Bell in the shape of a stupa

Historical period(s)
9th century
Copper alloy
H x Diam: 37.3 × 15.2 cm (14 11/16 × 6 in)
Credit Line
Promised gift of Ann and Gilbert Kinney to the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Long-term loan
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Metalwork, Sculpture


Indonesia, stupa
Provenance research underway.

Bronze bells were important in the ritual culture of Java. They were used to summon monks for their daily activities, purify the air or invoke the presence of a deity. To produce sound, the base was struck with a mallet or wooden hammer whose end was wrapped in cloth--relatively few bells in South and East Asia were made with clappers.

This particularly handsome bell is cast in the shape of a stupa, the hemispherical mound that not only represents the body of the Buddha, but which also, in its built forms across the Buddhist world, serves as a main focus of devotion.  

The body of the bell is adorned with looping garlands suspended from the mouths of lion heads located at the cardinal directions. A tapering double lotus elegantly bridges the transition between body and the tall handle with eleven parasols. Elegantly tapering towards its summit, and enlarged by the parasols, the handle's energetic silhouette contrasts nicely with the rounded body of the bell.

Collection Area(s)
Southeast Asian Art
Web Resources
F|S Southeast Asia
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