"Bo" bell - ROM2005_3556_1


"Bo" bell

Medium:Cast bronze
Geography: China
Date: 1104-1105 AD
Period: Northern Song Dynasty
14.6 x 22.4 cm
Object number: 933.12.212
Credit Line: Bishop William C. White Collection
On view
Gallery Location:Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Gallery of China

This bell has an interesting history. It is one of a set of 336 bells cast in 1104-1105 AD by the order of the Northern Song emperor Huizong (1100-1126 AD). The inscription 'Dahe' on one face is the key to its past. Close inspection of the surface reveals evidence of tampering; the original inscription has been removed and another added.

In 1127 the Northern Song capital of Bian (modern Kaifeng) was captured by the Jurchen people, a tribe from beyond the Great Wall, who had overrun north China and adopted the Chinese dynastic name of Jin. When they sacked Bian, they apparently took more than two thousand cart-loads of booty; some went to the Jin court and the rest was distributed as gifts. The original inscription probably read 'Dasheng' (great splendour). According to the Jin dynasty (1115-1234 AD) official history, "in 1174 the Superintendent of Ceremonial first maintained that the music of successive periods each had its own name, [and] that the Song musical instruments currently used in the sacrifices to Heaven and Earth violated the temple name of a deceased ruler (Taizong) and should therefore all be scraped clean and renamed." The new name selected for the bells was Dahe (great harmony). This is what is inscribed on the ROM bell, which means that it is one of the 336 bells ordered cast by Huizong.

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