A rare Imperial gilt-bronze archaistic ritual bell, bianzhong Kangxi cast mark, dated to the 54th year corresponding to 1715 and of the period (2)

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Lot 24
A rare Imperial gilt-bronze archaistic ritual bell, bianzhong
Kangxi cast mark, dated to the 54th year corresponding to 1715 and of the period

Sold for HK$ 2,440,000 (US$ 313,663) inc. premium
The Property of a Gentleman 紳士藏品
A rare Imperial gilt-bronze archaistic ritual bell, bianzhong
Kangxi cast mark, dated to the 54th year corresponding to 1715 and of the period
Heavily cast in barrel form, surmounted by a robust double-headed dragon handle, each dragon powerfully modelled with bulging eyes, flaring nostrils and opened jaws revealing tongue and fangs, the details of their manes and scales beautifully rendered in realism, the bulging sides cast with four vertical panels at the cardinal directions, the front panel enclosing Kangxi wushisi nianzhi seven-character reign mark between taiji and yin emblems, the reverse with a two-character inscription nanlü, further flanked on each side panel with raised archaistic dragons set between ruyi and keyfret motifs, all perpendicular to five alternating horizontal bands of raised bosses and pairs of trigrams, all above eight circular disks, box.
31cm (12 1/4in) high (2).

Footnotes

  • 清康熙 御製銅鎏金蒲牢鈕八卦紋「南呂」編鐘
    陽文「康熙五十四年製」、「南呂」款

    Provenance 來源:
    Sotheby's New York, 19 March 1997, lot 25
    A distinguished Asian private collection, and thence by descent

    紐約蘇富比,1997年3月19日,拍品25
    顯赫亞洲私人收藏,後由其家族繼承

    The Qing Court followed Confucian ideals as set out in ancient Chinese classics such as the Book of Rites, Zhou Li, which advocated that rituals should commence with music. Court protocol required that certain musical instruments, including a set of sixteen gilt-bronze bells, bianzhong, be used during state rituals (particularly in the Temple of Heaven and Temple of Agriculture), Court assemblies, formal banquets and processions of the Imperial Guard. The gilt-bronze ritual bells, bianzhong, were therefore an essential part of the Qing Court ceremonies. For an example of the use of the bells, see a painting by the Court painter Giuseppe Casiglione, circa 1755, titled 'Imperial Banquet in Wanshu [Ten Thousand Trees] Garden', illustrated by C.Ho and B.Bronson, Splendors of China's Forbidden City: The Glorious Reign of Emperor Qianlong, Chicago, 2004, pp.92-93, no.101.

    The present lot would have been part of a graduated set of sixteen ritual bells, suspended on sturdy wooden frames in two tiers of eight, each cast in varied thickness to provide a range of twelve musical tones, shierlu (十二律), with four additional repeated notes in lower octaves. These varying tones are cast on the reverse panels of each bell in the following sequence: huangzhong (黃鐘), dalü (大呂), taicu (太簇), jiazhong (夾鐘), guxi (姑洗), zhonglü (仲呂), ruibin (蕤賓), linzhong (林鐘), yize (夷則), nanlü (南呂) (as on the present lot), wuyi (無射), and yingzhong (應鐘). The nanlü tone corresponds to the musical scale of major sixth or the note 'A'.

    The heavily-cast bell, comprising the Eight Trigams around the exterior, is inspired in form by archaic bells of the Western Zhou dynasty (1100-771 BC ), evoking antiquity and continuity. For an example of archaic prototypes excavated from the tomb of the Marquis Zeng, in the Hubei Provincial Museum, see L.von Falkenhausen, Suspended Music: Chime Bells in the Culture of Bronze Age China, California, 1993, p.6, fig.1.

    The double-headed dragon handle surmounting the bell is known as pulao (蒲牢), which according to Chinese legend is one of the nine sons of the dragon. Pulao first appeared in Chinese literature during the Tang dynasty. The Tang dynasty scholar Li Shan (630-689) wrote 'there is a whale in the sea and a creature called pulao at the shores. Pulao is always afraid of the whale, so whenever the whale attacks, pulao will roar loudly.' The form of the bell therefore incorporates the legend as an additional mythical layer, whereby the impact of the striker – the whale – with the bell - pulao - would result in the dragon producing it loud ringing roar.

