The Legend of the Girl who Cast the Bell
According to legend, a master blacksmith tried unsuccessfully for over a year to cast the huge bell comissioned from him and was fast running out of time. On the eve of his last attempt, his daughter, fearing that a further delay would bring blame on her father, decided to sacrifice her life in order to move the gods to bring about a perfect casting, and she suddenly threw herself into the molten bronze.
The casting was a success and the emperor, moved by the young girl’s spirit of sacrifice, named her as ‘Goddess of the Golden Furnace’ and built a temple in her honor near to the foundry. To the ordinary people, she is remembered as the ‘Goddess Who Cast the Bell’.
“Go to sleep!
The Bell Tower is tolling.
The Goddess who cast the bell wants her embroidered slipper back!”
This is the legend told about the King Bell of Beijing, the huge bronze bell which was hung in the Bell Tower of Beijing by the great Emperor Yongle (spelled Yung-lo in this story) in 1403, and remains there to this day. Emperor Yongle was also responsible for the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven.
The bell is over 10 inches thick, weighs 46 tons and is nearly 7 metres tall (23 feet). It is inscribed with 230,000 words of Buddhist Mantras all around, both inside and out. When struck, it can be heard up to 50 kilometres away.