[ Exhibits ]

October’s Instrument of the Month

Dbang Dung
October 10, 2017

This month, the Collection of Musical Instruments is displaying a Sea Dragon Horn as its featured instrument. Traditionally referred to as the Dbang Dung, this Eastern Tibetan horn is a little more than a foot in length with a brass mouth piece indicative of an early brass horn. The narrow body terminates in the head of a serpent with jaw opened wide and a thin brass tongue poking out. Made primarily from light brass and possibly other metal alloys, it has what appears to be three shades of metal coloration. It is unclear whether these colors are due to discoloration over time or purposeful. Turquoise gemstones adorn the dragon’s head. Believed to be acquired sometime before the Chinese invaded Tibet in the 1950s, the Sea Dragon Horn was used in rural areas to call the attention of townfolk to ceremonies and festive occasions.

The Sea Dragon, known in Sanskrit as Makara, is a common mythological being relevant in both Hindu and Buddhist iconography. In Hindu mythology, the Sea Dragon is the animal-vehicle of the Hindu God Ganga, the River Goddess. Tibetan Buddhism, on the other hand, developed a rather different view of the Sea Dragon as a symbolic weapon. Sea Dragons remain viewed as creatures of great tenacity and strength in Tibet.

The Dbang Dung was donated to the Collection by Theodore Woolsey Heermance along with many other instruments within his possession in the 1980s.

We invite you to come to 15 Hillhouse Avenue to view the Dbang Dung in person before it returns to our holdings!

 

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