Kerosene lamps keep the fire of Vietnam’s history

Some 650 old lamps, showcased in the exhibition “Light for all people” at the traditional house of the Saint Joseph Seminary in Ho Chi Minh City, keep Vietnam’s history alive from the 5th century BC to before 1975.

The kerosene lamps are in various shapes and sizes and made from a variety of materials such as terracotta, copper, ceramic, wood, iron, and glass. The ancient lamps on display have been collected by priest Nguyen Huu Triet and 10 other collectors.

Trinh Thi Hoa, former director of the Museum of Vietnamese History, said Nguyen Huu Triet and the Archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City play an important part in preserving and fostering the national cultural heritage. There are many invaluable artifacts on display, which help educate younger generations about the national culture through historical periods.

The lamps on display.

Hundreds of old lamps are showcased at the exhibition “Light for all people”.

Visitors are impressed by the old lamps on display.

A display of lamps which show the cultural exchange between Vietnam and India and some European countries.

The exhibition is held the traditional house of the Saint Joseph Seminary in Ho Chi Minh City.

In the Dong Son period (5th century BC), lamps were made from terracotta with the wicks inside. Then Vietnamese people used copper to make lamps, with different styles of lamp bases depending on the users’ social class. For nobility and kings, lamp bases were carved elaborately with many beautiful symbols which reflected contemporary cultural values.

During the 13th – 14th centuries (Ly and Tran dynasties), lamps were also made from terracotta. Each lamp has a different shape and size, but is still decorated beautifully and enameled in full color.

The lamps of the Oc Eo culture are also showcased at the exhibition, which help visitors understand more about the period. Many lamps reflect the cultural exchange between Vietnam and India as well as some European countries.

A deer-shaped lamp of the Dong Son culture (5th-1st centuries BC).

A terracotta lamp from the 13th-14th centuries.

Champa copper lamps, made in the 13th – 18th centuries.

A Champa copper lamp.

A Khmer pottery lamp which dates back to the 18th-20th centuries

A lamp made from ceramic in southern Vietnam during the 19th – 20th centuries.

Lamps made from ceramic are enameled in full color.

Ceramic lamps are in various shapes.

Glass kerosene lamps were often used in the 20th century.

lamp made from Bien Hoa ceramic with unique patterns.

The lamp bases are made from ceramic.

A ceramic lamp base is decorated with beautiful patterns.

Nguyen Ngoc Thao Uyen, a student at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities, said, “The lamps from all periods showcased at the exhibition have created a fascinating stream of history and culture. Many of them are highly aesthetic, proving that Vietnamese sculpture developed thousands of years ago. I feel that each era has its own mark on the lamps.”./.

By: Nguyen Vu Thanh Dat