A rare Imperial gilt-bronze archaistic ritual bell, bianzhong Qianlong mark and of the period, dated to the 10th year, corresponding to AD 1745 (2)

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Lot 37
A rare Imperial gilt-bronze archaistic ritual bell, bianzhong
Qianlong mark and of the period, dated to the 10th year, corresponding to AD 1745

Sold for HK$ 1,480,000 (US$ 189,951) inc. premium
A rare Imperial gilt-bronze archaistic ritual bell, bianzhong
Qianlong mark and of the period, dated to the 10th year, corresponding to AD 1745
Heavily cast with rounded sides and suspended from a gilt handle formed by geometric scrolls, the body decorated in relief with five alternating bands of stylised trigrams and spiralling bosses, interrupted on each side by a rectangular panel, each enclosing an inscribed tablet bordered by ruyi-head scrolls and above a small waisted lotus base, one tablet inscribed with a seven-character mark, 大清乾隆拾年製, 'made in the 10th year of the Qianlong emperor's reign', the other with a two-character mark, 夾鐘 jia zhong , which relates to a classical pitch, the lower body above the base with pairs of archaistic motifs flanking two large plain circular cartouches, later wood stand.
29.6cm (11 5/8in) high (2).

Footnotes

  • 清乾隆 銅鎏金如意鈕「夾鐘」編鐘 「大清乾隆拾年製」楷書款

    Provenance 來源:
    A European private collection

    歐洲私人收藏

    The present lot belongs to a group of bells, which were assembled in sets of sixteen, suspended on wooden frames in two tiers of eight. Together, the bells provided twelve musical tones with four repeated notes in lower or higher octaves. The present bell's inscription, 夾鐘 jia zhong, corresponds to the modern musical scale minor third or E/D-sharp(#); see Z.Wu and K.Taylor-Wu, Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches Tiangan Dizhi, The Heart of Chinese Wisdom Traditions, London, 2014, p.118. Unlike archaic bronze bells from the Shang dynasty, these Qing period instruments created different pitches and notes by the varying thickness of the bell's walls rather than their sizes.

    The bianzhong were required by court protocol for ritual ceremonies and important occasions, including state rituals, court assemblies, formal banquets and processions of the imperial guard. Extremely heavy and expensive to cast, these imperial musical instruments formed an important part of court furnishings. In 1741, the Qianlong emperor set up a music division for court music and chose melodies for specific court functions, see W.Yi and H.Haitao, Qingdai gongting yinyue [Palace Music of the Qing Dynasty], Beijing, 1985, p.13.

    It is rare to find Qianlong bells of this particular shape and cast with decoration of trigrams and spiralling bosses, which are more typical of the Kangxi reign. A very similar bell, also dated to the 10th year of Qianlong's reign but inscribed with 南呂nan lü, is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, gifted by Major Louis Livingston Seaman in 1903, museum no.03.15.3. Compare a full set of sixteen bells, Qianlong, dated to 1779, on a wooden frame, similarly cast with bands of trigrams and bosses but with different handles and more plain circular roundels around the lower body, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated by C.Ho and B.Bronson, Splendors of China's Forbidden City: The Glorious Reign of Emperor Qianlong, Chicago, 2004, p.52, no.43.

    A very similar bell also dated to the 10th year of Qianlong's reign but inscribed with bei yi ze, sold at Christie's New York, 21 March 2000, lot 167; see also a related bell, dated to the 52nd year of the Kangxi emperor, sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 9 October 2007, lot 1327.

    此銅鎏金編鐘本為一套十六枚編鐘其中之一枚。編鐘是中國古代重要的敲擊樂器,因能演奏出不同的旋律而被稱為「編鐘」。編鐘十六枚為一虡,陰陽各八,外形和尺寸相同,以鐘壁的厚薄來區分音之高低,以應十二本律及四倍律。鐘名由低至高依次為:倍夷則、倍南呂、倍無射、倍應鐘、黃鐘、大呂、太簇、夾鐘、姑洗、仲呂、蕤賓、林鐘、夷則、南呂、無射、應鐘。此件為「夾鐘」,既是現代樂器之升D小調(音階之第四音),見Z.Wu及K.Taylor-Wu,《Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches TianGan DiZhi, The Heart of Chinese Wisdom Traditions》,倫敦,2014年,頁118。

    編鐘自青銅時代至清代末期均為祭禮重器,多以玉磬相配,中國傳統文化意義深厚,並非只為鳴奏音樂之用。但凡宮廷儀式、饗神祭孔、宗廟祭祀、宴饗節慶,皆奏禮樂。而乾隆帝好古敏求,博覽史籍,對高古鐘樂所涵蓋之意義有很深了解,並以禮樂鞏固政權,昭明威望,從清宮收藏千餘件高古青銅器中,嚴選成組十一件周朝編鐘,特別設廳展示,並撰御詩嘉賞,以追高古禮儀。乾隆帝於1741年設立樂部,考訂樂律,訂宮廷雅樂樂制,制各宮廷儀式禮樂之歌譜,一直流傳至二十世紀初,見萬依,《清代宮廷音樂》,北京,1985年,頁13。

    此編鐘形制及紋飾仍見康熙遺風,乾隆一例可比較美國大都會博物館藏一件銅鎏金「南呂」編鐘,亦為乾隆拾年製(1745),於1903年由紐約市長捐贈,其紋飾和形制與此件編鐘幾乎一致,博物館編號03.15.3。另見北京故宮博物院藏一虡十六枚清乾隆金編鐘,編鐘上的紋飾及鼓釘與此編鐘類似,見C.Ho及B.Bronson,《Splendors of China's Forbidden City: The Glorious Reign of Emperor Qianlong》,芝加哥,2004年,頁52,圖43。

    紐約佳士得曾售出一件銅鎏金「倍夷則」編鐘,同樣為乾隆拾年製,2000年3月21日,編號167;另見香港蘇富比曾售出一件康熙五十二年製編鐘,2007年10月9日,編號1327。
Contacts
A rare Imperial gilt-bronze archaistic ritual bell, bianzhong Qianlong mark and of the period, dated to the 10th year, corresponding to AD 1745 (2)
A rare Imperial gilt-bronze archaistic ritual bell, bianzhong Qianlong mark and of the period, dated to the 10th year, corresponding to AD 1745 (2)
A rare Imperial gilt-bronze archaistic ritual bell, bianzhong Qianlong mark and of the period, dated to the 10th year, corresponding to AD 1745 (2)
A rare Imperial gilt-bronze archaistic ritual bell, bianzhong Qianlong mark and of the period, dated to the 10th year, corresponding to AD 1745 (2)
A rare Imperial gilt-bronze archaistic ritual bell, bianzhong Qianlong mark and of the period, dated to the 10th year, corresponding to AD 1745 (2)
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