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Bells Of The Orient
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© Christine Till - CT-Graphics
The earliest bell so far excavated in China is one which dates to the Longshan culture some five to six thousand years ago and was made of clay. It was unearthed near Xi'an in Shaanxi province. China was also one of the first countries in the world to cast bells made of bronze. The earliest Chinese bronze bells date back at least to the fourteenth century B.C. of the Shang dynasty. The Chinese also invented, developed and perfected tuned bells earlier than anyone else. By at least the 6th century B.C. sets of finely tuned bells were being produced and the Chinese even based their bulk measurements on the musical pitches of bells. From the Tang dynasty (618-906) onward, bell casting flourished and iron was also being used to make them.
China went on to produce a large number of bells. Thousands of bells still survive in China dating from the Tang, the Song (960- 1279), Yuan (1271-1368), Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties.
In China bells very rarely have internal clappers but are instead struck on the outside with a mallet or a hammer. They still play an important role as a warning system and to mark certain times of the day as well as in temples (Buddhism and Taoism).
July 3rd, 2011
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