Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Densho

Date:
19th century
Geography:
Japan
Culture:
Japanese
Medium:
Leaded bronze (trace of antimony)
Dimensions:
Height: 25 in. (63.5 cm) Diameter: 11 in. (27.9 cm)
Classification:
Idiophone-Struck-bell-without clapper
Credit Line:
The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889
Accession Number:
89.4.1803
Not on view
In Japanese ceremonies, suspended cast-iron bells are used for signaling during prayer and for calling Buddhists to worship. The densho, or hansho, incorporates many symbolic motifs found in the Far East. The suspension loop (ryuzo) is formed by two dragon heads and a flame; the upper third contains nipples (nyu), a symbol of fertility, and the barren field below (ikenomachi) provides a place for poetry or iconography. The chrysanthemums, a symbol of longevity and happiness, form the striking surface (shuza). This densho, intended for trade, has an additional element—a dramatic confrontation between dragon and eagle—that is atypical. The densho is occasionally heard in the kabuki theater's off-stage ensembles.
Mary Elizabeth Adams Brown
"Musical Instruments in The Metropolitan Museum." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (1978), Vol. XXXV, No. 3, pg. 30-31, ill.

Catalogue of the Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments: Asia, Gallery 27. 2. Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1903, vol. II, pg. 38.

Catalogue of the Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments: Gallery 27. 1. Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1901, vol. I, pg. 38.



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