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A Study of the Jin Hou Su Bells [1]1

Wang Zichu

The Jin Hou Su Bells are a bell set of the Marquis
Su of the State of Jin, and they consist of 14 bells
which were uncovered by robbers in tomb no. 8 of
the Tianma-Qucun [2] ruins in the south-west of
the village of Beizhao [3], Qucun Town [4], Quwo
County, Shanxi Province on 31 August, 1992.
They were smuggled to Hong Kong together with
a dozen bronzes from the same tomb and were
finally purchased and recovered by the Shanghai
Museum on 22 December, 1992. The serial numbers of the bells are now 7362773640.
Since October 1992, the Archaeology Department of Beijing University and the Shanxi
Provincial Archaeological Research Institute
have jointly launched rescue excavations at the
Tianma-Qucun ruins and have confirmed that
this is the tomb of the Marquis of the State of Jin
during the period from King Mu [5] to King
Xuan [6], that is to say from the middle to the late
Western Zhou Dynasty (11 th cent. BC to 771
BC). Tomb no. 8 (I11M8) is the largest of five big
tombs excavated at that time. Although it had
been robbed in the past, a total of 239 gold, copper, jade, ivory and pottery wares were
unearthed. Major finds include one Ding [7] (a
three or four legged cauldron for cooking or
holding meat or fish) of the Marquis Su of the
State of Jin, two Gui [8] (a deep circular vessel
with two or four handles) of the Marquis Yu [9],
three Zun [10] (a cup for holding wine) in the
shape of a rabbit, a set of 15 gold ribbon ornaments and a large quantity of jade ornaments.
Also two bells were found. These are of dark
brown and yellowish green colour, almost free of
corrosion and their shape and bodies are almost
the same as the group in the Shanghai Museum
nos. 73631-73640. The height of bell no. I11M8:33
is 25.9 cm and there are seven inscriptions on the
body which read: with long life and a lot of
descendants. The height of I11M8:32 is 22.3 cm
and there are four inscriptions which read: may
the bell be preserved for ever. This inscription is
consistent with that on Shanghai 76340. These two

new bells are members of the Su bell set, which

thus numbers 16 bells.
These Su bells are a major discovery. Li Xueqin
[11] in his article New hopes for the chronology of
Xia, Shang and Zhou states that as the chronology of the Western Zhou is redrafted in accordance
with inscriptions on ancient bronzes, there is no
generally accepted interpretation of the expression
phase of the moon. Recent discoveries such as the
Su bells have given a hope of finding a solution to
the problem. This demonstrates the significance
of the Su bells for the history of the early Western
Zhou. I have studied 14 of the Su bells in Shanghai
Museum and at the invitation of Li Xueqin I here
present my initial results.

Ma Chengyuan [12] has made a study of the 355
inscriptions on the Su bells. The Jin Hou Su mentioned is the Marquis Xian Su of the State of Jin
[13]. The statement that King Zhouli [14] led Jin
Hou Su to go on a successful punitive expedition
against the tribes in the east is the most important
Western Zhou inscription found in the last 50
years. It shows that King Zhouli reigned for 37
years, and not 23 as had previously been thought.
The inscriptions also show that The Record of
History [15] incorrectly records the sequence of
the Jin family in the Western Zhou: Jin Hou Su
did not live in the reign of Zhouxuan [16] but of
Zhouli [17]. In the 33 rd year of his reign (846
BC), the war was started on the lunar 8th of January, tribes in the east were defeated in lunar
March and rewards were given to Marquis Su in
lunar June. The war lasted half a year. The
inscriptions were made shortly afterwards, but
were the bells made at the same time? I present
evidence here to show that in fact the bells were
made much earlier.

The numbers in square brackets represent Chinese characters (see list below).


