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Forbidden City

The Hall of Character Cultivation has a large collection of musical instruments including the bells amd chimes shown above. The Hall was built during the Qing Dynasty. Yang Xing is a name derived from Mencius, the Chinese philosopher. It means "cultivating one's character to reach benevolence." The Hall of Character Cultivation dates to the first year of the American Revolution (1776), to give you a frame of reference. The hall is a copy of the Hall of Moral Cultivation, the main residence of the Qing emperors after the Yongzheng Emperor 雍正 (Yōngzhèng, 1678–1735) moved there. Emperor Qianlong 乾隆 (Qiánlóng, (1711–1799) initially planned this hall as part of the complex of building built for his retirement, but he never moved in.

The set of bells (bianzhong) were commissioned in 1791 by Qianlong. The bells used 13,600 gold taels (1376.86 pounds). The eight yin and eight yang bells are all the same external size. Each has a different tone due to changes in the thickness of the wall of the bell. The thickest ying bell weighs 14,317 grams (38.36 pounds) and has the highest tone. The thinnest one, the Beiyize, weighs 4,703 grams (12.6 pounds), and gives the lowest tone. The chimes (boanqing) are equally special. They are solid jade and have dragons engraved on both sides with gold highlights. The bell and chime set would have been used for ritual music called Zhonghe shao.

China Index >> History of Beijing in Pictures >> Forbidden City

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Last update: January 2010
© Marilyn Shea, 2009