VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Ritual Bell with Crossed Band Design
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

The detailed imagery of these designs offer unique insight into life during the Yayoi period (400 B.C.-A.D. 250). There are, however, differing opinions as to what some of the scenes represent. Similarly, there are various theories about the function of dôtaku and the reasons for their burial. It is a National treasure.

History of the Object
This dōtaku (ritual bell) is said to have been excavated in Sanuki Province (modern Kagawa Prefecture) during the Edo period (1615-1868). It consists of a flat semicircular handle attached to a main body of oval cross-section. The body widens toward the bottom and has narrow flanges extending from the handle down its two sides. The dôtaku is extensively decorated with tooth-, spiral- and herringbone-patterned bands in relief. The upper three-quarters of the main body is divided at the back and front into six panels framed within broad lattice-patterned bands, called "surplice design" (J. kesadasuki mon) because of its resemblance to a Buddhist monk's surplice. The motifs within the framed panels are richly varied. On one side, there are, panel by panel starting at the top right: a dragonfly; a water lizard; a man hunting a deer with a bow and arrow; a figure holding an I-shaped instrument (perhaps a man with a spinning tool); a gable-roofed building, possibly a storehouse, with a raised floor; and two women pounding a mortar. The other side is decorated, again panel by panel from the top right, with: a praying mantis and a spider; a dragonfly; a turtle eating a fish; two herons with fish in their beaks; a man with a bow and arrow and dogs, hunting a wild boar; and a turtle and a lizard. The heads of the men are represented by circles, and those of the women by triangles.

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Type
Archaeological 
Materials
Bronze, 1 
Measurements
Height 43.0cm  
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Japan 
Geography
Japan 
Time period
AD 1st century ~ AD 1st century 
Creation date
1st Century; Yayoi period 
Function
ritual 
Acquisition
It is the current policy of the Tokyo National Museum not to publish the acquisition history of its collection on the Internet. 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
Tokyo National Museum 
Museum
Tokyo National Museum 
Credit line
Tokyo National Museum 

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