This type of Chinese bronzea mixture of copper, tin, and often lead that produces a strong metal. bell is called a bo (bó 镈), which is one of the three types of ancient Chinese bronze bells (bo bell 镈钟, niu bell 钮钟, yong bell 甬钟). Different from Western bells, bo are not meant to be swung back and forth to make a sound. Instead, one hits the bo on the outside with a wooden mallet. Almond-shaped from below, it produces two tones depending on whether it is struck near the center or the edge. This bo would have been hung from the loop on the top. The loop is formed by a decoration that looks like a pair of birds. Their bodies face each other while their heads turn back to swallow their cat-like tails. On either side of the bell are eighteen round knobs or bumps. These bumps are called zhongmei (钟枚), and they may have musical and acoustic functions. If you look closely, you will see a small head in the middle of each bump; they are coiled snakes. Low reliefthree-dimensional forms that protrude from a flat surface. dragons cover the bottom of the bell and horizontally divide the three bands of bumps. The greenish surface color (patina) on this bell is the result of having been buried; the owner wanted to hear its beautiful sound in the afterlife. Although made in different sizes, bo are usually quite large in order to generate deep bass notes. Weighing almost 140 pounds, this bell is the largest of a set of four. Together the set could produce eight different notes.
Bronzes have been cast in China for about 3,700 years. Most surviving bronzes of about 1500–300 BCE (roughly the Bronze Agea period of human culture characterized by the initial use of weapons, tools, and other objects made of bronze. in China) are rituala set pattern of behavior for a religious or other kind of ceremony. vessels (礼器) intended for the worship of ancestors, who are often named in inscriptions on the bronzes. Many were specially cast to commemorate important events in the lives of their possessors. Bronze bells—especially increasingly expanding sets—are most closely associated with the late Western Zhou(joe) (ca. 1050–771 BCE) and, especially, the Eastern Zhou (771–221 BCE), when there were numerous localized courts, all of which had to have bell sets for formal occasions that were mostly secular in character (banqueting, feasting, hosting diplomatic events, etc.).
Making a large bronze bell was a costly commission in terms of both material and labor. Its elaborate decoration further emphasizes the high status of bronze bells as a luxury restricted to rulers and the elitea select group that is superior to the rest of a group or society in terms of abilities or qualities.. In Chinese, there is a phrase to express this kind of exclusive and prestigious social status, called “钟鸣鼎食,” which literally means “(listening to) the bell ringing (and) eating from tripods.”
Music played an extremely important role in the Zhou dynastya series of rulers from a single family. and was part of religious and court rituals, banquets, and other important events. Early Chinese thinkers viewed music as a crucial aspect of culture, and they wrote about it with attention to its moral value and its role in a larger cosmological understanding of the world around them. The great Chinese philosopher Confucius was also a talented musician and considered music to be one of the pillars of a properly ordered society. A well-educated man at the time was expected to have advanced knowledge of music. A virtuous ruler should listen to music that was defined by Confucius as “refined, improving and essential for self-cultivationthe development of one’s mind or capacities through one’s own efforts; the cultivation, integration, and coordination of mind and body.” so he could make good influence on his people, thus creating a stable governance.
During the Eastern Zhou period (771–221 BCE), central Zhou authority became increasingly weakened. Meanwhile, regional courts began fighting each other not only for land and political control but also for cultural supremacy. Later in the Warring States Period, described as “rites destroyed and music corrupted (礼崩乐坏),” regional courts got rid of the “properly ordered government” system and created bigger bronze bells with better acoustic functions than those used by the Zhou court. Music was a key part in this display of superiority. In fact, castingan object made by pouring molten metal or other material into a mold. a perfectly tuned set of bells was thought to signal the power to rule and a proper relationship with heaven. Cherishing their bell sets, many owners chose to be buried with them. One example comes from the tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng.
A music lover to the very end, Marquis Yi of Zeng was buried with the musical instruments of his royal orchestra, along with twenty-one women (possibly his court musicians) when he died around 433 BCE. The sixty-five bells being played in the video in the Procedure section of this lesson plan are full-size copies of the bells found in the tomb of this Chinese aristocrat. The bells were placed in the central chamber of Yi’s tomb along with other instruments and bronze banqueting vessels. Apparently accumulated over time, the assemblage covered five octaves and required several musicians to play the different bell types.
Although the bronze bell’s place in the court ensemble was gradually replaced by stringed musical instruments after the Qin(chin) dynasty, it still left a profound impact on Chinese culture. People’s love and respect for bronze bells has never subsided.