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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.
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.
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