Chinese Instrument – Bronze drum


Bronze drums were often used in wars to direct the advance and retreat of the army, and also often used in banquets, music, and dance. The bronze drum is the crystallization of a long and splendid ancient Chinese culture and a symbol of the wisdom of Chinese ancestors. It has the characteristics of Oriental art and is a treasure of the world’s cultural and artistic treasure house. Bronze drums are also circulated in Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and even the Indonesian islands.

On January 10, 2016, a huge bronze drum with a diameter of 4.2 meters, a height of 2.6 meters, and a weight of 7 tons was designed and produced by Wei Qichu, the representative inheritors of Guangxi’s intangible cultural heritage ” Zhuang Bronze Drum Casting Techniques ” and the Wei Qian brothers. Yes [1]  Currently the world’s largest bronze drum

The bronze drum is shaped like a round drum with various patterns, and some bronze drums also have toad patterns. The diameter of the bronze drum is as large as 2.3 meters and the diameter is 0.7 meters. More than 1,500 bronze drums have been unearthed in China so far. More than two hundred bronze drums have also been found in Laos, and there are thousands of folk collections and unearthed in Thailand.

Bronze drum


Main features

The bronze drum is a kind of bronze ware with special social significance in ancient my country. It was originally a percussion instrument and later turned into a symbol of power and wealth. It was regarded as a kind of precious heavy vessel or ritual vessel, so it also became the object of sacrifice. From the Spring and Autumn and the Warring States to the Ming and Qing Dynasties, there were bronze drums, and the most exquisite and styles were made in the Han Dynasty. According to the different regions and styles of bronze drums, it can be divided into two major systems: Dian and Cantonese. In general, the Dian copper drums are relatively small, and the patterns are mostly divided by single strings, and the halos form wide and narrow changes in size. The Cantonese bronze drums are tall, with three-dimensional frog reliefs on the drum surface.

The decorative patterns of bronze drums are commonly seen in the following types: The sun pattern is the most common center decoration pattern on the drum surface of a bronze drum. It has two expressions. The sun pattern of the Dian system has a long acute angle, while the sun pattern of the Canton system is thin. Long as a needle.

The frog pattern is the most distinctive decoration, all made in three-dimensional relief, there are four, five, and six. Some of these frogs all face the bulging heart, some back to the bulging heart, and some rotate in one direction. The most interesting is the stacked frog, also known as the tired squatting frog, the big frog squatting on the back of the small frog, there are as many as three or four layers.

Heron pattern: The bird’s head has a large feather crest, flying in a graceful posture.

In addition, there are dance patterns, race patterns, and so on.

The bronze drum began to appear in the 7th century BC. The copper drums are all copper cast. The general drum surface is about 50 cm in diameter and 30 cm high (some of them are larger). The tympanum is hollow and bottomless. There are copper ring ears on both sides. Both the drumhead and the knocking body are engraved with delicate patterns. According to different shapes and patterns, bronze drums are divided into eight types: Wanjiaba type, Shizhaishan type, Lengshuichong type, Zunyi type, Majiang type, Beiliu type, Lingshan type, Ximeng type. A copper drum with a height of 67.5, a surface diameter of 166 cm, and a weight of 300 kg is discharged from the north of Guangxi. It is the largest bronze drum in the world today. There are 1,400 bronze drums collected throughout the country, and there are more than 200 folks scattered in the central and southwestern regions. China is the region where the largest number of bronze drums have been discovered, the earliest and the longest history of the age of casting and using bronze drums in the world.

After spreading to Southeast Asia, such as Yangon, it played a huge role. Generally used for sacrifices, musical instruments, convening, weddings, festivals, etc.

Main features

Playing method

During the dance, the bronze drum is hung up, one person hits the drum head with drumsticks, and one person holds the wooden barrel at the bottom of the drum to increase resonance. The sound is deep and deep and can be transmitted far away. Dancers (usually in groups) surround the drum and dance to the rhythm of the drumbeat.


Pattern and meaning

The copper drum is made of sophisticated craftsmanship and is cast with copper, tin, and aluminum alloy with copper as the main component. The five parts of the face, chest, waist, feet, and ears are integrated. The upper part of the drum is the chest, the middle part is the waist, and the lower part is the feet. There are two pairs of ears around the waist. Bronze drums vary in size and weight. The surface of the drum is mostly decorated with sun patterns, feather patterns, moire patterns, milk nail patterns, comb patterns, and flag patterns. According to the article “A New Exploration of the Bronze Drum and Its Pattern” written by the famous historian Huang Xianfan, the pattern of the bronze drum reflects the following meanings:

Nature worship

In agricultural production, the people know that the changes in yin, yang, rain, and snow are closely related to the sun, but they don’t understand the cause of this natural phenomenon, and the idea that “all things have animism” came into being. Therefore, the sun must be painted in the middle of the drum surface, reflecting the necessary sunlight for agricultural production.

