The variety of sounds necessary for a perfect interpretation of nature, of earth and sky and also of yin and yang leads to the system of the eight tones (ba yin) according to the eight possible materials of the instrument. Schaeffner considers the ba yin as probably the oldest classification of musical instruments worldwide. In the ba yin, the metal is represented mainly by the bronze chime (bianzhong).
A complete bianzhong from 2,500 years ago found in the tomb identified as Marquis Yi's consists of 64 bells assembled in several racks, covering five octaves of twelve tones and whose operation required five musicians. Each almond shaped Yi bell offers two tones depending on whether it is hit from front or from side. The pieces vary in the thickness of the wall.
Music is the supreme art and imperial bells are dated, which is also the case for zithers. On September 15 in New York, Sotheby's sells the bell of the tenth pitch from a bianzhong of sixteen ovoid pieces. It wears the imperial Qianlong mark and is dated from the eighth year of his reign, 1743 in our calendar.
This bell 27 cm high that had belonged to the Hearst collection is estimated $ 1M, lot 160 and is introduced in an interesting news post by the auction house.