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Ancient Chinese Bells & Chimes

A collection of photo images of ancient Chinese chime stones and bronze bells from the Shang dynasty (16th to 11th centuries B.C.) up to the latter part of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911 A.D.). This album also includes a sampling of jade chimes.

Dynastie des Zhou de l’Est Période des Royaumes Combattants -475 -221 av JC Niellée or et argent de décors archaïsants H.21,5cm L. 13,5cm

Bell (yong zhong) from a set of six graduated bells (with S1987.5-.9) ca. 6th century BC, Eastern Zhou dynasty Bronze. #sculpture

Cloche en bronze à patine de fouille. Vietnam, culture de Dongson, Ier millénaire av. J.C. H: 11 cm

Musician playing the bells Western Han Dynasty China 206 BCE-9 CE Painted Earthenware

Musician playing the chimes Western Han Dynasty China 206 BCE-9 CE Painted Earthenware

Chinese, 19th century. A bronze bell with a two-headed chilong finial above a band of raised bosses above another band with stylized mythological beasts and two raised bosses against a leiwen ground; ht. 7.5 in. (19.05 cm)

China, probably Shanxi Province, ancient state of Jin Bell with Suspension Loop (Bo) and Coiled and Interlaced Dragons, Mid. Eastern Zhou dyn., late Spring and Autumn per. or early Warring States per., about 500-450 B.C. Metalwork; bronze

Zhong (bell), Eastern Zhou dynasty, Warring States period (5th–3rd century B.C.) China Bronze

Close up view of three bronze bells buried in the tomb of the Nanyue King, Guangzhou, China, Western Han Dynasty.

A second set of bronze bells buried in the tomb of the Nanyue King, Guangzhou, China, Western Han Dynasty.

Set of bronze bells buried in the tomb of the Nanyue King, Guangzhou, China, Western Han Dynasty.

Porcelain Bell, Warring States period, 475-221 BC. Zhejiang Provincial Museum, Hangzhou.

Nao (Bronze Bell), Western Zhou Period, 1066 - 771 BC, Zhejiang Provincial Museum, Hangzhou. The spirals on this bell are usually interpreted as a cloud design. Small knobs punctuate the body of the nao at regular intervals (nine, an auspicious number, on each half-face of the bell), and a stylized taotie decorates the midline of the bell at its lip.

"Dancing Bell", Shang Dynasty, 16th - 11th century BC, Shanxi Museum. The title of this object is a literal translation from the Chinese museum label. It is a clapperless bell, whose sound was made by attached chains that struck its body when shaken.

Bell Set, Tomb of Marquis Yi, Warring States Period, circa 430 BC. This bell set from the tomb of Marquis Yi is considered one of the finest artifacts from the Warring States Period. The 65 gold-inlaid, bronze bells cover five octaves and range in size from eight inches high (5 lbs) to five feet high (448 lbs). According to an inscription on the central bell, it was a gift from King Hui of Chu and was cast in 433 B.C. Marquis Yi was a relatively minor vassel of Chu.

Bo with four tigers Bronze Bell, Late Western Zhou, early 9th century - 771 BC. Shanghai Museum

Liang Qi Zhong Bronze Bell, Late Western Zhou, early 9th century - 771 BC. Shanghai Museum

Bell Set. Spring and Autumn Period. Henan Provincial Museum, Zhengzhou. According to their inscription, this set of bronze bells was "made by Wang Sunhao to greet the Chu Emperor."

Closeup of the bell. Shandong Provincial Museum. The swelling "handle", where it joins the body of the instrument, is decorated like a plant bulb, with long triangular leaves that overlap a figured ground.

Bell Set. Shandong Provincial Museum. These clapperless bells are worked with intricate surface designs. Although these bells have handles, they are not handle bells. They were suspended from a frame, like the one seen here, and struck on the side to produce the tone.

Chime Set. Shandong Provincial Museum. Bell and chime sets were such important ritual and court instruments, during the bronze age and later, that they were often buried with a deceased ruler.

Bell Set, Western Zhou dynasty Shaanxi History Museum, Xi'an. This is a set (bianzhong) of 8 suspended clapperless bells, usually called "chime bells" in English. Bells of this size were struck with mallets, larger ones being struck with wooden poles. The pitch of a bell is roughly determined by its size. Fine tuning is accomplished by trimming the bosses until the desired exact pitch and clarity of tone is achieved.