Dong Son culture
3rd century BCE-2nd century CE
25.0 (h) x 14.5 (w) x 9.4 (d) cm
Musée Barbier Mueller, Geneva
© Musée Barbier-Mueller Photograph: Studio Ferrazzini Bouchet
With no successor in animist Southeast Asian art or ritual, the function of the large bronze bells is uncertain. Their form may indicate influence from Han Chinese civilisations. However this bell’s design shows the distinct style of the ancient Dong Son culture of Vietnam. Dating from the period when Dong Son culture dominated bronze production and trade in Southeast Asia, it is embellished with stylised figures and rows of feathers, echoing the headdresses worn by nautical figures on Dong Son drums.