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Bảo tàng lịch sử Quốc gia

Vietnam National Museum of History

09/05/2018 19:51 840
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Van Ban bell, bronze, Tran dynasty, 13th-14th centuries AD., discovered in 1958 AD., Do Son coastal area, Hai Phong province

Van Ban bell, bronze, Tran dynasty, 13th-14th centuries AD., discovered in 1958 AD., Do Son coastal area, Hai Phong province

The bell’s handle is decorated with two scaled back-to-back dragons with a lotus-bud at the top. The bell has six round knobs decorated with a blossomed lotus motif. The bell’s mouth is flared and its edge is decorated with 52 small and large lotus petals in relief.

The bell’s body is carved with Chinese inscriptions which tell the story of monk Dai O who cleared the land and constructed the pagoda and those who dedicated their land for the construction of the pagoda. They were “Thi ve nhan dung thu” Nguyen Van Kip, his wife, Chu Thi Trai, and her elder brother, Chu Lam. Especially, the inscriptions reveal that the bell was given to the pagoda by a “Ta boc xa” mandarin. The inscriptions also advise future generations to continue contributing to the pagoda in order to preserve and prevent it from destruction, as well as to keep worshipping. Contributions from devotees should be used for rituals and ceremonies.

Especially, some titles of the court were carved on the bell. According to Quan chuc chi in Lich trieu hien chuong loai chi by Phan Huy Chu, the title “ta boc xa” was a position in the Tran dynasty, or “thi ve nhan dung thu” was a title only seen in inscriptions during the Tran dynasty. Additionally, the character “Nam” (which was written as “Binh”), one of the ten taboo characters regulated by King Trần Anh Tông, was also carved on the bell. All, together with motifs of a dragon with scales show that it was a bell cast during the Tran dynasty. Thus, the Van Ban bell not only reflects the level of bell casting technique, but also serves as a valuable source for research on the development of art, culture, and religion in Do Son (Hai Phong province) – one of the important Buddhist centers during the Tran dynasty in the 13th – 14th centuries AD.


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