Wang Zichu

The present state of the bells: (for their parts

see Fig. 1) 73627 lacks three Mei [18]; 73628 lacks
one Mei; 73629 has a split which has been
repaired; 73630 has a split Mei; 73631 has lost one
Mei and one is split; 73632 has a deformed Yong
[19]; 73636 lacks two Mei and there is a file mark
on the Mouth [20]. 73637 lacks one Mei; 73638
lacks one Mei and many are corroded, one Xian
[21] is destroyed. The rest of the bells are in fairly
good condition which has enabled me to study
their shape and musical properties. The 16 bells
can be divided into three types according to their
shape and structure and each type has distinct

This consists of 73627 and 73628. They are the two
biggest of the group. The Yong are elliptical with a
small taper varying between 0.4 and 0.7 cm from
the top to the bottom. The Yong is hollow and
joins into the body of the bell. There is a Xuan [22]
but no Wo [23] (suspension hook). The top of the
Yong [25] is open and so there is no Heng [24].
There is an interior lip [26] of triangular section at
the Mouth [27]. The tops of the Mei [28] are ball
shaped. The Mei, Zhuan [29] and Zheng [30] are
separated by a circle pattern and there are cloud
patterns formed by thin protruding lines on the
Gu [31], Zhuan and Xuan [32]. The Wu [33] is
undecorated; there are inscriptions on the Zheng
[34] and on the right side of the Xian [35].

This consists of 73629 and 73630. The patterns on
the Yong, the interior lip [36], the area carrying
inscriptions and the body of the bell are almost the
same as those on Type I. The difference is that
there is a Wo on the Xuan; there are patterns on
the Wu and the heads of the Mei are flat.


This consists of the remainder of the bells: 7363173640 and I11M8:33 and 32. The Yong are hollow
and join into the body. There is no Heng. On most
of these bells the mud core was left in the Yong.
The mouths of the joint between the Yong and the
body is constricted; on one bell it is completely
sealed. The Yong is conical with large taper and it
has an elliptic cross section. There is both a Wo
(suspension hook) and a Xuan. There is no interior
lip. The decoration on the Gu is a symmetrical
cloud and thunder pattern. The decoration on the

Zhuan is similar to that on the Gu but is adapted

to fit into the narrower space on the Zhuan. Compared to Types I and II, the patterns on Type III
are finer and clearer. The inscriptions are on the
Zheng [37] and on 73631 and 73632 they also
occur on the right of the Xian [38] (Fig. 5).
The shape and body structure of Type I bells is
most important for studying the evolution of the
Chinese bell. The key characteristic is that they
have a Xuan [39] but no Wo [40], the suspension
hook of a Yongzhong [41] bell. In the Northern
Song Dynasty (10th to 13th cent. AD) Shen Guo
called it a Xuanchong [42]. Today some people call
it Gan [43]. (The original shape of the character
for Gan [44] is similar to that for Wo, which
caused confusion).
Yong bells did not have a Xuan [45] and so
were not designed for being played suspended on
a bell frame. The Type I bells are too heavy (20 kg)
to be held in the hand and so they must, like Shang
Nao [46] bells (Shang Dynasty 18th to 12th centuries BC), have been played by placing the bell
with mouth upwards on the frame. Such a playing
method is called Zhizou [47]. It is generally
accepted that the Yong bell [48] of the Western
Zhou derived from the Shang Nao [49], but we
have lacked reliable evidence to show how this
evolution occurred.
Many Shang Nao bells have been found, most
of which are of the late Yin Shang [50] era (post
14th cent. BC). We can see a stable trend in the
evolution of their shape. The body is bi-convex
(shape of a Hewa [51]), the edges of the Xian [52]
are not very pronounced, the curve of the mouth
[53] is concave, the tops of the Xian [54] curve
upwards, the cross section of the Yong is circular
and it is wider at the top than the bottom. It is hollow and joins into the body. Even in the choice of
decorations there are no big differences, the taotie (ogre mask) and cloud and thunder patterns
were very popular. It is apparent that the Shang
Nao bell is the product of the mature stage of the
development of the early instrument.
Compared with Shang Nao, the Type I bell has
evolved in the following manner:
1 The weight increases sharply, the weight of each
exceeds 20 kg and the height is over 50 cm. For
Shang Nao the weight is from one to several kg
and the height is from 8 to 20 cm. Taking as examples a dozen Shang Nao kept in the Palace Museum, China Historical Museum, Henan Provincial
Museum, Shanghai Museum, the Archaeological
Research Institute of the Academy of Social Sciences, Luoyang Museum and Zhenghzhou Museum, the biggest is the Ya Zhi Nao [55] found in
tomb no. 160 in Guojiazhuang [56], Anyang City
in 1990 ( it is kept in the Anyang working station

