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The Buddhist Bell of the Yuan Dynasty

The Buddhist Bell of the Yuan Dynasty (1279- 1368) is 2.12 meters in height, 1.3 meters in rim diameter and 2,048 kilograrns in weight. Cast with bronze alloy, it contains 71 percent of copper, 13 percent of tin and a small amount of other metals. The Buddhist bell was struck at a temple to call people together to attend Buddhist services. According to the Dharma-gupta-vinaya Rules, "The bell was struck to summon monks and other Buddhist devotees from the ten directions. Those who heard the stroke converged for their common benefit. The evil-doers and all sufferers were called to cease their activities." As one put it, "Immortals are happy when they hear the stroke. Ghosts stop their ferocity when they hear it. The stroke will break into hell and rescue a multitude of poor people." For monks and nuns, the Buddhist bell was an important instrument for upholding Buddha's teachings. The inscription on the bell says, "The stroke of the bell enables one to alleviate worries, leave hell, get out of the abyss of suffering, become a Buddha and release all living creatures from the sea of misery." The stroke of the bell enabled the good and honest people to be away from suffering and enjoy happiness and the villains to drop their cleavers and stop their bad conduct. Therefore, casting bells was an act of great service.

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