Important Cultural PropertyRitual bell with crossed band design

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  • Excavated in Ōiwa-yama section of Koshinohara, Yasu-city, Shiga Prefecture
  • 2 pieces
  • Yayoi period/1st-3rd century
  • Tokyo National Museum
  • J-826, J-827

Dotaku are bronze bells unique to Japan that feature the Yayoi culture. Dotaku, which were originally small "bells" about 20 cm high, gradually grew larger and in the process, their function has also changed from a bell to a ceremonial or ritual tool.
These two dotaku can be positioned as those of the most recent type (tossenchushiki type) in the development stages of dotaku. They are called "Kesadasukimon Dotaku" because of the resemblance of the main pattern to kesa (an outer garment worn by priests) or "Kinki-style Dotaku" due to the fact that this type of dotaku spread centering on the Kinki region. Their excellent balanced form demonstrates the advanced casting techniques of that time.
A trend toward larger dotaku has resulted in the production of giant dotaku like the No. 1 dotaku. Each design on the dotaku is expressed by powerful raised lines and in particular, the raised core lines on the horizontal bands are so powerful that they go through fins. This is the largest existing dotaku in terms of both height and weight.
The most outstanding feature of the No. 2 dotaku is the painting applied to the bottom. A design that seems to depict two birds is represented by delicate convex lines like the lines of kyoshimon (saw-tooth pattern) applied to the knob and fins. Birds and deer are two themes that had been applied to dotaku through to the end of its production era and this one represents one of the latest. These dotaku paintings tell us about the living environment and spiritual life of the people in the Yayoi period.
These two dotaku were among 14 dotaku found at the peak of a hill that overlooks the plains on the east coast of Lake Biwa in 1881. In 1962, another ten dotaku were found in a neighboring area. These two dotaku serve as important basic material that supports the interpretation that a large number of dotaku buried together in one place indicates the integration of villages.