Xi'an Bell Tower, China
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On the busy streets in City of Xi'an, there is an ancient structure. In early morning of ancient times it had the mission of ringing the bell and giving the correct time to the whole city, called "The Bell Tower". This day-after-days time-given Bell Tower went through many dynasties. This tower became the symbol of Xi'an, ever since the date it was build. Due to its old age, many legends and anecdotes about the Bell Tower had been pass on from ancient times.
The Bell Tower was build in 1384, at first it lies in the center of Xi'an City. In 1582, the city when through an expansion so the location of the Bell Tower changed. It than is situated towards the westside of the city. People then pulled down the original bell tower and rebuilt a bell tower in the center of expanded city and it is at the location now.
The tower base is square and it covers an area of 1,377 square meters. It is 8.6 meters high and 35.5 meters wide and built completely with green bricks. The tower is a brick and timber structure and 36 meters high.
There are three layers of eaves on the external carved beams and internal is up and down layers. There are tops on four of the corners of the tower eaves. The engraved arcs under each eaves come with color designs. The arc is one of the specialties in ancient timber constructions. It is unique in the history of world construction. It not only make the construction firm, but also make it more beautiful.
The arc has already appeared in the construction of Shang Dynasty, you can find the complete arc patterns on the utensil patterns of Shang bronze ware.
Before the Bell Tower moved, there was a copper bell in the tower named "Jingyun Bell". Its sound can spread several kilometers. No matter from the shape, the sound, or the engraving technology of the bell reflected the high craftsmanship of the metallurgy of Tang Dynasty. After the Jinglong Bell moved with the Bell Tower, the Jingyun Bell was preserved in the Beilin museum of Xi'an.
Now the big iron Jinglong Bell on the Bell Tower was made in Ming Dynasty and it weighs 2,500 kilograms. It has given time to the city for more than 400 years. Nowadays, the clear and loud time-given sound on the tower in Xi'an, was the recording sound of that bell.
The Bell Tower echoes with the Drum Tower and is half of kilo mile away from each other, but the situations of morning bell and evening drum no longer existed. Nowadays, only the Bell Tower is giving the time. Not too many people know the Bell Tower has taken charge of different kinds of tasks since this century. In the Revolution of 1911, it once used as a bureau of telephone. In 1927, it used as a cinema and in 1928, it was a planetarium. During the Anti-Japanese War, it was once as a meteorological observatory and a warning platform, a prison, and so on. Nowadays it is the emphatic cultural relics preservation unit of Shaanxi Province.
Legends and anecdotes:
As to the Bell Tower, there are many magical folk legends. In Ming Dynasty, several earthquakes struck Guanzhong area, thousands are dead and injured. Then a legend appeared: There was a great river flowing across the center of Xi'an City. A dragon in the river was always active and caused trouble, so the earthquake happened. An official of Xi'an government believed these words, so he ordered the blacksmith of the whole city to make a several thousand feet long iron chain in order to lock the dragon and sink it to river. He then ordered 5,000 craftsmen to repair the Bell Tower day and night. In order, to use the tower to lock the dragon - the central of the city. He believes this should suppress the dragon firmly under the river and so it not longer can be active and cause trouble again. After establishing the Bell Tower, earthquake did not occur in Xi'an again. Of course, this is only a legend.
The forefather of Ming Dynasty named Zhuyuanzhang was born poorly and his parents passed away early. He depended on tending sheep for others when he was very little. When he grew up, he left home and became a monk. When he became the emperor, he was afraid that the real emperor ("dragon son of heaven"-means king send from heaven, dragon is the symbol of emperor) in the country somewhere will fight for the throne with him. He then ordered to build the bell towers to suppress the "dragon power". Xi'an was the emperor city in ancient times and it was the place of emperor's throne and the "dragon power" was very strong of course. Zhuyuanzhang was afraid, so the Bell Tower in Xi'an was built not only early, but also very tall.