Important Cultural PropertyRitual Bell with flowing water design

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  • Excavated in Kehi, Toyo-oka-city, Hyōgo Prefecture
  • 4 pieces
  • Yayoi period/2nd-1st century BC
  • Tokyo National Museum
  • J-7123~J-7126

These four dotaku (bronze bells) were accidentally found behind rock during quarrying operations in 1912.
 Among the four development stages of dotaku, both of them belong to the second stage (gaientsuki-chushiki). The body of each dotaku is decorated with a delicate flowing water pattern and elaborate paintings of animals or people. There is a row of deer (a human-like figure is also cast in the center) on the body of the No. 1 dotaku and creatures like reptiles are placed face to face on the knob. While a deer is depicted on the knob of the No. 2 dotaku, the No. 3 dotaku has a deer on the knob and dragonflies, fish, soft-shelled turtles and human figures on the body, while the No. 4 dotaku has a row of deer and human figures on the body. These dotaku paintings tell us about the living environment and spiritual world of the people in the Yayoi period.
Among these dotaku, there are some "dohan dotaku," dotaku cast in the same mold. The No. 2 and No. 5 dotaku of Kamoiwakura, Shimane are dohan dotaku whereas the No. 4 dotaku is dohan dotaku with the No. 21 dotaku of Kamoiwakura, the dotaku excavated from Mt. Toki, Osaka and those excavated from Inomukai, Fukui. Moreover, it has been found that the No. 3 dotaku was created from a mold that had been excavated from the Higashi Nara Ruins in Osaka. These dotaku are valuable materials for the study of the production and distribution of dotaku. While these dotaku have been treated as valuable materials that support the claim, partly based on the fact that they were found behind rock, that they were buried when outside enemies invaded the area ("dotaku concealment account"), there also remains the possibility that they had been re-buried for some reason.