A Study of the Jin Hou Su Bells

of the Archaeological Research Institute of Social

Sciences of China). It is 25 cm high and weighs
3.25 kg. The smallest is the Ya Qiang Nao [57]
found in the Fuhao [58] tomb; it is 8.1 cm high and
weighs 0.1 kg.
2 The protruding Mei [59] appeared. The two bells
each have 36 tapering cylindrical Mei. They are
arranged in three rows as shown in Fig 1. This
arrangement survived until the end of the manufacture of this type of bell. However on the Type I
bell the depth of the Mei area accounted for three
quarters of the bell surface and so the Gu is narrow; this is a major characteristic of the early bell.
Shang Nao bells did not have Mei.
3 The shape of the Yong changed and the Xuan
appeared. The head of the Yong on Shang Nao
[60] bells was made wider and the bells were
played on the frame. On Type I bells the Yong
became less tapered and the Xuan [61] was introduced, no doubt to improve the tone.
4 The general shape of the bell was standardised.
The curvature of the Mouth [62] was reduced. The
edges of the Xian [63] were better defined. All the
features of the bell, the distribution of the Zheng
[64], Zhuan [65], Mei, Gu, Xian [66], Yang, Yu
[67], Wu [68] and Heng including the bi-convex
body shape (Hewa) [69] became clearer.
The Type I bell is in a critical state of the evolution of the Shang Nao into the Yong bell [70]. It
still did not have a Wo [71], the determinant
between playing a bell resting on the frame (Zhizou) [72] and playing it by suspension on the
frame (Xuanzou) [73]. The dating of the Type I
bells can now be examined in the light of this
There is quite a lot of material from the Western Zhou, but those bells with reliable dates all
come from the middle and later years of this
dynasty and there are very few from the early period. The three bells found in the Yuboge [74] tomb
in Zhuyuangou [75], the southern suburb of Baoji
City, in May 1980 are regarded as the earliest
Western Zhou bells. Over 400 copper and jade
wares were found in the tomb and the ritual vessels made by the tomb master and the Fenggong
Ding [76] and the Mufugui Ding [77] indicate a
date in the reigns of Kings Kang or Zhao [78]of
the Western Zhou. The bells are considered to be
of almost the same date. The Yuboge [79] bells are
very similar to the Type I Su bells. They have a
hollow Yong, a plain Wu, straight edges to the
Xian sparse Mei-zhuan [80], narrow Gu, gently
curved Yu [81], and two symmetrical groups of
cloud and thunder patterns on the Gu. Although
they retain a hollow Yong which is the remaining
characteristic of a Shang Nao bell, the existence of
the Wo [82] and Xuan [83] on the Yong clearly


