Eight Nested Bowls


Eight Nested Bowls


Nara period, 8th century

Cast leaded bronze

各高5.9~8.0 各口径14.1~19.5


Important Cultural Property

This is a set of eight nested metal bowls. The bowls differ slightly in size, with inside diameters ranging from around 14 to 19 centimeters. They were handed down through Horyuji Temple in Nara and are said to have been used as containers for Buddhist offerings or as tableware for Buddhist monks.
They are made of sahari, an alloy consisting of around 80% copper and 20% tin. With sahari, the shape is formed first and heat is then applied to make the alloy malleable and easy to craft. The objects are finished on a lathe. As a result, the metal is thinned out considerably and the end product feels surprisingly light in the hands.
The exquisite color of the sahari alloy and the simple, well-balanced shape of the bowls certainly provide a treat for the eyes. In fact, the thickness of the bowls varies, while the size and shape of the rims are not a perfect fit either. This suggests that the eight bowls may not originally have been a set. The Shosoin Repository in Nara also contains a set of ten nested bowls, so perhaps this set once contained more bowls, too.

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