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Cast Bronze or Brass Ritual Bell
Sarawak (Malaysia) or Brunei
19th-early 20th century

height: 35.5cm, diameter: 16cm

This  unusual item was collected in Sarawak in the 1960s and is a heavy, well-cast bell with a fierce naga-type head, and bands of lotus petals in high relief on
the body of the bell. A clapper is inside.

The styling is similar to bronzes produced on Java during the late Majapahit period of the 14th and 15th centuries, and possibly shows knowledge of these
bronzes , but the scale and type of casting is similar to all the other casting of large ceremonial kettles, canons (
lantaka) and gongs produced in Sarawak,
Brunei and elsewhere on Brunei during the 19th and 20th centuries. These large-scale bronze items were produced by indigenous casters and were used by
local people as stores of wealth, for display purposes and as a means of exchange.

The bell here is in excellent condition.

References:
Chin, L.,
Cultural Heritage of Sarawak, Sarawak Museum, 1980.
Lunsingh Scheurleer, P., & M.J. Klokke,
Ancient Indonesian Bronzes: A Catalogue of the Exhibition in the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam with a General
Introduction
, E.J. Brill, 1988.

Provenance:
Acquired in the UK, from the estate collection of Dr George Yuille Caldwell (1924-2016). Dr Caldwell, an English-born physician moved to Singapore in the
1950s, from where he built up a collection of mostly Borneo-related textiles and other ethnographica.

Inventory no.: 3956 SOLD