư hầu lai triều”
    ——-

    I will translate for people cannot read Vietnamese context but I am really sorry about my bad English.
    ——–
    “In the 15th February 1456, the Le king (Le Nhan Tong) and his mandarin went to the royal temple (I donot know how to translate correctly that term) and gave the mandate:
    – In temple, everyone need honor, respect like cut down the tree, … when sacrificing use 4 buffaloes, beat the bronze drum, [change to page 91b] solider roar and yell. As for the music, when shows kungfu, dance the “Bình Ngô phá trận”, when shows literature, dance the “Chư hầu lại triều”

    ——–
    And I mention here again the term Ngô appears.

    So the bronze drum actually is something appears in royal custom level in Le dynasty and it wasnot something unknown for Vietnamese people until 19th century.

    1. Ok, now show me what the continuity in ideas is between this and what existed around say 200 BC?

      This is a perfect example of an earlier practice getting appropriated by people who are culturally different. This same thing happened over and over and over in Vietnamese history (and in the histories of people in other parts of the world).

      There are people who start worshiping a stone. Then Buddhists come along and transform that belief into a Buddhist belief. Then Confucian scholars come along and transform that belief into a Confucian belief.

      Yes, there was “a” bronze drum that was part of a Confucianized/Sinicized royal ceremony, but rituals like that were about appropriating the power of people who were different (the non-Sinicized peoples who used bronze drums).

      Po Nagar/Thien Y A Na is an example of a similar process.

      https://www.academia.edu/9245583/_Constructing_Local_Narratives_Spirits_Dreams_and_Prophecies_in_the_Medieval_Red_River_Delta_

    2. First, you said that the “bronze drum” wasnot mention by Viet people until 20th century. However, what I did was that I showed for you the text by Viet people.

      Second, I agree that the culture of any nation, state was changed day by day. So the “important things” actually change day by day.

      Third, the “bronze drum” was a culture of a part of Vietnamese ancestry from 6th century BC till 1st century AD when people make bronze drum like a music instrument and a symbol of power for local chief. After that, we lack information about bronze drum. As the text I mentioned before, it was still a music instrument and a symbol of power of temple or god. You said that Po Nagar/Thien Y A Na is an example of a similar process but the big different is Po Nagar is kind of God in Champa culture, it wasnot just a music instrument and the more importance is it came from different ethnic. For bronze drum, the Vietnamese ancestry used it from 6th century till 1456 like the text and it wasnot borrowed from another ethnic or at least we donot have information about that kind of borrowing.

      Forth, I want to show that the lack of information is never mean that it has never been exist.

    3. Thanks for pointing this out. I have never claimed to have researched this period in detail, I can just detect when people are telling me nationalist views of the past rather than accurate views of the past.

      This passage here fits with everything that I have ever said.

      This is in Thanh Hoa.Thanh Hoa in the 15th century was at the edge/periphery of the Viet world. One of the reasons why the educated elite in Thanh Long did not like Le Loi was because he was from Thanh Hoa. Thanh Hoa was a multi-ethnic region, but some people there had been assimilated to some extent into the world of the Thang Long Sinicized elite.

      In one of the posts that I wrote about the BNDC, I included a picture of two men sitting next to a bronze drum on a table. Those 2 men were Muong. The Muong elite were likewise a group of people who had had been assimilated to some extent into the world of the Thang Long Sinicized elite.

      So what we can see is that bronze drums were used in limited ways in the Thanh Hoa area. Why was this? Well, if we want to imagine that “Vietnam” was a world in which everyone was united and happy, then we can understand this as an example of a “musical instrument” that “the Viet” like to play.

      That’s a nationalistic view of the past.

      An accurate view of the past is that the area of what is today Vietnam was a multi-ethnic region that a Sinicized elite gradually conquered and extended their control over.

      The fact that the second “song/dance” performed at this shrine was “Chư hầu lại triều” (the vassals pay tribute to the court) is evidence of this. Who were these “vassals” (chư hầu)? They were the ethnic minority groups that were indirectly ruled by the Le court. Why were they supposed to “pay tribute to the court” (lại triều)? Because the Le had “pacified the Ngo” (the name of the other song/dance).

