Gheṇṭa (prayer bell)


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 684

The bell (dril bu) is the most common musical instrument associated with Tantric Buddhist ritual. Held in the left hand, the dril bu (clapper bell) is always paired with a scepter (dorje), which is held in the right. The scepter symbolizes method, bliss, and male aspects while the bell represents wisdom, emptiness, and the female aspects. Both principles are necessary to achieve Enlightenment. The bell handle traditionally matches in decoration the scepter it is paired with - often with five spokes or points (five representing the five forms of mystical wisdom).

These bells were produced in Java, Indonesia, during the eleventh century. Buddhism flourished in Indonesia at that time, before Islam became dominant in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries

Gheṇṭa (prayer bell), Cast bronze, Javanese

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.