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date: 17 January 2021


  • David W. Hughes


Japanese spherical bell of great antiquity and variety (suzu: ‘tin’). (The same Chinese character pronounced differently can refer to the Rei, a different type of bell.) The suzu is typically a hollow metal sphere (although ceramic ones are known) with a slit approximately halfway around the circumference, resembling a Western ‘jingle-bell’ or crotal. Some have metal pellets inside; others are strung together in a cluster or along a wire and jingle against each other. The sistrum-like ‘bell tree’ called suzu consists of two or three rings of tiny bells attached to a wooden handle; it is shaken by dancers in Shintō shrine and court dances. A huge suzu some 30 cm in diameter hangs in front of some Shintō shrines in place of the usual Waniguchi slit gong (for illustration see Bell §3). Several tiny suzu in a bundle are shaken to provide accompaniment for packhorse drivers’ folksongs when performed on stage, in imitation of the similar horse bells. The ...

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