Collections: Asian Art: Bell-Shaped Ritual Object (Dotaku)

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    Bell-Shaped Ritual Object (Dotaku)

    Although the dotaku shape suggests the bronze bells of late Zhou Dynasty China (475–221 B.C.), the walls arc too thin to resonate. However, the original purpose of the earliest dotaku, which have relatively thick walls and are small in size, was to make a sound when struck with a stick or clapper. These groups of ritual objects were huried on hills overlooking rice paddies and are thought to have been intended as offerings to propitiate the nature spirits whose goodwill was essential to Yayoi farners, hunters, and fishermen.

    • Medium: Bronze
    • Place Made: Japan
    • Dates: 100-300 C.E.
    • Period: Middle-Late Yayoi Period
    • Dimensions: 34 1/2 x 11 1/2 in. (87.6 x 29.2 cm)  (show scale)
    • Collections:Asian Art
    • Museum Location: This item is not on view
    • Accession Number: 67.198
    • Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Milton J. Lowenthal
    • Rights Statement: Creative Commons-BY
    • Caption: Bell-Shaped Ritual Object (Dotaku), 100-300 C.E. Bronze, 34 1/2 x 11 1/2 in. (87.6 x 29.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Milton J. Lowenthal, 67.198. Creative Commons-BY
    • Image: overall, 67.198_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2014
    • Catalogue Description: Bronze in the form of a cone with flat top surmounted by an arc-shaped handle (the arc is described as kobangata, one ancient form of oval gold coins). The side view of the body is spindle-shaped. The bronze arc, which was probably used to handle the Dotaku like a bell, is in the plane of the wider diameter, and runs down the sides of the Dotaku in two vertical flanges. The body of the Dotaku is separated by five horizontal bands and one vertical (kesatasuki) on each side of the body, dividing each side of the Dotaku into 9 sections. Within the dividing bands which are formed by raised double and triple lines, are linear designs of lozenge shape. The lower band is formed by three horizontal, parallel, raised lines. Each of the top two sections is pierced by a square and is undecorated. There is also a hole on the flat top of the Dotaku. Of the six middle sections, the four upper ones are undecorated and the two lower sections contain raised triangular designs. Below the three raised lines, the section that constitutes the foot of the bell is undecorated. Rising from the rim of the arc are decorations in the form of opposed spirals and some half-spirals. Condition: Large area missing along the edge where the two main sides of the dotaku join and including a large part of the foot-rim. The two vertical flanges along the sides of the body formed by the arc of the handle are fragmentary. One of the opposed spirals decorations rising from the rim of the arc is missing. Near the missing section on f the lower side of the Dotaku, a piece has been broken and repaired. There is also a hole in the body near this missing section with cracks and repairs above it. There is also a crack on the other side, in the vertical flange which extends down from the arc under the pair of half-spirals rising from it.
    • Record Completeness: Good (72%)
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