Thai temples often had outdoor arcades featuring long rows of gongs of various sizes and designs. The gongs were traditionally given as an act of ‘merit-making’ to the temple and sometimes inscribed with the name of the giver. The primary purpose was to provide the giver with merit for his or her next reincarnation. The larger the gong, the more merit was gained. For the very wealthy, gifts such as reliquary stupas, shrines and whole temples could be given. The gong was, by contrast, a durable, public gift that could be given by a wider range of people.
The gongs were meant to be rung in sequence by visitors to the temple who would drop a coin in a bucket at the end of the row. It was believed that each gong had a unique voice to ask the inhabitants of the spirit world for help in life’s myriad challenges. Typically, monks did not discourage this belief in helpful spirits, though their strict and intellectual Theravada Buddhist religion did not encourage what was believed to be overly wishful and superstitious thinking.
This gong is large one probably cast in the early 20th century. It is bronze, of Northern Thai origin and retains much of its original tone.
- Origin | Thailand
- Dimensions | 61.5"W x 24"D x 63"H
- Age | 20th Century
- Material | Brass
- ID | 23T01244
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