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Gokorei (Bell with five-pronged handle) with images of four Myōō (Four Vidya-rajas)

Important Cultural Property

Gokorei (Bell with five-pronged handle) with images of four Myōō (Four Vidya-rajas)

Bronze, gilted
H 17.9, D of rim 6.1
Tang dynasty, China 8th century

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 Kongō-rei ritual bells with designs of Buddhist images such as four guardian deities and Myō'ō are called "Butsuzō-rei" (bell with Buddhist images). The bell with a five-pronged handle (goko-rei type) introduced in this article bears a cast design of four Myō'ō images. This bell is considerably decorated: the space between the Myō'ō images is decorated with nanako patterns and flowers rendered with line-carvings, and the handle is decorated with various ornamental belts and complex lotus designs. Each prong has its sub-prong and is connected to the mouth of an ornamental dragon. These modeling features reflect the characteristics of butsuzō-rei bells of the Song dynasty in China. The gold plating over the bell is well preserved. This bell is an excellent example of its kind. There is a square hole between the central prong and one of the side prongs, which was probably used for containing Buddhist relics.
Masterpieces of Nara National Museum. Nara National Museum, 1993, p.121, no.95. 

Accession Number 731-0
Category Decorative Arts
Bibliography Pegasus and the heavenly horses: thundering hoofs on the Silk Road. Nara National Museum, 2008, 255p. (Japanese)
Ultimate sanctuaries: the aesthetics of Buddhist relic worship. Nara National Museum, 2001, 263p. (Japanese)
MYŌŌ: Buddhist deities of wrath and love. Nara National Museum, 2000, 209p. (Japanese)
Masterpieces from the Collection of the Nara National Museum. Nara National Museum, 1997, 350p. (Japanese)
Buddhist images of East Asia. Nara National Museum, 1996, 306p. (Japanese)
Applied art of Japanese esoteric Buddhism. Nara National Museum, 1992, 286p. (Japanese)
Illustrated Catalogue of the Collection of Nara National Museum: Buddhist Implements. Nara National Museum, 1992, 121p. (Japanese)
Sources of Japanese Buddhist art. Nara National Museum, 1978, 403p. (Japanese)