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Function of Bell and Drum Tower

Bell and Dum Tower Index : Architecture | Function | Legend
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Bells and drums were musical instruments in ancient China. Later they were used to tell time and became watches for the officials and common people as well.Bell and Drum Tower Bell and Drum towers was time telling center during the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties (1271-1911).

In the Qing Dynasty, the hours were marked at night beginning at 7:00 p.m., a procedure that was popularly called "setting the watch." At this hour, the drums were sounded 13 times. After the watch had been "set" in this fashion, each subsequent two-hour interval was marked by a single drum beat. Civil and military officials oriented their lives around these time signals. At the sounding of the third watch (1:00 a.m.) officials attending the morning court audience rose from there beds and at the fourth (3:00 a.m.) assembled outside the Meridian Gate (Wumen). At the sounding of the fifth watch (5:00 a.m.) they entered the Imperial Palace and knelt on the Sea of Flagstones (Haimen) before the Hall of Supreme Harmony (Taihedian) to await instructions from the emperor.

At the very beginning in the Ming Dynasty, the bell and drum were beaten together both during the day and nighttime. When Qian Long was emperor in the Qing Dynasty, the bell and drum were beaten together only two times at night by two workers who were assigned to beat the bell and drum respectively. First the drum and then the bell was beaten.

At seven o'clock in the evening, the drum was beaten followed by the bell to inform people it was time to go to sleep. At nine o'clock, eleven o'clock, as well as one and three o'clock in the morning, only the bell was beaten to avoid awakening the sleeping people. At five o'clock in the morning, again the drum was beaten followed by the bell to inform people to rise. Each time this ritual of the drum being beaten occurred 108 times, 18 times very rapidly and 18 times very slowly. The bell was beaten following the same method.

Although the Bell and Drum Towers have lost their function of telling time (The function was completely lost in 1924 when the last emperor of the Qing Dynasty was forced to leave the Forbidden City), you can still hear the rings of these ancient timepieces even now.

Beijing Tour Routes Includes Bell and Drum Tower

BH-1. 3 nights 4 days Beijing tour BH-2. 4 nights 5 days Beijing tour
BH-3. 5 nights 6 days Beijing tour BH-4. 6 nights 7 days Beijing tour
BK-1. 2 days Beijing tour BK-2. 3 days Beijing tour
BK-3. 4 days Beijing tour BK-4. 5 days Beijing tour
BK-5. 6 days Beijing tour BK-6. 7 days Beijing tour
BD-12. Half day Beijing Hutong BST-3. Beijing Hutong and Zoo bus tour
BTA-7. Beijing Hutong tour BJSH-1. 5 days Beijing Shanghai Tour
BJSH-2. 6 days Beijing Shanghai Tour BJSH-3. Beijing Shanghai Suzhou Tour (7 days)
BJSH-4. 9 days Beijing Shanghai Suzhou Hangzhou Tour BJLH-1. Beijing Lhasa Tour
BJGL-1. Beijing Guilin Tour  

Photo of Drum and Bell Tower
Bell and Drum TowerBell and Drum TowerBell and Drum TowerBell and Drum Tower


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