Xia dynasty (2070-1600 BC)
Height 9 cm
Excavated at Erlitou in Yanshi, Henan Province
This Ling bell is narrow at the top and widens out towards the base.
The surface of the object is of a combined-tile shape, with a single wing on one side, and two holes at its apex; in the centre of the top is a bridge-shaped knob. The entire surface is unadorneded. When excavated, this Ling bell was wrapped in several layers of textiles, and there was a jade clapper within the body of the bell. This bronze bell, though simple in design, is of special significance among early bronze works as it is the earliest example in China of a bronze musical instrument with a clapper. Its combined-tile shape derives from the elliptical shape of pottery bells from ancient central China.
As the point of origin of China's combined-tile-shaped bronze bells,it establishes the foundations of Shang and Zhou models of musical instruments, and as such it is of epoch-marking significance in the history of Chinese art.