Divine Bell of the Great King Seongdeok(Seongdeokdaewang-Sinjong)
新羅聖德大王神鐘 / 신라 성덕대왕 신종
Unified Silla period
Heigh 3.658m, weight 18.908kg±2kg
Unified Silla period, 771
National Treasure No. 29
The bell is the second oldest one of all the Korean bells whose manufacturing dates are known. The massive bronze bell, the largest extant bell in Korea was first housed at Bongdeoksa, the guardian temple of King Seongdeok when finally cast in 771 A. D., the seventh year of the reign of King Hyegong, who was King Seongdeok's grandson and Gyeongdeok's son. After the temple was ruined, it was moved to Yeongmyosa Temple, Gyeongju County Fortress, the old Gyeongju National Museum, and finally to its present location in 1975.
The bell was commissioned by King Gyeongdeok to honor his father, King Seongdeok. However, Gyeongdeok never lived to see the casting of the bell, as he died in 765 A.D.
It measures 3. 658 meters high, 2.27 meters in diameter, and 11 to 25 centimeters in wall thickness.
It may well be a masterpiece of Unified Silla art judging by its beautiful shape and patterns, the careful attention paid to the invisible parts such as the decorative lotus flower patterns on the uppermost plate, and a sound that stirs the deepest emotions.
The hook of the bell is in the shape of a oriental dragon's head. There are many relief patterns on the surface, including flower patterns along the rim and shoulder. There are also reliefs of lotus flowers, grass reliefs, and a pair of two apsarases (heavenly maidens). The striking point of the bell (dwangja) is also in the shape of a lotus and sits between two of the apsarases reliefs. The bottom of the bell is in a rhombic shape, lending it a look unique among bells of the Orient.
The inscriptions on the bell provide detailed information about its history.
<A prayer with an incense burner on his hands>