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Gallery Text

Music played a crucial role in the state rituals of late Bronze Age China. Believed to unify the thought and conduct of multitudes through melody and rhythm, it was also seen by philosophers as a manifestation of virtue. Among the many percussive, string, and wind instruments Bronze Age societies used in ceremonial rites, none loomed quite as large as magnificent bronze bells. Chinese musical bells were created in graduated sets, with each bell cast to a different size and tuned to a different pitch. The bells do not have interior clappers, but are instead completely hollow and must be struck on the exterior with a mallet or pole to emit their sound. Almond-shaped in cross-section, each bell produced two distinct tones, depending on whether it was struck near its center or side edge. Bells were cast by the same method used for bronze vessels; not surprisingly, they often have similar decorative patterns.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
1943.52.180
Title
Ritual Bell (Bo zhong) with Stylized Dragon and Snake Decor and with Handle in the Form of Addorsed Birds
Other Titles
Alternate Title: po chung
Classification
Ritual Implements
Work Type
bell
Date
475 - 221 BCE
Places
Creation Place: East Asia, China
Period
Zhou dynasty, Warring States period, 475-221 BCE
Culture
Chinese
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/204351
Location
Level 1, Room 1740, Early Chinese Art, Arts of Ancient China from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age
View this object's location on our interactive map
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Cast bronze with greenish patina
Dimensions
H. 51.2 x W. 36.8 x D. 31.1 cm (20 3/16 x 14 1/2 x 12 1/4 in.)
Weight 66 lb.
Provenance
Grenville L. Winthrop, New York (by 1943), bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1943.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop
Accession Year
1943
Object Number
1943.52.180
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Exhibition History

S427: Ancient Chinese Bronzes and Jades, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 10/20/1985 - 04/30/2008

32Q: 1740 Early China I, Harvard Art Museums, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu