The 2,553 year old Chimes of Marquis Yi

In 1977, a discovery was made in China—a complete set of chime bells was unearthed from the tomb of Marquis Yi, who lived during the Warring States Period (475 to 221 BC). These chimes were older than the Qin Dynasty’s famous Terra Cotta warriors (221 to 206 B.C.) that guard the tomb of Qin Shi Huangdi, the emperor that unified China.

When the chimes were discovered in Hubei Province (located in Central China), a plot of land was being leveled to build a factory.  The Red Army officer in charge of the work had an interest in archeology.

The officer discovered that the workers were selling the ancient bronze and iron artifacts they were digging up. He convinced local authorities there might be an ancient tomb buried below the site.

When the tomb was unearthed, a set of chime bells was found.  These musical instruments were an important part of ritual and court music dating. An American professor in New York City even called these chimes the eighth wonder of the ancient world.

The sixty-five chime bells weighed about 5 tons.

No other set of chimes like these had been discovered in China before, and this set was in excellent condition.

A project was launched in 1979 to duplicate four sets of these chimes. More than a 100 scientists and technicians were recruited.  In 1998, twenty years after the discovery, the project was completed. One of the sets was sent to Taiwan as a gift.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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3 Responses to The 2,553 year old Chimes of Marquis Yi

  1. […] Last, there is China’s music. For instance, the Chinese mouth organ dates back to the Zhou Dynasty (BC 1111-222), and has been found in Han Dynasty tombs. Then there are the 2,553 year-old chimes of Marquis Yi. […]

  2. Debbie says:

    HI Lloyd, I have seen, and heard, the ancient bells of the Marquis of Yi played whilst in Wuhan some years ago. Rather, probably, exact replicas of. Certainly an incredibly magical experience, where time seemed to stop still.
    An incredibly remarkable achievement, and certainly, most definitely, the 8th Wonder of the World.
    thanks for this post.

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