indicate that they must be regarded as early

Yongzhong bells.
In December 1974, three Yubozhi [84] bells
were unearthed in Rujiazhuang [85], a southern
suburb of Baoji. They are almost the same as the
Yuboge bells, except that on the third bell (BZM1
Z:30) the area covered by the Mei is smaller and
the Gu occupies 40 % of the surface area of the
bell. Ritual vessels in the tomb indicate that it dates
to the era of Kings Shao [86] or Mu [87]. There are
some other bells which are considered to be of the
early Western Zhou, but they lack an archaeological context and so will not be discussed further
Both sets of Yu [88] bells which were made in
the early period of the Western Zhou (Kang, Shao
or Mu eras) have substantially completed the
process of evolution from Shang to Yong bells, and
so the date of the Type I bells should be earlier
than the Yu bells [89], but evidence to support the
suggestion that they could be as early late Shang is
If this dating of Type I bells is correct, the dating of the Type II bells is easier. The body structure and decoration of the two types is much the
same. The only important difference is the presence of a Wo. Type II (Yong bells [90]) evolved
directly from Type I adding the Wo [91], which
enabled playing by suspension, but the hollow
Yong was retained so that the bell could still be
played by resting it on the frame. Obviously Type
II is later than I, but it cannot be far from the early
Western Zhou. The development is the same as
that of the Yu bells and so the type can be put to
the Kang [92] era.
On Type III bells the characteristic hollow
Yong [93] of Types I and II (inherited in turn from
Shang Nao [94] bells) has almost entirely disappeared. The mud core remains in the Yong [95]
and the point where it joins onto the Wu [97] is in
some examples completely sealed. The shape of the
Yong [96] also changes, becoming narrower at the
top than the bottom. This is also found on Type II
bells. The taper on Type I bells is small, the difference in diameter is only 0.4 to 0.7cm. On Type II it
is larger: 0.9 to 1.3cm. On Type III it is larger still.
The increased area of contact between the bottom
of the Yong and the Wu strengthened the bell and
changed its centre of gravity and made it more
suitable for playing by suspension (Yong bell [98]).
This method of playing was thereafter used
throughout the pre-Qin Dynasty up to the end of
the Bronze era. Type III are more developed and
are later than Types I and II.
From another point of view, Type III shares
many characteristics with Types I and II, such as a
plain Wu, straight Yong, straight edges of the Xian
[99], gentle curvature of the Yu [100] and small


Wang Zichu

region occupied by the Mei. They can be traced to

the same origin and can not be too far apart in
date. Those Western Zhou bells which share similar characteristics with Type III bells are from the
middle and late periods of this dynasty. An early
example is the Yinghou bell [101]; two are known:
one is in the Calligraphy Museum in Tokyo, the
other was found in March 1974 in Hongxing [102]
village, Lantian county of Shanxi Province. The
latter has a complete body with a mud core in the
Yong. There are three tuning slots on the interior
wall of the bell and the Wu, Zhuan [103] and Gu
are all decorated with cloud patterns. On the right
of the Gu there is a bird pattern. These characteristics are almost the same as those on the Type III
bells. The Yinghou bell is considered to be of the
King Gong era to which the Type III bells can
now be dated.
According to present evidence a set of bells in
the early Western Zhou consisted of two bells; this
number was gradually expanded. For example in
the Zha set [104], five bells are known so far. A
total of 14 Xing bells [105] were found at Farmensi [106], Fufeng county, Shanxi Province. In the
later Western Zhou, the Zhongyi [107] and Zuo
bells [108] consist of eight each and the Xizhong
[109] and Guoshulu bells [110] consist of seven. It
is reasonable to put back the Type III Su bells
from the 33rd year of King Li [111] to the time of
King Gong [112].
To summarise: the 16 Su bells were not all
made at the same time but were probably made
over a period of 200-300 years from the beginning
of the Western Zhou up to the time of King Gong
[113]. They exemplify a period of evolution of the
Yong bell (dimensions, weight, etc., see Tab. 1).

Since the finding of the bells of the Marquis Yi of
the state of Zeng, the question of the tuning of
Chinese bells has attracted much attention (see
also the contribution of Wu Zhao in this publication). My ideas on the influence of the sound ridge
and tuning slots on bell intonation have been published in the excavation report on the Zhaoqing
Tomb [114] in Taiyuan City of Shanxi Province
(Cultural Relics Publishing House).
The two tone function of Chinese bells is
mainly governed by its bi-convex body shape
(Hewa) [115]. This shape was initially established
in Shang Nao [116]. It set a higher technological
requirement for the craftsmen and was more difficult to achieve, so the tuning after the bell was cast
became more important. Tuning was done by filing the interior of the bell. As well as adjusting the

