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The Bell of the Baoming (Protecting the Ming) Temple

The bell of the Baoming Temple was cast in the 6th year of the reign of Emperor Longqing of the Ming Dynasty (1572). The bell is 1.48 meters in height, 0.94 meter in rim diameter and 402 kilograms in weight. An inscription on the bell includes the names of more than one hundred people who donated to the casting of the bell. At the head of them was Empress Dowager Cisheng. Another inscription on the bell indicates that the bell "was granted to the Baoming Temple by imperial order." This proved that the bell had connections with the Ming imperial family. The bell was cast in memory of Lü, a nun abbot of the temple. During the reign of Zhengtong of the Ming Dynasty, Emperor Yingzong personally led a military expedition against Esen, leader of the Oirats beyond the Great Wall. The nun pleaded with the emperor not to go for the expedition, saying: "It is unfavorable." Emperor Yingzong flew into a rage. He held that the humble nun was ignorant of the situation and her remarks undermined the morale of his army. So he ordered his palace guards to beat her. The nun sat cross- legged and passed away. When he was captured by the enemy at Tumubao, the emperor was overcome with regret. He repeatedly saw the nun in his dreams. Later Esen returned Emperor Yingzong to Beijing. When he regained his imperial position, the emperor recalled how the nun had pleaded with him not to go for the expedition regardless of her personal safety. He issued an imperial edict to confer the title of imperial mother-in-law on her posthumously and build the Baoming Temple. He also granted a horizontal board inscribed with the characters "Shun Tian Bao Ming Si" which implied "protect the Tianshun reign of the Ming Dynasty." "Tianshun" was the reign title adopted by Emperor Yingzong when he regained his imperial position. During the reign of Emperor Muzong (1567- 1573), the Baoming Bell was cast for the same purpose.

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