The Culture

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Painting & Sculpture

Painting on frame-mounted silk dates from the 13th century and was at one time the preserve of scholar-calligraphers, who painted grand scenes from nature. Before the advent of photography, realistic portraits for use in ancestor worship were produced. Some of these - usually of former head monks - can still be seen in certain Buddhist pagodas. During the past century, Vietnamese painting has been influenced by Western trends. Much recent work has had political rather than aesthetic or artistic motives. The se propagandist pieces are easy to spot at the Fine Arts Museum in Hanoi. The recent economic liberalisation has convinced many young art ists to abandon the revolutionary themes and concentrate on producing commercial paintings. Some have gone back to the traditional-style silk or lacquer paintings, while others are experimenting with contemporary subjects. The Chams produced spectacular carved sandstone figures for their Hindu and Buddhist sanctuaries. Cham sculpture was profoundly influenced by -Indian art but over the centuries it managed to also incorporate Indonesian and Vietnamese elements. The largest single collection of Cham sculpture in the world is found at the Museum of Cham Sculpture in Danang. For the lowdown on Cham architecture, see the Po Klong Garai Cham Towers.