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The Bell of the Tanzhe Si (Temple of the Pool and the Wild Mulberry)

The Tanzhe Si, a typical Buddhist temple, stands in the Tanzhe Hills on the western outskirts of Beijing. It was the first temple that appeared in the Beijing area. The magnificent architecture could rival imperial palaces and halls. When the temple was built during the Jin Dynasty (AD265- 420), Buddhism began to spread in Ji (the ancient name of an area southwest of present- day Beijing, later known as Youzhou). So there is a saying that "First there was the Tanzhe Temple, then there was Beijing."

Buddhism was introduced into China during the Eastern Han Dynasty (AD 25-220). Temples were built throughout the country. The places where images of Buddha were enshrined and eminent monks from India stayed were regarded as sacred places like government offices. As the saying goes, "There were 480 temples during the Southern Dynasties. Many famous mountains were occupied by monks." Cast during the reign of Emperor Chenghua of the Ming Dynasty, the bell at the Tanzhe Temple is 0.47metre in height, 0.31 meter in rim diameter and 24.8 kilograms in weight. On the waist of the bell is an inscription of seal characters which means that the bell was made uring the reign of Chenghua of the Ming Dynasty. It is ecorated with fret patterns and a design of two dragons laying with a pearl. The exquisite bell is a proof of the renovation and extension of the Tanzhe Temple to the present cale at the end of the 17th century.

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