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Bell with a vajra handle

Photo: Susan A. Cole

Bell with a vajra handle

12 - 13th century

Bells and vajras (pronged implements—vajra in Sanskrit means “thunderbolt” and “diamond”) are often used in Buddhist liturgies. When used as a pair, the bell, symbolizing wisdom, is held in the left hand and the vajra, symbolizing compassion, is held in the right. This is an exceptional example of both bell and vajra combined. The handle is adorned with faces of demons and lotus petals. The bell’s body has three bands: the top is encircled with single-pronged vajras, the bottom with three-pronged vajras, and the center includes a crossed vajra, a three-pronged vajra, and flaming jewels.
Gilded bronze
9 1/4 x 4 1/4 x 1/4in.
Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection
Photo: Susan A. Cole
Now on view at the Asian Art Museum


Exhibition HistorySeattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, "Luminous: The Art of Asia", October 13, 2011 - January 8, 2012

Tokyo, Japan, Suntory Museum of Art, "Luminous Jewels: Masterpieces of Asian Art From the Seattle Art Museum", July 25 - September 6, 2009; Tour Schedule: Kobe City Museum, September 19 - December 6, 2009; Yamanashi Prefectural Museum of Art, December 23, 2009 - February 28, 2010; MOA Museum of Art, March 13 - May 9, 2010; Fukuoka Art Museum, May 23 - July 19, 2010

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Asian Art Museum, Discovering Buddhist Art - Seeking the Sublime", July 9, 2003 - June 3, 2005

San Francisco, California, M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, "Treasures of Japan", 1960 (1960)

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, "Japanese Art In The Seattle Art Museum", 1960 (1960)

Tacoma, Washington, Tacoma Art League, "Collections Of Puget Sound", 1957 (1957)

Pomono, California, Los Angeles County Fair, "One World OF Art", 1951 (1951)

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, "A Thousand Cranes: Treasures Of Japanese Art", February 5 - July 12, 1987 (02/05/1987 - 07/12/1987)
Published ReferencesFuller, Richard E. "Japanese Art in the Seattle Art Museum: An Historical Sketch." Seattle, WA: Seattle Art Museum, 1960 ("Presented in commemoration of the Hundredth Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between Japan and the United States of America"), no. 66

Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington, "A Thousand Cranes: Treasures Of Japanese Art", copublished by Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA, 1987, ill. p. 34

Kawai, Masatomo, Yasuhiro Nishioka, and Yukiko Sirahara, es. "Luminous Jewels: Masterpieces of Asian Art From the Seattle Art Museum", 2009, The Yomiuri Shimbun, cat. no. 7.

Sheets, Hilarie M. "Reframing the question, 'What is Asian art?'" The Art Newspaper, no. 320 (February 2020): p. 25, reproduced.

Seattle Art Museum acknowledges that we are on the traditional homelands of the Duwamish and the customary territories of the Suquamish and Muckleshoot Peoples. As a cultural and educational institution, we honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future. We also acknowledge the urban Native peoples from many Nations who call Seattle their home.

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