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Iron-Cast Yunban Percussion Instrument of the Great Jin’s Heavenly Mandate in the Later Jin Dynasty

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Eighth year of the reign of Nurhaci in the Later Jin Dynasty (1623)

Made with iron. A total height of 55.5 cm with an upper width of 36 cm, a lower width of 44.5 cm, a thickness of 1.2 cm, and a weight of 12.5 kg. 

The instrument was iron-cast in one piece, with its upper and lower parts in the shape of clouds, and the body in the shape of a long strip. In the center of the instrument’s upper part is a round hole for a hanging cord. One side has fewer cast patterns, with only a smidgen of floral patterns cast at the top of the cloud at the bottom. The other side is cast with Chinese characters and floral patterns. On the surfaces of the clouds at the upper and lower parts are curly grass and flower patterns, and on each of the clouds is a bulging flower. In the center of each of the lower parts of the two sides are round knocked bulging spots surrounded by decorative petal patterns. On one side of the middle part of the strip body are Chinese characters, with the right side showing Dajin Tianming gui in double-lined regular script and the left side showing hainian zhu Niuzhuang in relief regular script. Below the two lines is Cheng in relief regular script. Together, they literally mean that this instrument was cast in Niuzhuang City during the era of Tianming (Nurhaci’s era name) of the Great Jin (now referred to as the Later Jin Dynasty). The Yunban percussion instrument was used by officials and soldiers of the Eight Banners stationed in various cities to sound alarms and pass around orders during the Later Jin Dynasty.