Large Temple Brass Gong (Kyi-zi)
length: 36cm, height: 25.5cm, thickness at widest point: 2.3cm
Triangular brass gongs or chimes such as this example were, and still are, hung in temples in Burma and are struck by a monk or novice whenever the temple receives a donation from a worshipper – the ring of the bell calls out to announce the act of merit. They were also struck by monks to mark their pre-dawn rising, their devotions, meal times and evening retirement (Conway, 2006. p. 24).
Most examples are barely larger than an out-stretched hand but this is one of the largest (and heaviest having been shaped from a thick piece of solid brass) we have seen.
It was acquired in the UK and no doubt was brought back during the colonial era as a souvenir, although was mots probably already old when it reached the UK. The sides have a particularly dark patina and so a dating of perhaps the 18th century is feasible. Thick wire formed as a handle has been threaded through the hole that is drilled to the top of the gong to allow the gong to be suspended. The wire itself has a fine patina suggesting the considerable age of the gong. Conway (2006, p. 24) illustrates an example of identical form at Wat Maha Kaew in the Shan Keng Tung State which is said to date to the sixteenth century. May such gongs according to Conway are ‘ancient.’
The gong has a particularly pleasing and long-lasting chime when struck.
The Shan: Culture, Arts & Crafts, River Books, 2006.
Burmese Crafts: Past and Present, Oxford University Press, 1994.
UK art market
Inventory no.: 2146