Bian Zhong of Su, Marquis of Jin


Chime bells
Late Western Zhou Dynasty
Height: 22.50cm

This set of Bian Zhong has a total of 16 pieces, of which 14 pieces were purchased by Shanghai Museum from overseas. The rest two smallest pieces were unearthed from No. 8 Tomb of Su, Marquis of Jin. According to the size, they can be lined into two groups, eight in one group that constitute a set of musical instruments harmonious in scale and temperament. The two groups of Bian Zhong were not molded at the same time but were assembled later according to the audio frequency. But after testing, it was able to cover a complete set of sound levels .We can play music with them even today.

The designs on these Bian Zhong are not identical. The four bigger ones are ornamented with an mterlinking-bead design, and the other 12 with metamorphosed animal masks on the upper part and a kind of bird design similar to a phoenix on the lower section. An inscription of 355 characters was inscribed coherently on the 16 bells. The inscription was engraved on the completed bronzes, which is very unusual in the Western Zhou Dynasty. It states that the King of Zhou went on an expedition against his enemies in the eastern and southern states in the 33rd year of his reign. Su, Marquis of Jin was ordered to attack Su Yi, a savage border area with minority people. Under his leadship, his troops advanced and fought valiantly, conquered many towns, killed and captured many enemies. King of Zhou called in Su, Marquis of Jin and bestowed on him horses, wine, bows and arrows. Su, Marquis of Jin had this set of Bian Zhong cast to eulogize the moral excellence of the King. No record of the war was ever found in historical materials, so it contributed a lot to the study of the history of Western Zhou and the State of Jin. Moreover the dates mentioned in the inscriptions also help to the study of the chro-nology of the Western Zhou Dynasty.