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.
ca. 3rd century B.C.E.
17 1/2 x 9 x 5 3/4 in. (44.5 x 22.9 x 14.6 cm) (show scale)
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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)
overall, 2003.3.1_transp5892.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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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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