Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Old Bell Museum 

Coming up in the elevator this afternoon, I asked the elevator lady where she went for the October holiday. She told me she didn't go anywhere. She had to work. Typical for a lot of working people. Holidays come and go, and they don't know the difference. Except, of course, for Chinese New Year.

Then she asked me where I went for the October holiday. I said, "Dazhongsi." She burst out laughing. I suppose she was expecting me to say, "Shanghai," or "Xi'an," or some other well known tourist destination. Dazhongsi is a little dump of a place two stops down on the light rail line, between here and the city center.

But there is something in Dazhongsi that is not ordinary and mundane. It is the old bell museum. Fascinating place. I read about it in Bill Porter's book. I have been here for six years and had never heard of the place, so Wednesday James and I took some time and went to see the place It is not widely visited, but it is really worth seeing.

The old bell museum at the Dazhong Temple (Da means "big," Zhong means "bell," and Si means "temple") houses a large assortment of ancient bells, the oldest of which go back to the Yuan Dynasty. But it is the Ming bells that are the most interesting, especially the large one.

There is also a special collection of church bells, including an original Gillete and Johnston church bell, and an old bell from Finland. If you're ever in Beijing, I encourage you to take a little side trip to Dazhongsi, blow 10 kuai, and get the inside view.

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