Vision 丨 Do you really know about the clock tower?

-This article is reproduced from the official account: City of Silk Road Museum-

The Bell Tower, standing in the center of the ancient city of Xi’an, is a landmark building in the city of Xi’an.

Vision 丨 Do you really know about the clock tower?

However, you know what? The bell tower was originally built at the intersection of West Street and Guangji Street, and was later relocated to its current location as a whole. There are many little-known moving stories and legends about the Bell Tower.

The most beautiful chapter of ancient Chinese architecture

Xi’an Bell Tower is located in the center of Xi’an, at the intersection of East, West, North, South and North Streets within the ancient city wall. It is the largest, oldest and best preserved bell tower in China. It was built in the seventeenth year of Ming Taizu Hongwu (1384). It was first built at the entrance of Guangji Street, opposite the Drum Tower. More than 600 years later, this ancient building still exudes a solemn and magnificent atmosphere.

Vision 丨 Do you really know about the clock tower?

Old photos of the clock tower 100 years ago

In the Ming Dynasty, Xi’an was an important military and political town in the Northwest, so no matter in terms of architectural scale, historical value or artistic value, Xi’an Bell Tower occupies an important position among similar buildings in China. On August 6, 1956, the Shaanxi Provincial People’s Government announced that the bell tower was a provincial cultural relic protection unit. On November 20, 1996, Xi’an Bell Tower was announced by the State Council as a national key cultural relic protection unit.

The Bell Tower and Zhu Yuanzhang’s Relocation of the Capital

Speaking of the bell tower, I have to mention one person, that is the “grassroots emperor” Zhu Yuanzhang. For Zhu Yuanzhang, who was born as a farmer, he knows that the country is hard-won, and he also has a strong sense of urgency.

After he was firmly established, he was busy building solid city walls in major cities across the country, and he also planned to build another kind of building-the bell tower. As the commanding heights of the city, the bell tower has the function of controlling the whole city in the military.

Vision 丨 Do you really know about the clock tower?

Portrait of Zhu Yuanzhang

After the Ming Dynasty established its capital in Nanjing, there was another discussion about moving the capital. A minister advocated moving the capital to Xi’an. Zhu Yuanzhang was a little moved, and specially sent his prince Zhu Biao to Xi’an for on-the-spot investigation, selected the palace foundation site, and drew a map of Shaanxi.

After Prince Zhu Biao returned to Nanjing from Shaanxi, he presented a map of Shaanxi to his father, Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang, and introduced the geographical advantages of Xi’an in detail. Xi’an.

Vision 丨 Do you really know about the clock tower?

Portrait of Zhu Biao

But soon the prince Zhu Biaoying died young, and Zhu Yuanzhang was already old at this time. The old man who lost his son in his later years was very sad, and the matter of moving the capital was over. However, the Bell Tower was built in the seventeenth year of Ming Hongwu (AD 1384) according to the architectural level of the capital. It can be said that it was “born with a golden spoon in its mouth”.

The roof of the bell tower adopts “three-storey eaves with four corners and pointed roofs”, which is higher than the single eaves and four corners of the “Hall of Harmony” in the Forbidden City in Beijing.

During the Wanli period of Emperor Shenzong of the Ming Dynasty, the overall relocation

The Bell Tower is currently at the intersection of the four main streets, east, west, south, and north, in the very center of Xi’an, but the Bell Tower was not here at the beginning. In the seventeenth year of Hongwu in the Ming Dynasty (1384), the bell tower was built at the intersection of today’s West Street and Guangji Street.

Vision 丨 Do you really know about the clock tower?

Old photos of Xi’an

After nearly two hundred years, in the tenth year of Ming Shenzong Wanli (1582), the clock tower was moved eastward about 1,000 meters as a whole, which is the current location.

The relocation is an overall relocation of the original parts. The reason for the relocation is recorded in the “Bell Tower Stele”.

Two centuries later, as the city center moved eastward and the city gate was rebuilt, the bell tower seemed to be increasingly deviated from the city center, so it was relocated eastward as a whole.

According to the inscriptions, in addition to the reconstruction of the base, the wooden structure of the building is all original.

Vision 丨 Do you really know about the clock tower?

