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Tsung-chou Bell

Tags: bell | bronzes | National Palace Museum | Western Chou


Late Western Chou period (1046-771 BC)
Height: 65.6 cm, length of central section: 23.1 cm, width: 30 cm, distance between two “yu”: 26.2 cm, distance between two corner points: 35.2 cm, weight 34.9 kg 
The lower part of the bell, known as the “ku” where the bell was struck, is decorated with an animal mask design, and the “chuan” is decorated with two-headed creatures. The central section, or “wu”, has a curvilinear pattern, and the horizontal sections running on either side are decorated with the “k’uei” dragon motif. The inscription records how King Li of the Western Chou led a successful military expedition south to subdue the southern states, and ordered the 26 states of the Nan-i and Tung-i, often translated as the Southern and Eastern Barbarians, to pay tribute to the Chou throne. The scale of his success led the king to have this bell cast in order to record his victory, and to bring glory to Shang-ti, the gods, and the spirits of past Chou kings, asking for their blessings and protection.

Text: Yu Kuo-ching

Text and images are provided by National Palace Museum