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The King of Oriental Musical Instruments
Serial Bells of Zeng Marquis Yi

The serial bells of Zeng Marquis Yi is the name given to the ancient musical instrument made of bells (called bianzhong) unearthed in 1978 in the Tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng at Leigudun in the suburbs of Sui County in Hubei Province, China. As a symbol of Chinese culture, the bell set is very popular in important ceremonies and cultural exchanges.

The excavation of the complete set of chime bells astounded the world’s archeological society, since it’s extremely rare in the world’s cultural history to find such exquisite musical instruments and magnificent band existed over two thousand years ago. It reflects the luxurious life of the aristocrats in the Warring States Period (433 B.C.), as well as the proficiency in bronze casting in ancient China. It promises a contribution to the fields of history of science, technology, and culture of such magnitude that it should command the attention of experts in many fields around the world.

The original bell set has been strictly preserving and displaying at the Hubei Provincial Museum since their excavation. Here the serial bells displayed at the National Museum of Natural Science are replicas bought by the National Center for Traditional Arts in 1997 from the Hubei Provincial Museum, which are certified the most precise replicas ever by the Hubei Museum.

The King of Oriental Musical InstrumentsThe bells are constituted by 65 bells and hung as L shape. The biggest bell is of 152 cm height and 204 kg weight. The smallest bell is of 20 cm height and 2.4 kg weight. Each bell can play two tones with three degree’s interval. The tonal range is from C2 to D7. All twelve half tones can be played in central tonal ranges.

The King of Oriental Musical InstrumentsIn addition to witnessing the spectacular bianzhong of Marquis Yi of Zeng, visitors will learn more about the ancient musical instrument history and technical manufacturing history in China as well as hear performances of the ancient chime bells through videos, demonstrations and bianzhong VR.