Was this bell used as a weapon possibly?
October 6, 2012 at 8:48 pm #12138
October 8, 2012 at 4:57 pm #17157
It would be nice to get some details on the bell, including some shots at different angles.
What size is it for instance? Is it iron or painted brass? Is the handle original and does it look like it always was a handle?
I can make out some writing on the side (looks like T3 in one section for example) but we need close ups to see the rest.
Typically bells of this type are of one of two forms:
1) Depictions of real items. For example, there are ‘iron maiden’ bells depicting the metal device spiked on the inside, that people were shut up in to impale themselves on when they could no longer stand upright. They are a few inches in size so obviously could not be the real thing.
2) Re-purposed bells. These are items no longer in use or have been broken, or something similar, that have had a handle and/or clapper added to make them into unusual bells. Most commonly these are of farm machinery parts.
If you are only looking for a guess, and bearing in mind that I am working from limited data, I’d suggest that you are looking a re-purposed mining tool part. Looks to me like possibly part of some sort of drill bit for one of those large plate like drills used in coal mining or drilling tunnels. But remember, this is a guess from limited information so only use it as a starting point!
October 8, 2012 at 9:42 pm #17158
This is the information that I have about the bell:
It is a four paneled heavy Chinese iron bell. The sides contain each 9 sharp points, 36 in all. Size of the bell 4 1/2 inches at either end, at middle 4 inches, so it cannot be set in upright position.
I also have that it’s a Huin (?) Chung chinese bell. Not sure of the spelling or what exactly it means.
The handle looks original.
Any help would be appreciated!
October 9, 2012 at 2:42 am #17159
No problem George!
I am sure we will try and help.
Does it hold a magnet? (confirms if it’s iron) Most of the Chinese ones are bronze though.
Do you have a close up photo of the handle?
Photo of the side?
Photo of the underside (looking in) so that we can see the clapper and how it’s hung?
Also, may I ask where you got the Chinese info? It’s interesting; The sides in the photo do seem to show some sort of imprint and it sure looks like a T3 to me. That’s not Chinese marks. The rest of the style is quite Chinese so perhaps what I see in your photo is simply a trick of light.
The circular spikes you mention are very interesting. Have a look at this site: http://www.asia.si.edu/collections/singleObject.cfm?ObjectNumber=F1941.9. Many of these bells also have a boat shaped profile on the skirt as well so that they don’t sit upright just as you describe on yours. They also “include thirty-six evenly spaced bosses (mei) cast into the body.” usually in patterns of 3×3 panels. From what I can tell, The numbers 6, 8, and 9 are believed to be auspicious because their names sound similar to words that have positive meanings. The ‘spikes’ actually represent snails, which symbolize the ‘expanding consciousness’ and also has connotations to the waxing and waning of the moon. This is a Chinese Buddhist Bell!
October 10, 2012 at 1:03 am #17160
If you can get next to L. Elsinore Springer’s book ” The Collector’s Book of Bells” and check out page 43, you will see a similar bell depicted!
October 18, 2012 at 2:19 am #17156
Sorry I took so long to get back on my post. Here are some more pictures of the bell. A magnet did not stick to the bell so it is painted bronze.
The infomation I have on the bell is from a pamphlet called “A Selected Number of Bells and Gongs” by A.C. Meyer who is my great-grandfather, who also describes the bell as being a dangerous combination of bell and weapon. My grandmother describes the bell as being a Huin Chung bell, which I cannot find any information about. Looking at a publication called “A Guide to the Bells of the Orient” by Sidney Gelman on page 15 has a picture of a Tiger Bell which looks similar.
October 18, 2012 at 3:59 pm #17161
No Problem! Life does tend to get in the way of ‘wants’ !
I still believe, at this time, that you are looking primarily at a Chinese Buddhist bell, though. Hollow awkward shaped objects generally don’t make very good clubs. I notice that even the handle is hollow, meaning it would probably break off after a good hit or two. If I was in any sort of fight, I doubt that this would be anywhere near my ideal weapon of choice! Of course anything can be used in desperation.
But the design and decoration is pretty close to identical to other Buddhist bells. They do come in different sizes and styles ranging from great big ones that are hung and struck with essentially small logs to very tiny wearable ones. Did you check out the website?
I suspect you are looking at one meant for something like a monastery, and used to call attention for meals or to attend prayer or some such. I envision someone walking through the area ringing the bell like a town cryer.
I’ll keep looking to see if there are any other references to this type of bell being used for another purpose though.
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