Mortise and tenon structure diagram of bell tower

The overall relocation of the Xi’an Bell Tower sounds unbelievable, but the operation is not as complicated as imagined: the Bell Tower was demolished and relocated!

There are also reasons for adopting this method. Xi’an Bell Tower is a civil engineering project with a mortise and tenon structure, and it is completely operable to disassemble and assemble. At that time, the whole piece was disassembled during the migration and the parts were numbered, and then the craftsmen at the new site assembled them according to the drawings and corresponding material numbers. If any damage was found, they were replaced immediately, so as to achieve the overall migration without changing the original appearance.

Most of the relocation of ancient buildings now adopts this method, so the relocation of the Bell Tower in Xi’an can be said to be the originator of the relocation of modern cultural relics.

Jing Yunzhong’s story

Since it is named “Bell Tower”, the “bell” on it must be mentioned. Now the big bell hanging in the northwest corner of the bell tower no longer has the function of telling the time, but it will still be ringed every year and festival to pray for safety.

It is understood that it was not the current big bell that hung on the bell tower at the beginning, but a big bell called Jingyun Bell cast in the Tang Dynasty. The bell you see on the bell tower is called “Jingyun Bell”. This is a replica, but the real one is in the Xi’an Forest of Steles Museum.

Vision 丨 Do you really know about the clock tower?

Replica of the Bell Tower in Xi’an

Vision 丨 Do you really know about the clock tower?

Authentic “Jingyun Bell” (collected by the Forest of Steles Museum)

What kind of “god” is this?

First, it is said that in the second year of Tang Jingyun (AD 711), Li Dan, Emperor Ruizong of Tang Dynasty, went on a tour and stayed in the palace overnight.

Second, it is said that whenever the Jingyun Bell rings, the entire city of Xi’an resounds like a phoenix.

Thirdly, the bell tower was moved in the tenth year of Emperor Shenzong of Ming Dynasty (AD 1582). The Jingyun Bell was once hung on the bell tower, but the original bell that resounded through the city of Xi’an disappeared, and there was no sound no matter how much it was struck. The matter remains a mystery to this day.

Vision 丨 Do you really know about the clock tower?

Front of “Jingyun Bell”

There are patterns cast around the body of the bell, which are divided into 3 layers from top to bottom, and each layer is divided into 6 grids with vine pattern belts, a total of 18 grids. The grids are cast with patterns of flying sky, flying crane, walking lion, dragon, rosefinch, one-horned one-legged ox, etc. There are four auspicious clouds in each of the four corners, which are vivid and unique.

On the top of the bell sits a squatting beast called “Pulao”. Pulao is one of the “nine sons of the dragon”. He likes rhythm and is good at neighing.

There is a parallel inscription in the center of the lower part of the front of the bell. This inscription was personally written and written by Li Dan, Emperor Ruizong of Tang Dynasty, which is rarely handed down. Zhong’s praise is a rare and precious handwriting of Li Dan, so this inscription is also cherished by those who study calligraphy.

From this point of view, the Jingyun Bell, the highest-level bell tower in China, is a perfect match.

A new chapter, a great reputation

Since the 1950s, many leaders and foreign guests who came to Xi’an have visited the bell tower. Zhu De, Zhou Enlai, Dong Biwu, Peng Dehuai, He Long, Chen Yi, etc. have all left their footsteps on the bell tower. In the 1970s, calls from all walks of life for the bell tower to be opened became louder and louder.

Vision 丨 Do you really know about the clock tower?

The bell tower in 1963 attracted many students to take pictures.

After rigorous demonstrations by relevant departments, on the premise of ensuring that cultural relics can be effectively protected, and in line with the idea of ​​letting more people know about the Bell Tower, the Bell Tower was finally opened to the public in 1984. Since then, more and more tourists have boarded the bell tower, rang the big bell, and watched the increasingly prosperous streets of Xi’an…

Vision 丨 Do you really know about the clock tower?

Although most of the surrounding things have changed with the passage of time, the Bell Tower is still a landmark building in Xi’an, standing in the center of the city. It records the history of the vicissitudes of life in Xi’an, and it engraves the sorrow and pride in the hearts of Xi’an people. It accompanies the Drum Tower in the morning and evening, and echoes the four gates of Xi’an.

The Bell Tower will also stand in the center of the city, welcoming the future together with the people of Xi’an.

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