ART AND ARCHITECTURE
Marked by the constant search for harmony with the natural environment, and an aesthetic and decorative value in the treatment of materials and structures, the traditional architecture of the Vietnam is characterized by buildings generally developed horizontally (but towers or buildings are widespread multi-storey stupa), often articulated over a large area; wood is a fundamental construction material, especially in homes, and bricks and stone are reserved for buildings with religious or noble use. ● Religious architecture, like local spiritual life, is the result of a combination of various elements and is characterized by a variety of religious iconographies: elements that reveal influences derived not only from Southeast Asia and China but also from native stylistic features. Original reworkings of Chinese elements also characterize the plastic and decorative arts, essential elements of Vietnamese architectural production and decoration. Religious building is the Buddhist pagoda (chua), to be distinguished from the temple (den), dedicated to famous people; the van miêu is the Confucian temple. The oldest pagoda seems to date back to the 2nd century: a complex in the Dau, 35 km N of Hanoi, rebuilt in the 14th century, consisting of four temples dedicated to rain, thunder, clouds, light, and a three-story brick tower (Hoa Phong), originally nine, of uncertain dating. In Hanoi are among others the Pagoda on a Single Column (1049, supported by a single pillar, restored); the Tran Quoc Pagoda (15th century, rebuilt), and nearby the Perfume Pagoda, a complex (13th century) of various buildings carved into the rock. In the city are also the Temple of Literature (1070), consecrated to Confucius and seat of the first university, and that of Ngoc Son (of the Jade Mountain, 18th century). The pagodas of Bac Ninh, (17th-18th century, with several floors) and of Tay Phuong (rebuilt in 1794, important sculptures) are important. ● Hue, imperial city, former capital of Vietnam (1802-1945), in the monumental Forbidden Purple Citadel – characterized by fortified walls, courtyards, palaces, temples and imperial mausoleums (including the Tu Duc mausoleum) – preserves the pagoda Thien Mu (17th century). Noteworthy is the old historic center of Hoi An (15th-19th century; Japanese covered bridge in pagoda style, 16th century). A strong French imprint reveal Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), with buildings such as Notre Dame Cathedral and the Post Office (prog. G. Eiffel) in Ho Chi Minh, which also preserves temples and pagodas in the Chinese quarter; the neo-Gothic cathedral of St. Joseph (1886) and the presidential palace (1906) in Hanoi, where the monumental marble Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh (1973-75) also stands.
Vietnamese music is directly connected to Chinese music, not only in the metaphysical conception, but also in the layout of the scales, all but two of them pentaphonic. The melodies, mainly in binary meter, also welcome the ternary meter typical of Indian music. Like the Chinese ones, Vietnamese musical instruments are divided into 8 categories. The most characteristic are the dan bâu, a monochord instrument, and the dan day, a particular type of lute. From the point of view of use, four types of music are distinguished: that of minorities (which adopt different scales and instruments); the popular one; court music, also characterized by its own notation system and prerogative of professionals since the 10th century; finally the music influenced by the western tradition.