Buddhist Shell Trumpet

During a recent trip to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, I visited the musical instruments area because, well, I adore musical instruments. I had remembered the room as being full of European 18th and 19th century guitars and harps. I was thrilled to find that they had an item from Tibet! This item was a gorgeous Buddhist Shell Trumpet.

Buddhist Shell Trumpet

The MFA card reads:

Shell trumpet (dung-dkar)
Probably Tibet, late 19th century
Seashell, silver, semiprecious stones

The dung-dkar is used in Tibetan Buddhist ensembles, where along with other wind instruments, it is invariably played in pairs. Ritual shell trumpets from Tibet are often decorated with silver mounts and semiprecious stones, but this exceptional example is entirely sheathed with silver that is ornately chased with geometric and foliate desings, figures of Chinese zodiac animals, and the eight Buddhist auspicious symbols.

Buddhist Shell Trumpet

Buddhist Shell Trumpet

Buddhist Basics