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


Google apps