Bronze bell from a Buddhist temple
Edo period, 17th-18th century AD
Temple bells were used to announce the time of events during the course of the day. They were hung suspended within covered towers, and rung by striking them on the outside on a raised boss using a wooden ram suspended horizontally by ropes. The bell is hung by an integral loop at the top, usually in the form of opposed dragons with the hōjū, or wishing jewel between them.
The matrices of raised nipples around the upper part of the bell derive originally from Chinese bells of the Shang dynasty (about 12th-11th century BC).