pitch the maker also had to balance the volume

and timbre of the two sounds. The sound ridge
(Yinji [117] or Yinyuan [118]) appeared in the
middle stage of the development of the Chinese
bell, at the end of the Western Zhou and in the
early Spring and Autumn periods. Its presence can
be used for dating pre-Qin bells.
The Su bells are early Western Zhou and do
not have sound ridges. Some are plain and some
have filed tuning slots which I will now examine (I
have not inspected the two Shanxi bells).
The tuning method on the Type I and II bells is
relatively simple:
There is a filing breach on the interior lip [119]
of the Mid-gu [120] area on the back of bell 73627,
that just breaks the interior lip; there are no obvious filing marks on the rest of the bell. On bell
73628 there are filing slots 2.7 cm wide in the interior lip of the two Mid-gu parts; they extend 10cm
up the interior wall gradually becoming plain and
smooth. On bell 73629 there are two tuning slots
each 28 cm long and 1.5 cm wide which extend to
the Wu from the Mid-gu parts of the mouth, gradually fading out. On bell 73630 there is a small filing mark on the interior lip and the depth is about
half that of the thickness of the Chun [121]. Thus
the method of tuning of Type I and II bells is
located in the Mid-gu parts of the interior lip of
the mouth.
The tuning methods of the ten Type III bells
are more sophisticated and varied than those on
Types I and II. Specific examples include:
On bell 73640 there are slots in the two Midgu, four Side Gu [124] and the two tops of the
Xian [125] extending from the mouth to the bottom of the Wu [126], at which point they have disappeared. The slots are 89 cm long and 0.9 cm
wide. The sand cast surface on the interior of the
bell was left. On bell 73631 there are only six slots,
there being none on the front Left [127] and back
Right Gus [128], they are shallow and extend
25 cm. Bell 73632 has eight deep slots 25 cm long
and disposed as on 73640. Bell 73633 has nine
slots: one in each of the two Mid-gu, one in the
back Right Gu, and two side by side in each of the
front Side and back Left Gus. There are no obvious filing marks in the two Xian [129]. Bell 73634
has only one slot in the front left Gu and the
inside of the body is smooth. Bells 73635 to 37
have similar slots to 73640 of length 15 cms. and
obvious filing marks in the two Xian tops. Bell
73638 has five slots in the two Mid-gu, the tops of
the two Xian [125] and in the front Mid-gu [130].
Their length is from 8 to 14cm. Bell 73639 has six
slots, lacking those in the two front Side Gus.
The tuning methods of Type III bells follow
these rules: 1. The slots are found in eight positions: two top of Xian, two Mid-gu and four Side

