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The Sounds of Buddhism: Bells, Gongs and Other Buddhist Instruments

The Sounds of Buddhism: Bells, Gongs and Other Buddhist Instruments / Honkan Room 14   August 10, 2010 (Tue) - October 3, 2010 (Sun)

  
Kei Gong, Lotus arabesque design, Heian period, 12th century (National Treasure, Lent by Zenrinji, Kyoto)

In Buddhism, some ritual implements are used specifically to produce sound. These are known in Japanese as "bon'ongu" - literally, "Buddhist instruments." Among the more familiar Buddhist instruments are the bells which sound each morning and evening from bell-towers on temple grounds. Other Buddhist instruments include waniguchi ("crocodile mouth") and unban ("cloud-shaped") gongs, which are hung both inside and outside temple buildings, as well as kei and shoko gongs and mokugyo woodblock instruments used in ceremonies and rituals.

Sound serves to signify transitions within memorial services and rituals, and also to mark the tempo of processions. The use of sound appears to be rooted in the belief that sound inspires a heightened sense of reverence and awakens faith in the hearts of believers.

Buddhist ritual instruments are distinctive in both name and shape. Some, such as bells and gongs in particular, have their origin in the bronzes of ancient China, however clear differences can be seen between the Buddhist ritual bells of Japan and Korea. We hope viewers will take the opportunity to appreciate the unusual shapes and designs, and the functional beauty of Buddhist ritual instruments.

 Major works in this exhibition

* Works listed below are in the TNM Collection unless otherwise indicated.
Kei Gong, Butterfly shape, Excavated from Miyabuchi, Matsumoto-shi, Nagano, Heian period, dated 1001 (Important Cultural Property, Gift of Mr. Takahashi Tamotsu, on exhibit from August 11, 2010)
Kei Gong, Lotus pond design, Excavated at Kinpusen, Yoshino-cho, Nara, Heian period, 12th century (Important Cultural Property)
Kei Gong, Lotus arabesque design, Heian period, 12th century (National Treasure, Lent by Zenrinji, Kyoto)
Waniguchi Gong, Excavated from Miyabuchi, Matsumoto-shi, Nagano, Heian period, dated 1001 (Important Cultural Property, Gift of Mr. Takahashi Tamotsu, on exhibit from August 11, 2010)
Bell, With year inscription, Korea, Goryeo dynasty, dated 1107 (Important Cultural Property, Lent by Nishiarai-daishi Soujiji, Tokyo)
 Related Events

Lecture "Bon'ongu: Musical Instruments for Buddhist Ritual" (In Japanese)
Auditorium, Heiseikan
August 21, 2010, 13:30 - 15:00 (door scheduled to open at 13:00)
Lecture by: Ito Shinji, Curator of Japanese Metalwork


 Related Events

Gallery Talk "Reading the Inscription on a Goryeo Dynasty Konku Gong" (In Japanese)
Room 14, Honkan
August 10, 2010, 14:00
Speaker: Shirai Katsuya, Curator of Korean Art