Photograph, black and white silver gelatin print, 'The Bell Tower', by Hedda Morrison, Peking, China, 1933-1946
This Bell Tower was built in the 13th century during the Mongol Yuan dynasty and originally stood at the southern end of the city slightly west of the present location. It was moved to its present site in the early 1400s. Today the Drum Tower and Bell Tower form part of an 'Old Peking preservation district'. The bell was struck in the morning and the drum tower sounded in the evening. Together they signfied the power of the emperor to order and control the lives of his subjects. This practice continued until the early twentieth century.
The Bell and Drum Towers represented the northernmost point of the central city axis which began in the south at the Yongding Gate (demolished 1957), passed through Tianqiao (demolished 1924), Zhengyang Gate (rebuilt 1903), Da Ming Gate (demolished 1959), Tiananmen (rebuilt 1969), Duanmen, Wumen, Taihe Hall, Shenwu Gate, Beishang Gate (demolished 1956), Wanqunting, and Di'an Gate (demolished 1954) to the Drum Tower and the Bell Tower.
This is one of a large number of photographs that were taken by Hedda Morrison (1908-1991) during her years of residence in Peking (Beijing), China 1933-1946.
Exhibited in 'Peking: 1933-1946 - A photographic impression', Menzies Library, Australian National University, 17-30 June 1967.
Reproduced in Hedda Morrison, 'A photographer in Old Peking', Hong Kong, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1985, p. 44, with the caption: 'The Drum Tower, thirty metres high, which helped protect the Forbidden City from malign influences. In imperial times a drum was beaten here at nightfall'.