Dōtaku (Bronze Bell)

Period: Yayoi period (ca. 300 B.C.–A.D. 300)

Date: 1st–2nd century

Culture: Japan

Medium: Bronze

Dimensions: H. 43 1/2 in. (110.5 cm)

Classification: Metalwork

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1918

Accession Number: 18.68


Produced during the late Yayoi period, the distinctive Japanese bronze bells known as dōtaku are thought to derive from earlier, smaller Korean examples that adorned horses and other domesticated animals. Dōtaku were buried, singly, in pairs, and in large groups—occasionally with bronze mirrors and weapons—in isolated locations, often on hilltops. The purpose of burying the bells remains unclear, although it is often suggested that they were included in rites to ensure a community’s agricultural fertility.