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Hubei Provincial Museum

Hubei Provincial Museum, located in the Wuchang District of Wuhan, Hubei Province, is the only provincial comprehensive museum in the province. The museum collects, protects, and exhibits the cultural relics discovered in the province. Since 1953, the museum has collected over 200,000 cultural relics, including pottery, porcelains, jade, bronze vessels, ancient weapons, and ancient musical instruments. Among these cultural relics, 812 are listed as first-class relics of China, and 16 are considered national treasures.

Good morning ladies and gentlemen,     Today, we will go to visit Hubei Provincial Museum. On the way to the museum, I'd like to show a present to express my warmest welcome to you. You may wonder what the present is. Well let me introduce it to you. The music you are going to listen to is the very gift. Now, please enjoy the music.

Have you ever listened to the music? And what musical instrument is used to play the beautiful melody? That's the serial bells, a wonder in the world. Indeed a wonder in the world. Every year tourists from all over the world continuously come to visit them and appreciate the programs played by it. Each year they return with unforgettable memory.

The building with red wall and green tiers before us is the very museum, Hubei Provincial Museum. Constructed in 1953, the museum is the center for collecting, studying, preserving and displaying historical and cultural relics in Hubei. More than 700,000 ancient relics are stored up in it. There is a collection of 100,000 books on history, archaeology, art etc. These relics provide precious material data for studying the development of history, culture, art, science and technology in ancient China.

Situated in the middle reach of the Yangtze River, Hubei has a long history and rich land. As early as 2,000,000 years ago, our ancestors lived and worked here and gradually they began to create their own civilization. The relics unearthed from Zenghouyi Tomb are good proofs to the civilization. The relics displayed in the museum are most from the tomb. Serial bells are the most precious and greatest of them all.

Are you familiar with the history of the serial bells?

It is said that it is the oldest musical instrument kept in the world. You see, our ancestors already knew how to use music to enrich their lives so long ago.

Luckily indeed, our archaeologists discovered it by accident and thus displayed the marvelous ancient civilization of Chu State in front us.

In 1978, a soldier discovered a large tomb when building his house. It was really a great surprise to discover it at that time. Afterwards, archaeologists excavated these serial bells on the same spot. This was appraised to be the tomb of Zenghouyi. It was220 square meters, 20 metros deep, consisting of 4 tombs. The main coffin was made up of huge internal and external coffins. The man in it died at the age of 45. Those buried alive with the dead were all female, aged from 13 to 25. They were in 21 coffins.

Besides the serial bells, more than 7,000 other historical cultural relics have been unearthed, such as bronze ware, ancient musical instrument, weapons, golden ware, jade ware, painted ware, woodenware, and bamboo ware. Most of them are unique art treasure and they were deliberately made.

What is especially worth mentioning is the ancient musical instrument, such as serial bells, stone chimes, drums, 25-stringed plucked zither, and bamboo flute. They are totally 8 types, including 124 pieces. The entire musical instrument is placed perfectly among the bronze serial bells. They make the tomb look like an ancient concert hall.

Today the underground concert hall has come back to life. As a major instrument, 64 serial bells are put in the middle room, lined along the north and west wall. It can be concluded that serial bells are Zenhouyi's favorite, for his body was placed in the west room.

As wee see, these big bells are shaped like round-bottomed baskets; small ones are like warming pots. They are hung in 3 layers from the winding bell shelf that is 13 meters long, 2.7 meters high. The whole bell shelf is supported by 6 human-shape objects. It is as strong as newly cast.

Ok, let me give you a brief introduction about the elegant ancient serial bells. All the bells have been played. They are all carved with inscription about musical melody. Each bell can produce 2 pitches. After many years of research, we find that its amplitude (approached the international level of today. The combined scale is the 7 notes in C major of today. Its compasses very side, including 5 and a half octaves The whole sound may be adjusted. Its wooden shelf is quite exquisite. Although buried for 2,400 years, the serial bells are well played. It not only can be used to play with to produce scores with the same melody, but also can produce mixed sounds though harmony and repeat tunes. Chinese musical pieces, such as Intoning Three Times Before Leaving Yang Pass, The Moon On The Spring River, and foreign pieces, such as Christmas Eve, can be played on it, even Beethoven's Ode to Joy in the Ninth Symphony can be. Foreign tourists are usually attracted by the fascinating music when listening to the Chinese song The Night On The Prairie. When foreign songs cut in, they are shocked by the old civilization of Chu State. As the famous violinist, Menuin praised it, "The grand Greek music is accepted by the world". However, the musical instruments in ancient Greece were made of wood, what's more, not a single instrument is kept till today. Here we are able to enjoy the sound of the instrument of 2,000 years' history from the tomb of Chu State.

Actually, whoever enjoys the music played on the serial bells will be surprised at the great achievement made by the people of Chu State in the fields of music, culture, smelting, and casting.

According to the history, Chu State was called the state of rites and music at that time. People in Chu State love dancing. They danced in the palace and sang in the room. They knew how to enjoy dancing and singing. We can imagine the following scene. The host of the bomb was seated in his palace and watched the girls dancing. On both his sides sat his followers. They sat on the floor. A table with short legs was placed in front of them. They put one hand on the table that is used to hold arms. This can be proved by the relics in the tomb.

Do you know, in China, a male and a female mandarin ducks are the symbol of love, for they often play together in the water and live together. Can you see the box here? This box was found in the tomb. The box was painted. It was empty in it. But there are some pictures. They describe a very vivid situation; some people are striking bells, beating drums and dancing. This picture is very precious, for we can know how these instruments should be played, especially the serial bells.I wonder if you have noticed that there is only one mandarin duck on the box. Do you know why? Oh, he is abandoned by his lover. But he found a new company—music. He didn't heed the other mandarin duck, for what he really loved was music.

Well, I have a question. What is the tourists' favorite?

 The music played on the serial bells.

There are also antique stores in the museum. After you visit the two exhibition halls, you can buy some souvenirs if you like.

Admission Fee: CNY 50
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday:
9:00-17:00 (No admission after 15:30)
Monday: Closed except on the Public Festivals
Bus Route: 14, 552, 578, 605, 701, 709, 712, 402, 411