Rain craving

Continuous convolute structure on the bronze drum. The square is called a thunder pattern, and the round is called a moire. It appeared early on pottery unearthed in the Neolithic Age, and its evolution can be seen in the oracle bone inscriptions, and it was developed during the Shang and Zhou Dynasties. Decorated on the bronze ware, the bronze drum used it as a pattern, reflecting that the ancestors had always engaged in agricultural production, of which the thunder pattern had the greatest influence, and the thunder temple was built for rain.

Pattern and meaning

Totem worship

As a reflection of totem worship, the drum surface is decorated with four to eight frogs, some big frogs bear small frogs, and some big frogs have several small frogs. This is the worship of frogs by the ancients. Because “the sound of the frog is the essence of the bronze drum (drum)” and “the one with the great drum sound is the best”, tortoises and frogs can know the time of the sky, so they are regarded as gods. As for the flying heron pattern, the zodiac sign, and the money pattern, they are all related to natural phenomena and organisms that are closely related to agricultural production.

Related customs

Percussion of bronze drums accompanied by singing and dancing is often closely related to religious ritual activities such as praying for the New Year. Chinese poets of the past dynasties have many vivid and vivid descriptions of the scenes of beating the bronze drum and singing and dancing. For example, the poet Wen Tingyun of the Tang Dynasty chanted in “The River Dushen “: “The bronze drum races the gods. The full court is hovering with flags. The water village and rivers pass through the wind and thunder, and the Chu mountains are like picturesque smoke. The farewell sound is empty, and the jade looks sad. Thin. The green wheat swallows flew down, and the rolling curtain worried about Zhuge.”

Five generations poet Sun Guangxian wrote in a poem ” Bodhisattva Man “: ” Kapok Ying Cong Temple is small, spring is dawn in the sound of more birds. Bronze drums and wild songs. Southerners pray for races. The wind of guest sails is fast, and Qian’s sleeves are snuggling.樯立. Banpu turned around a few times, Yanbo was infinitely worried.”

In the poems, there is a bright and charming southern country spring, and in the beautiful spring, accompanied by the drums and rugged singing, there is a lively scene of the dancing gods. In ancient times when science was extremely underdeveloped, the level of social productivity was very low. The phenomenon of people “believing in witches and playing bronze drums for prayer” and “playing bronze drums and sand gongs to worship ghosts and gods” was very common. This religious sacrificial activity is particularly popular in the remote mountainous areas of the southwest, especially on the banks of the Yangtze River and Guangdong and Guangxi. Ancient Chinese poets have repeatedly included the style of the God of Saijiang on the bronze drum in their poems. The poet Xu Hun of the Tang Dynasty chanted in “Send the Southerner’s Return to Your Husband”: “Green plumbing and green mushrooms, Xiangtan thousands of miles of spring. Varun welcomes visitors from the sea. , The bronze drum Saijiang god. Avoid the rain on the pine and maple shore, look at the clouds and Yangliujin. A glass of wine in Chang’an, there is a returnee on the seat.”

Related customs

World record

On January 10, 2016, a huge copper drum with a diameter of 4.2 meters, a height of 2.6 meters, and a weight of 7 tons was finally cast after 20 workers at the Wechs Folk Copper Drum Foundry in Huan Jiang, Guangxi, fought day and night for more than 6 months. , As a “gift” to welcome the New Year.

The bronze drum was designed and produced by Wei Qichu and Wei Qian, the representative inheritors of Guangxi’s intangible cultural heritage ” Zhuang bronze drum casting skills “. The brothers from blacksmiths have used sand mold casting methods to overcome the difficulties in copper drum casting since the 1990s. After years of trial and error, and after countless failures, they finally mastered the one-time molding casting technique. And other core skills.

This bronze drum is currently the world’s largest bronze drum. A Guinness World Records review event will be held for the bronze drum in Guilin, Guangxi on January 16, 2016.

The largest bronze drum: On June 29, 2018, a giant bronze drum cast in Hechi City, Guangxi successfully challenged the Guinness World Record for the largest bronze drum. This drum is a double-sided drum with a diameter of 6.68 meters and a thickness of 2.88 meters. (Guinness)


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