An Imperial gilt bronze temple bell is a highlight at Sotheby’s sale of Fine Chinese Ceramics and works of art in London on November 6. The gilt bronze archaistic temple bell, bianzhong was purchased in China in the late 19th century by Dr. Walter Jennings Milles (1854-1910) who practised in Shanghai for 26 years before retiring to England.
Bianzhong were produced for the court during the Qing dynasty as an essential component of Confucian ritual ceremonies at the imperial altars, formal banquets and processions. This particular bell has remained in the same family collection in Scotland for over 100 years, during which time it became a tradition to use the bell as a dinner gong.
Another highlight is a gilt bronze figure of Shyama Tara, worshipped by Buddhists as a saviour and liberator from samsara, the earthly realm of birth and rebirth. The sale of over 430 lots, including ceramics from the Alfred Beit Foundation, is expected to realise £7.5-11 million.