A Study of the Jin Hou Su Bells

Gu. They come from the inner side of the mouth

and extend to the under side of the Wu. The cross
section of a slot is semi-circular, being deep at the
mouth and become shallower as they ascend. The
four slots in the Xian tops and the two Mid-gus
are to produce the dual fundamental frequencies of
the bell. 2. When tuning the slots are first made in
the Xian [131], then Mid-gu and finally in Side
Gu. If there are exceptions this is because the bell
as cast already has the desired dual tone properties.
3. The slots in the Side Gu are different and serve
to tune the bell. This is fine tuning as the basic
pitch is determined by the mould. Some bells
require fewer slots particularly in the Side Gu. A
few bells have two slots side by side. Compared
with Types I and II bells these Type III bells show
a more sophisticated system of tuning compatible
with their suggested dating.
The Zeng Hou Yi bells [132] of Marquis Yi of
Zeng have tuning described as: No edges can be
seen inside the Xian, unlike on the outside of the
bell body. The slots are smooth. There are also
sunken slots in the Mid-gu, but they are shallower.
The Side Gu bulges from the bottom of MeiZhuan [133] and becomes wider and thicker forming a sound ridge at the mouth. The Yi [134] bells
are at the pinnacle of Chinese bronze bell manufacture, but evidence of their tuning technology
can already be seen in the Su bells.
The structure of bells was discussed in the
book Zhou Li: Kao Gong Ji [135] where it is stated
that the Mi [136] on the Yu is called Sui [137].
There have been many explanations of what Mi
[138] and Sui [139] are. The Qin dynasty scholar
Feng Shui was incorrect in his Study of the Mi and
Sui [140] of Bells [141] when he claimed that Sui
were slots made in casting and that Mi was the
sound ridge on the Side Gu. The contemporary
scholars Li Jinghua [142] and Hua Juemin [143]
think that Mi are Sui which are slots in the interior
of Xian [144] and Mid-gu. Feng Guangsheng [145]
insists that four protruding parts (sound ridges)
within the bell can be regarded as Mi with Sui as a
slot in the Mi (Fu Shi Zhang Ju [147] stories). In
fact as it is clearly stated in the Kao Gong Ji [146]
that Mi on Yu [148] is called Sui the key point is to
understand Mi. In the same book Qing Shi Zhang
Ju [149] states that if the sound is too high the surface of the Qing should be filed, if it is too low the
top of the Qing [150] should be filed. I think that
Mi means filing and polishing: the filing part on
Yu is called Sui. This word Sui refers to the slot in
the mouth [151] of bells of the Western Zhou. This
implies that the book (Zhou Li. Kao Gong Ji [152])
is applicable to the Western Zhou. Zhou bells did
not have sound ridges and so the slots formed by
filing or Sui can be seen obviously. From the
Spring and Autumn period bells had sound ridges


and there was uncertainty about the tuning

method or Sui [153]. Particularly in the Warring
States period, when sound ridges changed from
being long and narrow to plate shape, the concept
of Sui became obscure. The suggestion of Li and
Hua that Mi is Sui is not wrong for the era after
the Spring and Autumn period when bells had
sound ridges. Similarly Feng Guangshengs view
that Sui are slots on sound ridges is correct for
later periods.

Of these 16 bells 73629 is dumb, but the rest can
be played fairly well. The twelve Type III bells in
particular have good sound quality. A bird pattern
is found on the front and on the Right Gu [154] of
each of the bells and this is the striking point for
the two tones. The Side Gu [155] tone is a clear
minor third above that of the Mid-gu [156] and it
is a much better quality sound than that produced
by striking other parts of the bell. The sound here
is not disturbed by that of the Mid-gu. This indicates that the craftsmen producing these bells had
grasped the design and casting techniques necessary for producing these two sounds. The sound
quality on Type I and II bells is not so good nor is
the balance between the two sounds. Just like their
structural characteristics and their methods of tuning, the acoustical properties are in a transitional
The visual and sound laboratory of my institute made the measurements and produced the
formal report (see Table 2). The size and pitches of
bells 73631 and 73632 are similar, so also 73633
and 73634; 73635, 73636, 73637 and 73638. Adding
the two bells from the excavation, 73639 and
I11M8:33 and 73640 and M8:32 make similar pairs.
The bells can be divided into two groups of similar
pitch each of eight bells. Ma Chengyuan also
divided the bells into two groups according to
their inscriptions and these groupings are in agreement. Thus when the bells were inscribed the two
groups were not mixed.
Table 2 gives measured frequencies and pitches
derived assuming the standard a is 440 herz with
smaller intervals given in cents (1200 cents to an
octave). In Table 3 the pitches are also given (in
Chinese) transposed down 40 cents which is taken
as the standard of Gong [157]. The tuning is poor.
There are five possible reasons: 1. Indifferent standards of the makers; 2. Pitch perception does not
exactly follow measured frequency. For example
in piano tuning a musician prefers the octaves to
be spread. This might explain why the intervals
between the two tones are larger than a minor
third. This is a characteristic of bells of the pre-


