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Home History and Culture Zeng Houyi Bells: Gem of Ancient Chinese Art
Zeng Houyi Bells: Gem of Ancient Chinese Art
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 Zeng Houyi Bells
The set of bells, set of chimes and other instruments excavated from the tomb of Zeng Houyi (zēng hóu yǐ 曾侯乙), who was a Warring States (zhàn guó 战国) duke in Suixian County (suí xiàn 随县), now Suizhou City (suí zhōu 随州) in Hubei Province (hú běi shěng 湖北省), are the largest-scale ancient percussion instruments found so far. The musical instruments were discovered in the central chamber, which was the biggest, and the second biggest, the eastern chamber.
Among the musical instruments found was a bell used for tuning other instruments, a ten-stringed plucked instrument, five Se (sè 瑟, a zither-like instrument) with 25 strings each, two  Sheng (shēng 笙) and one hanging drum (xuán gǔ 悬鼓). The other instruments found were three Xiao (xiāo 萧, a reed instrument consisting of a bundle of 13 flutes, each of different thickness), seven 35-stringed Se and a small drum. The most distinguished among them were Zeng Houyi Bells (zēng hóu yǐ biān zhōng 曾侯乙编钟) -- the gem of ancient Chinese Art:

The Zeng Houyi Bells

The Zeng Houyi Bells are three-tiered set which has 65 refined bronze bells, including a large Jian drum (90cm in diameter, the drum was suspended from a framework in such a way that the drum head faced the striker), one set of bells and one set of chimes. They formed the three sides of a rectangle.
The musical range of the Zeng Houyi Bells, which can carry the main melody as well as the harmony, was more than five octaves, and of these three distinct groups have 12 complete notes each.
All the musical instruments excavated from the Zeng Houyi tomb show superb craftsmanship and function surprisingly well. Indeed, some could not be surpassed even today.




      整套编钟共有65枚,全部是由青铜铸造异常精美。编钟依次列在曲尺型铜木结构的钟架上。上下三层,总共加起来有65枚钟。每件钟体上都镌刻有金篆体铭文,正面均刻有“曾侯乙乍时”(曾侯乙作) 曾侯乙编钟的总音域有五个八度,仅次于现代的钢琴。可以奏出五声、六声或七声音阶的音乐。现代学者推断这套编钟不但可以演奏旋律,还可以演奏和声。 


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