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Images from The Beede Gallery

Hand Bell (Dril bu), Tibet, 20th Century

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NMM 4927.  Hand bell, Tibet, 20th century.  Right side.

NMM 4927.  Hand bell (dril bu), Tibet, 20th century. Two-piece, copper-based alloy construction. Iron clapper. Bells play an integral part in monastic ensembles, sounding either continuously or in short deliberate bursts. Five-pronged handle representing the central axis of the universe and the four cardinal directions. Held in the left hand, "of wisdom," in combination with the sacred scepter.

The handle is decorated at the top with a ritual half scepter (rdo rje), which has 5 prongs. Each prong emerges from a sea dragon's (makara) mouth. Below the makaras is the crowned head of a Buddha. The body of the bell features at the top, 8 "seed syllables" that represent the 8 female deities, each inscribed on the petal of a lotus flower; below this are 16 stylized faces of deities; while the lower rim features a row of vertically aligned scepters. Gift of Neil W. Goeppinger, Boone, Iowa, 1990.

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