Conch shell trumpet


British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

In Buddhist temples in Tibet and China, the conch was used to call the monks to services, and were usually decorated with textile streamers. This conch trumpet is a very fine example of the brilliant colours and intricate workmanship of Tibet. The shell is mounted with a gilt copper mouthpiece. The other end is elongated for decorative purposes, allowing the attachment of a stylized metal pennant. A very lively gilt copper dragon stands in high relief against a background of clouds. The scales of his body and tail have applied semi-precious stones, and the end of his tail is a flame. Each claw holds a metal conch shell.From the fourteenth century onwards, China was greatly influenced by Tibetan Buddhism, and objects used in Buddhist rituals reflected this. The monk's cap ewer, similar to a Tibetan monk's cap, the conch and the kundika (water sprinkler) are examples of forms adopted for Chinese Buddhist practices.


  • Title: Conch shell trumpet
  • Date Created: 1700/1899
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 44.00cm; Width: 25.00cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: gilded
  • Subject: dragon
  • Registration number: 1992,1214.16
  • Place: Found/Acquired Tibet
  • Material: gold; copper; copper alloy
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Donated by Schmitt, Johannes Nikolaus. Donated by Meade, Mareta

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more

Flash this QR Code to get the app
Google apps