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Bell

Asian Art

On View: Asian Galleries, West, 2nd floor (China)
This rare cocoon-shape bell is decorated with two stylized animals, possibly tigers with long curled tails, and crosshatches on the left and right sides. Just below the vertical opening in the center of the bronze is a standing bird, perhaps an eagle, with its head turned to the right and wings outspread. Unlike niu bells used in the central plains area of China, like the large bell displayed in the opposite case, bells in the southwestern periphery of the Chinese kingdom had loops on top (from which to hang the bell), are made of thinner and lighter bronze, and have different designs.
CULTURE Dian
MEDIUM Bronze
  • Place Made: Yunnan, China
  • DATES ca. 3rd century B.C.E.
    DIMENSIONS 17 1/2 x 9 x 5 3/4 in. (44.5 x 22.9 x 14.6 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Asian Art
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Asian Galleries, West, 2nd floor (China)
    EXHIBITIONS
    ACCESSION NUMBER 2003.3.1
    CREDIT LINE Anonymous gift
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Dian. Bell, ca. 3rd century B.C.E. Bronze, 17 1/2 x 9 x 5 3/4 in. (44.5 x 22.9 x 14.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Anonymous gift, 2003.3.1. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2003.3.1_transp5892.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 2003.3.1_transp5892.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Tall domed "cocoon" shaped bell with elaborate surface decoration. Semicircular handle decorated with a band of repeated circles within a rope design. From top: quatrefoil flower within a v-shaped collar containing repeated energy spirals. Large diagonal crossed bands filled with energy spirals composed of connected triangles filled in with cross-hatching. On the left and right are two animals, possibly stylized tigers with long curled tails, both filled with same cross-hatched surface decoration. At center, a vertical opening in the bronze. Below opening is a standing bird, maybe an eagle, with head turned to the right and wings outspread. Feathers are delineated. Horizontal band of waves and horizontal band of horses facing right. Overall, patchy blue-green patina and some unpatinated areas. Back: same decoration, except eagle's head turns to left. Interior: undecorated, except for band at bell opening. The bell arrived in a fabric covered fitted storage box that measures 20 ½ (H) x 9 (D) x 13 (W) in. Condition: Bent at right edge and top of back side. Base is uneven. Bronze surface exposed through patination. Need to examine in Conservation; examination of the decoration and patina, check for bronze disease, and one hole. Lender also suggests making a rubbing of surface. A highly distinctive culture existed in the ancient kingdom of Dian, known to us solely by the bronzes unearthed in Yunnan Province on the southwest border of China. Large, domed cocoon-shaped bells are typical forms found in Dian burials. The high quality of decoration on this bell, such as the heraldic bird and the crosshatched bands, is unique. (Gallery Chat Label, 2005)
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    Dian. <em>Bell</em>, ca. 3rd century B.C.E. Bronze, 17 1/2 x 9 x 5 3/4 in. (44.5 x 22.9 x 14.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Anonymous gift, 2003.3.1. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2003.3.1_transp5892.jpg)