Bell-shaped Incense Container

  • Muromachi to Edo periods
  • 14-18c
  • Wood
  • H-6.3 D-5 W-4.3
Catalogue Entry

This small wooden bell is coated with gold paint on the exterior and its base is entirely covered with ink. The base has been thinly gouged out and a jewel‐shaped clapper has been formed. From the top of the bell to the interior carving, it is a diameter of 4 mm and a depth of approximately 2.5 cm, making the form extremely narrow. There appear to be small bore holes, and it appears that this was originally a bell which would have been taken from the top and held by a sculpture from an Esoteric Buddhist sect.

The lotus flower pattern which would normally decorate the shoulders of such a bell has here been abbreviated into an array of radiant lines.
Today this bell has been fitted with a hinoki wood base and is used as the lid of an incense container for the tea ceremony. This reuse of this lovely, pale gold bell indicates the feeling of its first owner, loathe to throw away such an unusual treasure.