Conch shell

DATE:
19th century
MATERIAL AND TECHNIQUE:
Shell, silver, coral, turquoise, silk, and jade
CLASSIFICATION:
Sound devices
DIMENSIONS:
Overall: 30 1/2 x 9 1/4 x 6 in. (77.47 x 23.495 x 15.24 cm)
DEPARTMENT:
Arts of Asia
LOCATION:
304 SNAIL GALLERY
CREDIT LINE:
Dallas Museum of Art, gift of David T. Owsley via the Alconda-Owsley Foundation
OBJECT NUMBER:
2009.15.2

General Description

The white conch shell, usually decorated with ribbons, precious beads, and a silver mount inlaid with gemstones, is a ritual musical instrument in Tibetan Buddhism. Blowing the conch shell produces an otherworldly sound. While similar conch shells were used in India to initiate battle, like a war trumpet, this conch shell was used in high-level initiations of Buddhist monks. The relief figures on the silver mount represent bodhisattvas and other Buddhist holy figures.

Excerpt from

  • Anne Bromberg, Label text, All the World's a Stage: Celebrating Performance in the Visual Arts, 2009.