City Weekend - - Cover Story -

The story of Beijing's Bell Tower is pop­u­lar, but if you are new to the city (or have not heard it), then we are here to tell. Dur­ing the Ming Dy­nasty, Em­peror Zhu Di or­dered the con­struc­tion of a gi­gan­tic bell that could be heard from miles away. The ar­ti­sans could not man­age to make a bell of such stature even three years af­ter it had been com­mis­sioned. The an­gry Em­peror gave a dic­tum stat­ing that if the bell was not com­pleted within 80 days, all the ar­ti­sans were to be be­headed. Days passed yet the fur­nace tem­per­a­ture could not be raised high enough to cast iron of that size. On the fi­nal day when all the ar­ti­sans were scared of the in­evitable, all of a sud­den the daugh­ter of the head ar­ti­san threw her­self into the fire. Her fa­ther could not save her but only man­aged to grab hold of one of her em­broi­dered shoes. It is said that her fi­nal sac­ri­fice lit the fire to the ex­act heat re­quired for the task and thus the bell was fi­nally com­plete. Peo­ple say that the bell rings with a sound like “Xie Xie…

Xie Xie” which sounds like “thank you” or “shoe” in Chi­nese. Maybe the poor girl is still ask­ing for her shoe or thank­ing the city for remembering her.

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