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An image of Ritual bell and cover by


Ritual bell and cover
Place of origin
18th century
Media categories
Metalwork, Sculpture
Materials used
brass bell; cover: woven cane with leather tie

21.5 x 10.4 cm:

a - bell; 21.5 x 8.5 cm

b - cover; 17.6 x 10.4 cm

Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Gift of J A and H D Sperling 2000
Accession number
Upper Asian gallery
Further information

The bell and thunderbolt (Tibetan: 'dorje'; Sanskrit: 'vajra') are the two most important instruments in Tibetan Tantric (Vajrayana) Buddhist ritual. The 'dorje' (thunderbolt) represents the idea of skill and is thought of as masculine in Tibetan Buddhism. The bell is regarded as feminine and represents supreme wisdom. Here, the bell's handle combines half a thunderbolt shape and the head of the goddess Prajna, who represents wisdom. The top of the bell is inscribed with the petals of a lotus and the body is decorated with a design of jewel-spitting heads called 'kala' (time). A band of thunderbolts at the bottom of the bell completes the design.

Asian Art Department, AGNSW, December 2011

Exhibition history (1)

Conversations through the Asian collections, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 25 Oct 2014–05 Sep 2015