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 clapperless 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, perhaps to ensure a community’s agricultural fertility. Later dōtaku had relatively thin walls and would not have resonated, so it assumed their purpose was primarily ritual.