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Antique Tibetan Buddhist Prayer Bell

(circa 18th to 19th centrury)



Bronze Tibetan Buddhist ritual prayer bells are a common and indespensable musical instrument in tantric Buddhist ritual. Gods and apotheosized lamas alike hold this popular symbol, along with the thunderbolt in their hands. The bell has an elemental function and its sound is regarded as auspicious; it is said to drive away evil spirits. The Buddhist hand bell sends the message to evil spirits that they must stay away from the consecrated area where the ritual is being perfomed. In ritual, the bell is paired with the vajara. The vajra represents the compassion of the Buddha, the masculine principle; and the bell represents wisdom the female principle. To achive enlightenment, those two principles must be combined. the bell is visualized as the Buddha's body, the vajra is visualized as his mind, and the sound of the bell is visualized as the Buddha's speech in teaching of the dharma. Rining the bell then represents the sound of Buddah teaching the dharma and symbolizes the attainment of wisdom and the understanding of emptiness.


This bell is cast bronze and has a clear crisp sound. The carvings on the outside of the bell are nicely done, on the top of the bell shape are 8 glyphs. On the bell side are 8 mask figures. The patina is dark brownish with natural wear. On the handle is a Buddah's head, front & back on the very top is a dorje(stylised eagle claw) handle. The bell is probably from the late 18th - 19th century. It is approx 7 inches high and the base is aprox 3 1/4 inches wide. It is hard to capture the sound of the bell becasue of microphone saturations, but.....