Name/TitleBell of King Seongdeok, (聖德王) Gyeongju Museum, NT 29
About this objectMade of bronze, weighing almost 19 tons and at 3.75 m tall, this is the largest extant bell in Korea. It was commissioned by King Gyeongdeok (景德王,r. 742–765) in honour of his father, King Seongdeok (聖德王, r. 702–737), but only cast in 771 after his death. It was placed in Bongdeoksa (奉德寺), a Buddhist temple in the southwest of the peninsula.
It is unique among known bells in Korea as it includes a small hollow tube near the hook. This, along with its unusual structure, produces a wide range of sound frequencies as the tube absorbs high frequency waves, contributing to its distinctive sound.
The hanging ring is comprised of two dragons, each with a reverberation pipe behind their heads. The body of the bell has decoration of peony plants and lotus flowers. Two apsaras holding incense burners [see EXH60, EXH61] are kneeling facing each other and between them is an inscription detailing the making of the bell and the people involved.
Bells were used to mark the time of day and of Buddhist ceremonies.
Subject and Association KeywordsLiving in Belief
Medium and MaterialsBronze
Measurements3.75 m H; 2.27 m diameter at lip; 18.9 tons.
Credit LineGyeongju Museum
Object numberEXH56: Korea NT 29