Japanese and Chinese antiques and art from B & C
Rare Early Sambaso Dancer Rattle Suzu Bells

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Japanese: Devotional Objects: Pre 1900: item # 1187787

Please refer to our stock # 9-119A39 when inquiring.

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B & C   Antiques
P. O. Box 291
Derby, CT 06418

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Rare Early Sambaso Dancer Rattle Suzu Bells

This unusual cluster of Japanese hand bells, called “suzu” bells, was actually once used by an actor portraying a Sambaso dancer. Late Edo/early Meiji period (mid-1800’s). There is a wooden handle, an engraved brass hand plate and fittings, and thirteen brass bells on three rungs -- two bells on the top rung, four in the middle and seven on the bottom.

Sambaso is an auspicious ritual dance of ancient origin which was intended to appease the gods and bring good fortune. The Sambaso is supposed to have originated in the 9th century as a religious dance to thwart earthquakes. The Sambaso dance was performed at the beginning of the New Year at the start of the Kabuki season and before certain Noh plays, and it has served as a prelude to theatrical performances since the establishment of theater in Japan. The dancer wears a high hat with a red sun disc on either side, and he carries and shakes a rattle with bells. The sound of the bells was an important part of the Sambaso’s dance, and his dancing figure is said to be auspicious for good times. Suzu bells were once used to drive off demons. (A similar cluster of bells is on display at the Museum of Noh Artifacts in Sasayama, Japan.) The last photo shows a Sambaso dancer doll holding his suzu bell rattle. It is included only to illustrate how these bells would actually be held and used by the dancer.

CONDITION is very good, and the sound produced by these rare theatrical bells is really quite wonderful. There is some wear consistent with age and usage, including an early age crack along the wood handle and rust on some of the bells.

DIMENSIONS: 11 ¼” (28.6 cm) long, approximately 4” (10 cm) diameter.

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