Bronze Nao ( musical instrument ) with Elephant Design

Shang Dynasty ( ca.1600-ca.1050 B.C.)

Hunan Provincial Museum

Hunan Provincial Museum

Nao refers to a kind of bell-shaped percussion instrument. Altogether nineteen big bronzes of Nao were excavated from the same site; each can produce one or two distinctive pitches when struck on different parts. When grouped together, they could be used to perform various ancient musical compositions. Up to now, they are regarded as the earliest musical instruments that can be performed in a group. Therefore, archeologists infer that this bronze Nao may be one of a chime of bells.
At the top of the design, two small elephants with curled noses stand on the two sides of the bronze Nao. The left, middle and right sides are decorated with six tigers, six fishes and eleven nails. The design of the elephants is abstract and mysterious, but looks very vivid and realistic. With complicated and breathtaking design, this is a masterpiece of bronzes of Shang Dynasty.

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  • Title: Bronze Nao ( musical instrument ) with Elephant Design
  • Date: Shang Dynasty ( ca.1600-ca.1050 B.C.)
  • Type: bronze ware
  • Rights: Hunan Provincial Museum
  • External Link: Hunan Provincial Museum