Object of the Day

The Smithsonian’s Largest Drum

January 11

This massive bronze drum, more than four feet wide, was made in the sixth-to-eighth centuries and is one of the biggest drums of its kind in the world. During the first millennium, this type of instrument was a key part of rituals across southern China and neighboring Southeast Asia, including the islands of Indonesia. It is decorated with abstracted coins, woven mats, birds, frogs, and the sun, all important symbols for the agricultural societies that created and played these drums.

Image for Drum of Lingshan type

Drum of Lingshan type

Smithsonian Museum
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Former owner
Virginia and Edward T. Chow (1910 - 1980)
Estate of Virginia Chow
Sotheby's (London)
The Virginia & Edward Chow Foundation
Provenance
From at least 1964 to 1992
Virginia (d. 1992) and Edward Chow (1910-80), Geneva, Switzerland. [1]
From 1992 to 1994
Estate of Virginia Chow. [2]
1994
Sotheby's, London sale on June 7, 1994, lot no. 12. [3]
1994
The Virginia and Edward Chow Foundation, Geneva, Switzerland, purchased at auction of Virginia Chow Estate, Sotheby’s, London, June 7, 1994, lot no. 12. [4]
From 1994
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of The Virginia and Edward Chow Foundation, Geneva, Switzerland. [5]
Notes:
[1] Curatorial Remark 4 in the object record. Also see letter from David D. Chow dated, October 22, 1994, copy in object file, Collections Management Office.
[2] Curatorial Remark 4 in the object record. Also see memorandum dated May 12, 1994 and April 4, 1994, copies in object file, Collections Management Office. According to Thomas Lawton’s statement in the memorandum dated April 4, 1994, Virginia Chow inherited the collection after Edward Chow’s death. Virginia Chow passed away in 1992, and her estate was settled in 1994.
[3] See note 2.
[4] See note 2.
[5] See note 2. Also see Freer Gallery of Art Purchase List after 1920 file, Collections Management Office.
Credit Line
Gift of the Chow Foundation in memory of Virgina and Edward Chow
Type
Metalwork
Musical Instrument