Gong with Carved Dragon and Eight Trigrams
Qing dynasty (1644-1912)
bronze and gold lacquered wood
52 x 38 x 9
The gong may have been introduced into China sometime during the Sui dynasty (581-618 C.E.) by peoples from the north. Gongs are percussion instruments used in dances, songs, theater, and rituals. The reverberating sound is an indefinite pitch made by a felt- or leather-covered mallet striking the gong's center. In general the gong is associated with prosperity. This particular gong is embellished with a carved gold dragon and the eight Daoist trigrams. The eight trigrams are believed to have been developed during the Western Zhou dynasty (c. 1050 - 771 B.C.E.). Depending on the configuration of whole or broken lines, the trigrams symbolize heaven, earth, water, fire, dampness, wind, thunder, or mountains. In association with each other, the trigrams form hexagrams, which are then used to create a method of interpreting the world-at-large. The appearance of dragons, waves, and wave crests on the gong signify sea dragons. The sea dragon traditionally dwelt over a cache of enormous wealth and splendor that it might share with bold visitors already endowed with good fortune.
Eberhard, pp. 84-85, 298, 311
--K. Johnson Bowles, 2006, Reflecting Centuries of Beauty: The Rowe Collection of Chinese Art