During the course of the first centuries A.D, Southeast Asian populations began establishing straight ties with the great civilizations of China, to the North and the East, and India, to the West. These relationships were based on close commercial links, Southeast Asia being particulary rich in rare and precious products: woods, spices, metals, textiles, honey, wax, etc.
In the southern part of present day Vietnam - the Mekong delta these relationships have been particularly strong, as shown by the numerous archaeological discoveries made in this area; among these, the excavations made in the ancient city of Óc Eo rank first.
If we except architecture for which very few remains have been discovered so far, the archaeological finds of Óc Eo bear testimony to the originality and high level of technical skill of the local populations: tools and everyday life utensils in stone, terra cotta or metal. In the artistic field, the aesthetic achievement of the so - called Óc Eo “Culture” is mostly witnessed by numerous pieces of ornament (ring, necklaces, bracelest) in gold, bronze or tin and a great number of semi-precious and glass beads that were part of so-phisticated jewels.
From the first centuries of the current era onwards, together with the tradi-tional Southeast Asian animistic rellgious traditions, the main Indian faiths that are Buddhism and Hinduism are widely attested in the region. Various high quality images in stone or bronze representing the Buddha and Buddhist deities (bodhisattva) as well as some of the main gods of the Hindu pantheon (such as Siva, Visnu or Surya) attest to the importance of Indian religions in this early stage of development of nowadays Vietnam.