Bells are used commonly all over the world for different purposes. Today, they are most significantly placed in religious places like churches and temples. The history of bells can actually be traced back, at least, four thousand years to the Yangshao culture of Neolithic China.
The Illustrious History of Bells
The first ever bell to be made and used is accredited to Chinese metalworkers who created crude prototypes by binding tiles together. The ability of this structure to amplify sound was regarded highly and its primary function was, therefore, to communicate to masses.
According to some archeological sources, pottery bells were made before their metal counterparts, though the claim cannot be substantiated. It took more than a century for bells to enter the European landscape after gaining popularity all across Asia.
In Asia, ringing bells would mark the end of a work day for laborers, or an important announcement being made by the local authorities. Due to its ability to create a sound that traveled large distances, bells became a common method of reaching out to people.
They’d be used in marketplaces to announce the availability of freshly harvested/caught goods. Or they’d be used in times of war to alert people that the enemy was close. Ringing bells could also beckon worshippers to the temples or announce a funeral. Bells had innumerable purposes before they were employed as decorative symbols.
Over time, bells became a symbol to highlight the dignitaries. The emperor would have four bells adorning all corners of his house, the duke or prince would have three of these, a minister would have two, and a government official would have one bell adorning the entrance. Bell carvings and artistry also gained popularity around the same time.
A few more years down the line, bells infused with local cultures and religions in a way that they are now an integral part of life. A religious place, be it a temple or a church, would be considered incomplete without the bell. Art-adorned bells gave rise to the intricately carved monuments that mark these religiously significant places today.
The Structure of a Bell
The construct of a bell is quite simple. A hollow metal cast in the shape of an inverted cup with a clapper suspended in the middle; who could’ve thought this would create that wonderful sound we all admire!
Some of the most recent bells are designed to produce different tones when struck. While the basic science remains the same, altering the shape of the dome creates different tones.
Due to the sheer size of church bells, their mechanics differ slightly from traditional bells. Some church bells are fixed; you need to strike a hammer on its surface or pull the internally suspended clapper to ring it. On the other hand, the church bells mounted on a beam swing to and fro to create the sound.
Bells come in all shapes and sizes, creating a wide range of unique sounds. Due to their versatility, their usage has evolved greatly with time.
Ringing Bells Today
Originally used to alert people at a distance (like the ships ringing bells in a fog to communicate their movement and alert any other ships in the vicinity), bells were eventually adapted as a percussion instrument by the music industry as well. Its powerful sound adorns many music pieces of today, ranging from popular to classical tunes and more.
But this isn’t really what makes the bell so dear to us, is it? For the most part, no one can erase the memory of the ringing bell that marks the end of a class in school, particularly on the last day of the week. It’s so thrilling to know there’ll be two complete days to have fun before being put through the ordeal again. That’s something every school-goer will cherish for life!
Bells have a positive impact on the mind and the soul and hold immense symbolic significance for people. This is one reason why bell jewelry became popular as people preferred to keep this good luck charm close to their hearts.
If you’d like to keep it close too, don’t forget to view the Bell Collection. It makes a wonderful addition to your daily attire.