      In other words, all of the issues of power/conquest/control that I have been talking about, are all present here.

      I apologize if I wrote somewhere that the term “bronze drum” was “not mentioned.” As I wrote in 2013, I obviously know that it was mentioned, but what all of the information that we have about bronze drums in Vietnamese history indicates is that they were in no way central to “Viet” culture, but instead, were a tool for the Viet conquest/control of non-Viet peoples in the Thanh Hoa area after the Sinicized elite who referred to themselves as “Viet” emerged in the 10th century.

      It’s interesting that the translation of the Dai Nam nhat thong chi doesn’t include the poem that talks about how “The sounding of the drum drives away the mad savages.”

      That translation also does include a long passage which shows that educated Vietnamese in the 19th century knew nothing about bronze drums and had to turn to Chinese sources to try to understand what they were. This is what I call “the evils of quoc ngu.” As long as people can’t read chu Han, they will never be able to understand the Vietnamese past, because Vietnamese translators have distorted the past beyond recognition.

      To quote:

      According to the History of the Later Han [Hou Hanshu 後漢書], Ma Yuan obtained Lạc Việt bronze drums in Giao Chỉ/Jiaozhi.
      The Record of Guang Region [Guangzhou ji 廣州記] [records that] the Li and the Lao cast drums out of bronze. The tallest and the most precious are more than a zhang/trượng 丈 across. When first [made], they are hung in a courtyard. Wine is placed there and the powerful and wealthy people of the same tribe are summoned to come with their sons and daughters and to hit the drum with an implement made of gold and silver. This implement is left with the master.
      Also, the History of the Sui [Suishu 隋書] [states that] the various savages cast many large bronze drums. When there is an important matter, they sound it, and the people all arrive like the clouds. Those who have drums are called dulao/đô lão [都老]. They are made 3-4 chi/xích 尺 in height, and have a top but no bottom. Their sound is not that loud. It is said that they are called Zhuge [諸葛] drums, and that they were made by Kongming [孔明, i.e., Zhuge Liang].
      The Unified Gazetteer of the Ming [明一統志] also has [bronze drums] as Zhuge’s campaigning-against-the-savages gongs [征蠻鉦].
      Based on all of this, [we can see that] there were already bronze drums from the time of the Eastern Han [i.e., from the time of Ma Yuan]. It is not the case that they began with Kongming.

  8. LeminKhai, I believe you did answer your own question as well. In Vietnamese culture, (generally speaking) people do not see value in antiques, artifacts, or even history. For this reason, we must consider the fact that the history of Vietnam has been ravaged by war for thousands of generations so most of what we know of history is passed down as folklore.

  9. I’m reading a series of books called Nhin lai su Viet by Author Le Manh Hung. In one of the earlier books he states that when the Trung sisters – who led the Lac tuong and army against Ma Yuan- was defeated, there was a big campaign by Ma Yuan to eradicate all remnants of the Lac culture. This included the destruction of all the drums. The author writes that many “rebels” then felt compelled to bury some of the drums ( I think upside down- I can’t remember the reason). The author also stated that many of the Lac tuong and their families were captured and exiled in far away lands, slaving away till they died or totally assimilated.
    Ma Yuan became personally involved in the management of the land what was referred to as Giao Chi (Jiaozhi) for many years. His influence extended to bringing many Han officials from the North to govern the said land. One of the things he did was to change the law of the land in relation to women’s ownership of land. He encouraged and rewarded Northern Hans to marry local women and eventually became, by law, owners of the family assets.
    Ma Yuan became a revered figure among the ruling elite, including the local collaborators, whom I’m sure were mainly Han descendants.
    Anyway the point is that the bronze drums were associated with the Trung sisters and their uprising. I don’t know (or remember) where the author got his sources from.
    Growing up we were bombarded with the Vietnamese operas, one of which was “Tieng trong Me Linh” (the drum sounds of Me Linh, it being the home of the Trung sisters).
    Maybe it is also part of the propaganda promoting nationalism, but there are so many things that we learn from folklore and some of them are just fiction. However if a culture or history of a people living long ago has been wiped out and deliberately removed from written history, then we can only hang our hats on something intangible….

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