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Emille Bell

Submitted by DottieE on Wednesday, August 10, 2005 - 13:48
Emille Bell
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Sacred Bell of King Songdok-wang
Posted by MarkW on Thu, 2005-08-11 11:01

From the plaque photographed by Dottie:

This bronze bell, the largest of its kind in the Orient, was cast in 771 A.D. during the reign of Hyegong-wang, (r. 765-780), the 36th ruler of the Shilla kingdom (57 B.C. - A.D. 935).

The bell, which is the most impressive example of Shilla metalcraft, is approximately 3.78m (12.24') high and 2.24m (7.35') in diameter and weighs 18.9 tons.

The making of the bell was first undertaken by Kyongdok-wang (r. 742-765) to honor the spirit of his deceased father, Songdok-wang (r. 702-737), according to the lengthy inscriptions on the bell. Kyongdok-wang died before realizing his dream and the bell was not completed until the reign of his son, Hyegong-wang.

The bell is commonly known as the Emille Bell, a name derived from an ancient Shilla term, pronounced "Em-ee-leh", which means "mommy". According to legend, the bell would not ring when it was first cast. It was melted down and a little child thrown into the molten metal as the head priest of the temple, where the bell was being made, was told to do in a vision. When the bell was recast and struck, it sounded like the baby's cries of "Em-ee-leh" when the child was sacreficed.

The hollow tube, which is believed to control the tone, the kneeling apsaras or heavenly maidens, the four pannels, each containing nine nipple-like protrusions, and the lotus and grass designs are all typical of the Unified Shilla period (688-935).

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