Section of a Clapper (Paiban)

Period: Ming dynasty (1368–1644)

Date: early 15th century

Culture: China

Medium: Ivory

Dimensions: W. 1 5/16 in. (3.4 cm); L. 7 3/8 in. (18.7 cm); D. 1/4 in. (0.7 cm)

Classification: Ivories

Credit Line: Purchase, Friends of Asian Art Gifts, 2003

Accession Number: 2003.166


In continuous use since the Tang dynasty, the paiban usually comprises two to six slabs of wood strung together at one end with a cord. It is held vertically and clapped to keep time. Here, a beautifully decorated single length of ivory preserves traces of its original red pigment. Red-colored ivory clappers are known in literature of the Northern Song dynasty (11th century).