Wang Zichu

Qin period; 3. The frequency may have changed as

a result of damage and corrosion, although this is
not very serious on the Su bells; 4. As I have indicated previously the bells were not produced at the
same time but were manufactured over a 100 year
period. Even today it is difficult to match the pitch
of a new bell to an existing example; 5. The tuning
techniques were still evolving. Compared to the Yi
bells these lagged behind technically. Taking all
these factors into account and despite discrepancies of a semitone the Gong [158] of bells 73630,
73638 and 73640 are described as such in Table 3.
If they were ascribed to Biangong [159] or Yujiao
[160], it would be difficult to explain such a tuning
system in bells of the Western Zhou.
In the Yinshang period bells were already used
melodically. On many Yinshang Nao [161] the two
sounds Mid [162] and Side Gu [163] formed complete five or more note scales. Examples include the
Yaqiang Naos [164] found in the Fuhao tomb [165]
and the Naos found in tomb no. 312 in Dasikong
village [166] of Anyang in Henan Province (1953).
As a melodic instrument the bell has deficiencies.
Disregarding such factors as its high cost, difficult
technology and strict hierarchy of use, the bell is
not an ideal melodic instrument. This is mainly
because its sound is long enduring. When a melody
moves rapidly the inharmonious sounds are intolerably bad. So the major function of a bell is in
using its grand and continuous sound to create a
grave, lofty or even solemn and fearful atmosphere.
This was the requirement of the rulers of the Shang
and Zhou dynasties. On occasions of actual musical performance, the major function of the early
bell was to play the main tone of the melody so as
to strengthen the rhythm and set off the atmosphere by contrast. The book Guoyu. Zhouyu [167]
states that bells were used to strengthen the atmosphere and rhythm. The main melodic instruments

were the Qin [168] (a seven stringed zither), the Se

[169] (a twenty five stringed zither), and the woodwind Sheng [170] and Guan [171].
The rulers of the Zhou dynasty inherited their
social system from the Shang dynasty, but as is
recorded in documents, Zhou dynasty bells did
not use the tone Shang [172], which uses the same
character as the name of the previous dynasty.
This reflected a hostile attitude to the previous
dynasty, but also shows that people in the Zhou
dynasty did not have a strong sense of the melodic
use of bells. Removing the tone Shang [173] from a
five note scale limits the melodic possibilities and
demonstrates an indifference to melodic use compared with the previous dynasty.
Table 3 shows that although the Su bells are a
large group (16 resp. 8 bells) the tone Shang is not
used. This reflects the respect that Jin Hou Su had
for the royal Zhou family, as is also indicated in
the inscriptions which state that the marquis Su
went on a military expedition for King Zhou.
Even the Zuo bells [174] which were made in the
middle or later Western Zhou and had eight bells
of range three and a half octaves still only had
Gong [175], Jiao [176], Zhi, and Yu [177] with no
Shang [178]. The late Western Zhou bells found in
tomb no. 210 in Shangguo village [179], Wenxi
county, Shanxi Province break this restriction and
began to use Shang. Two additional bells, nos. 4
and 7, give as Mid and Side Gu the tones Shang
and Bianzhi [180]. These bells give the standard six
tone scale with Bianzhi covering two octaves. The
Shang tone was confirmed and consolidated.
The range of the Su bells is from a to c4, three
octaves and a minor third. This range was rare at
that period.
The unique scholarly value of these bells
extends beyond their importance in the history of
China and its musical culture.

A Study of the Jin Hou Su Bells




Wang Zichu

Fig. 1 The names of the parts of the Yong Bells.

Fig 2 Type I: Bell no. 73627.

Fig. 3 Type II: Bell no. 73630.

Fig. 4 Type III: Bell no. 73632.

A Study of the Jin Hou Su Bells



Wang Zichu

Table 1 Dimensions of the Jin Hou Su Bells.

Table 2 Report on the Sound Measurements.

Table 3 Sound Comparison of the Jin Hou Su Bells (with an

example for measuring).

Table 4 The four-note row of the Jin Hou Su Bells.

A Study of the Jin Hou Su Bells