China, Early Eastern Zhou Dynasty
Spring & Autumn period 770-476 BC
Height: 48-38 cm
Metallurgical Test report & X-ray, CIRAM
Private Collections, Japan 2004 & 2014
These ancient ritual bells, were mallet struck instruments, which were suspended downwards from a frame. The hanger is elaborately shaped in the form of two back to back mythical dragons. The body is decorated with three rows of high relief nodules, which probably had an acoustic function. Bronzes such as these would have been cast, probably in ceramic moulds. Decorative motifs were similar on jades of this period.
Bronze artefacts were costly and time consuming to make. They were therefore status symbols, which could only be afforded by the royalty and nobility of the period.