Conch shell trumpet

From Tibet, 18th-19th century AD

In Buddhist temples in Tibet and China, the conch was used to call the monks to services, and were usually decorated with textile streamers. This conch trumpet is a very fine example of the brilliant colours and intricate workmanship of Tibet. The shell is mounted with a gilt copper mouthpiece. The other end is elongated for decorative purposes, allowing the attachment of a stylized metal pennant. A very lively gilt copper dragon stands in high relief against a background of clouds. The scales of his body and tail have applied semi-precious stones, and the end of his tail is a flame. Each claw holds a metal conch shell.

From the fourteenth century onwards, China was greatly influenced by Tibetan Buddhism, and objects used in Buddhist rituals reflected this. The monk's cap ewer, similar to a Tibetan monk's cap, the conch and the kundika (water sprinkler) are examples of forms adopted for Chinese Buddhist practices.

Find in the collection online

Conch shell trumpet

  • Michelle and Suzanna drew the trumpet

    Michelle and Suzanna drew the trumpet

  • By Michelle Wong aged 11

    By Michelle Wong aged 11


More information


M. Willis, Tibet (London, Duncan Baird, 1999)


Height: 44.000 cm
Width: 25.000 cm

Museum number

Asia OA 1992.12-14.16


Schmitt-Meade Collection


Find in the collection online

Related objects

Search highlights

There are over 4,000 highlight objects to explore