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Bronze dagger hilt
Champa (Vietnam), 9th century

Bronze dagger hilt

A cast bronze dagger hilt, formed as two interlinking C-shapes. The top is decorated with a rounded stepped stupa shaped ornament in the centre and simple ridges to either side. At the bottom of the handle on both sides is an identical head of a dragon or Makara. Its open mouth with menacing saw teeth appears to swallow the remainder of an iron blade, now heavily corroded.

• China was probably the strongest cultural influence in Vietnam. The Cham civilization however, which existed from the second to the sixteenth century throughout the central highlands of Vietnam, offered a startling contrast to many of Vietnam's Mandarin conventions. The Chams derived their cultural influences almost exclusively from India. The Cham were almost predominantly Hindu, in contrast to other peoples of Vietnam, who adhered to Confucianism and Daoism. This divergence in religion had substantial impact on both social organization and worldview. Examples of temple sculpture from the early Cham period show figures wearing daggers under their belts.1

1 Guillon, E.: Cham Art, Treasures from the Da Nang Museum, Vietnam, London 2001, page 59

Height: 5 1/4 inches; 13 cm
Width: 4 1/4 inches; 10.5 cm


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