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China. Chinese bells of the Shang and Zhou dynasties have two peculiarities: they seldom have clappers — they are struck on the outside with a mallet — and they are not round but have a pointed-oval cross-section. The cusped cross-section, known from the earliest examples (a small and primitive bell from Erlitou, mid-2nd millennium bc, and its descendants from Anyang), makes it possible to obtain two distinct pitches from a large bell, depending on where the bell is struck. Whether this property was exploited in Shang times is uncertain, but the scales played by some Eastern Zhou chimes of bells incorporate both pitches of each bell. The nomenclature of Chinese bells is confused, partly because the conventional names do not reflect the actual affiliations of the various types and partly because individual bells are sometimes classified differently by different scholars. The major types all descend from two bells of the Shang period, the ling (suspended by a loop) and the nao (supported mouth-upward on a stem or yong). In Shang finds ling and nao occur singly or in graduated sets of at most five At metropolitan Shang sites such as Erlitou and Anyang they are not very common; the ling often has a clapper, and both ling and nao are small and insignificant objects, easily held in the hand. At Shang-period sites in the middle and lower Yangzi region, however, bells of the same two types are the defining artefact of local bronzeusing cultures, and here they are finely decorated and very large: an example from Ningxiang weighs 154 kg. Most of these monumental provincial bells are nao. The few provincial versions of the ling, lacking clappers, are usually distinguished from their small metropolitan prototypes by the name zhong (a general term for bells). In the Western Zhou period large bells, often made in sets, begin to appear at northern sites. By their size alone these are related to bells from the Yangzi region rather than to metropolitan Shang bells, a descent confirmed by other stylistic features. The Western Zhou flanged bell supported vertically from a loop is particularly close to zhong from the Yangzi region: this type underwent no fundamental change in the Western Zhou period. The large nao, however, designed originally to stand upright on its hollow stem, was adapted by the Western Zhou caster for suspension mouth downward. This was managed by adding a small suspension loop at the point where the stem joins the bell proper; the bell supported by this loop hangs obliquely and is called a yong, short for yong zhong (i.e. a bell [zhong] with a stem (yongj). Examples found at Puducun date this innovation to the 10th century bc or earlier. In the Eastern Zhou period the most common types of bell are the yong (the inverted nao) and the bo (descended from the zhong and thus ultimately from the ling, but now usually without flanges). Both types are found increasingly often in tuned sets called bianzhong, the largest and most extraordinary of such sets being the 5th-century bc chime of 64 bells from Sui Xian (see also Xinyang). Bianzhong, frequently accompanied by other musical instruments, occur primarily in tombs in or near the territory of the Chu state. This is the same area of central China where Shang-period finds regularly include large nao: the Yangzi region seems to have been the home of a musical tradition, no doubt serving a ritual purpose at least at first, for which there is little parallel at northern sites of any stage. See also drums (China). One provincial Eastern Zhou bell type stands outside the main classes. The chunyu, a fairly small bell made for use in war, is a slender relative of a kind of bronze drum characteristic of the Dian civilization of southwest China. Early versions of the chunyu are known from the lower Yangzi region. The type seems to have spread westward along the Yangzi valley to Sichuan, where it is associated with the Ba and Shu cultures and typically carries a small three-dimensional tiger on its flat upper surface. Japan. Unique among bells are the dotaku of Japan, attributed to the latter half of the Yayoi period, in the first three centuries ad. More than 350 of these bronze bells, ranging from 13 to 135 cm in height, have been found in western and central Honshu, with the centre of distribution in the Osaka-Kyoto area. Several stone moulds for casting them have been found at Yayoi settlement sites, but the bells themselves come from isolated places on hills, singly or in groups and often in a damaged state. The unusual manner of disposal, as well as the elaborate decoration, suggests ritual significance. Later doftzkutend to be larger and often lack the inside clapper necessary to make sound. It is believed that the dotaku developed out of the smaller bronze bells found in Korean graves into ceremonial objects with more emphasis on size and exterior decoration.

The Macmillan dictionary of archaeology, Ruth D. Whitehouse, 1983Copied