|Shilla Kingdom Artworks
-- from Gyeongju and elsewhere --
CHA: This bronze bell, the largest existing in Korea, is 3.33m high, 2.27m in rim diameter,
11~25 cm in wall thickness, and weighs about 25 tons.
King Gyeongdeok of Silla started casting the bell to honor the virtue of his father King Seongdeok,
but he didn't see the completion, and afterwards it was completed by his son King Hyegong (771)
and named Sacred Bell of King Seongdeok. It is also known as other names; Bell of Bongdeok-sa
Temple named after the temple where it was hung at first, and Emille Bell (mommy bell) derived
from a legend that a baby was sacrificed to produce its sound.
On the top, it has a hollow tube which is designed to control tone, and this is a unique structure
of Korean bronze bells. Beside the tube, the yongnyu (dragon hook), the hook of the bell, is
carved in the shape of a dragon's head. Two wide bands, in which have flower patterns in relief,
stretch around the rim and shoulder. Below the shoulder bands, it has four panels, each
containing nine relief nipples in lotus flower shapes. A set of two apsaras (heavenly maidens) is
cast in relief around the center, and the dangjwa (striking point) is raised in the shape of a lotus
flower between apsaras. The rim's shape, extended with several rhombic corners, makes its
unique style. Its splendid patterns and carving skills represent the zenith of the United Shilla art.
It also has inscriptions telling about its history in two places of the body. The inscriptions,
consisting of about one thousand Chinese characters, show brilliant writing and carving style.
It is one of Korea's finest heritage items, more than one thousand and three hundred years old.
|The Seongdeok-daewang-sinjong [Sacred bell of Great King Seongdeok]
or Emille Bell National Treasure #29