    Four sets of bells of this heavily-cast form appear to have been produced during the Kangxi period for the Temple of Agriculture in Beijing: two sets cast in the 52nd year (1713) and two sets in the 54th year (1715). Compare a pair of similar bianzhong, dated to 1715 bearing the tones of ruibin (蕤賓) and yingzhong (應鐘) which was sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 1 December 2009, lot 1942 ; see also a similar bianzhong, dated to 1715, cast with a guxi (姑洗) tone, which was sold at Sotheby's New York on 20 March 2012, lot 2012; another also dated to the same year but with the tone of wuyi (無射), was sold at Christie's Hong Kong on 28 November 2012, lot 2253.

    儒家思想尊崇禮樂制度,以音律為戒,彰顯社會及政治倫理。清代制定律法,與音律之律相同,清宮沿襲舊制,但凡宮廷儀式、饗神祭孔、宗廟祭祀、宴饗節慶,皆奏禮樂。通過撞擊編鐘、鳴響相應韻調,照明天子之威儀,有關清宮演奏禮樂之勝景,可見郎世寧與丁觀鵬約1755年所繪「萬樹園賜宴圖」,著錄於C.Ho及B.Bronson,《Splendors of China's Forbidden City: The Glorious Reign of Emperor Qianlong》,芝加哥,2004年,頁92-93,編號101。

    此類編鐘之原型,可見1978年湖北隨縣曾侯乙墓出土的一套六十四枚戰國編鐘,著錄於L.von Falkenhausen,《Suspended Music: Chime Bells in the Culture of Bronze Age China》,加利福尼亞,1993年,頁6,圖1。戰國以後,各朝代的宮廷編鐘通常為十六枚,應十二本律及四倍律,陰陽各八。此御製銅鎏金編鐘本為一虞十六枚編鐘其中之一枚。至康熙時仍保持十六枚一虞制度,其十二律由低至高依次是:黃鐘、大呂、太簇、夾鐘、姑洗、仲呂、蕤賓、林鐘、夷則、南呂、無射、應鐘。康熙年間,用四個倍率(低音)取代之前沿用的四個清聲(高音),分別為:倍夷則、倍南呂、倍無射、倍應鐘,並統一編鐘大小,以鐘壁薄厚來調音。

    此鐘正反面分別鑄八卦紋一組,橫向以鼓釘間隔,前後間以夔龍紋,鐘下方有八個「音乳」,作打擊之用。鐘身鑄蒲牢形鈕,蒲牢為傳說中龍生九子之一,受擊就大聲吼叫,因此多用於作編鐘之獸鈕。此件編鐘之蒲牢鑄造精美,五官及鱗片極為細緻,格外傳神。

    康熙年間,宮廷曾為北京先農壇祭祀典禮鑄造過四套編鐘,其中兩套於康熙五十二年鑄造,另外兩套則與康熙五十四年鑄造,而此編鐘則為其中一件。參看一組清康熙五十四年製八卦紋「蕤賓」編鐘以及「應鐘」編鐘,除音律不同外,其紋飾與此編鐘一致,後售於香港佳士得,2009年12月1日,拍品1942;另見紐約蘇富比售出一例,同樣為康熙五十四年製,音律為「姑洗」,2012年3月20日,拍品2012;香港佳士得亦售出一例同時間鑄造之「無射」編鐘,2012年11月28日,拍品2253。
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A rare Imperial gilt-bronze archaistic ritual bell, bianzhong Kangxi cast mark, dated to the 54th year corresponding to 1715 and of the period (2)
A rare Imperial gilt-bronze archaistic ritual bell, bianzhong Kangxi cast mark, dated to the 54th year corresponding to 1715 and of the period (2)
A rare Imperial gilt-bronze archaistic ritual bell, bianzhong Kangxi cast mark, dated to the 54th year corresponding to 1715 and of the period (2)
A rare Imperial gilt-bronze archaistic ritual bell, bianzhong Kangxi cast mark, dated to the 54th year corresponding to 1715 and of the period (2)
A rare Imperial gilt-bronze archaistic ritual bell, bianzhong Kangxi cast mark, dated to the 54th year corresponding to 1715 and of the period (2)
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