As you may have noticed, the outer appearances of the bell tower and the drum tower is basicly the same. Except for their contents and functions both buildings are supposed to be identical as according to the provisions for Feng Shui. Thus, the lower storeys are built with brick walls. The upper parts however are made out of wood, which is then built with elegance into several partitions going upward.
The Drum Tower:
Originally, the drum tower held large drum emboldened with dragon patterns. It was 1.45 meters tall and had a diameter of 1.87 meters with a circumference of 4.3 meters. Both sides of the drum were covered with ox hide.
In the process of the drum tower here at Zhihua Temple in the year 1987 AD, the original drum kept in the tower was moved out of it, and was to be installed
in the Zhi Hua Hall of the temple after restoration. There it is on display to this day.
Although the drum was not lost but placed elsewhere in the Temple a new replica drum of a smaller size was placed inside the Drum Tower in order to preserve the sanctity and Feng Shui balance of the Temple complex.
The replica was made using the same old techniques with which the original had been crafted. It is however not on display for the visiting public as both the bell tower and the drum tower usually remain locked and sealed.
THE BELL TOWER:
As for the Bell Tower of the front court of the ZhiHua Temple, it holds the original bell cast for this Temple in the year 1444 AD in the Yingzong Reign (1435 AD - 1449 AD) of the Ming Dynasty. The wealth of its master, a man who was the powerful closest friend of the Emperor ensured that a true masterpiece could be created.
This Bronze Bell, created for the eunuch Wang Zheng is 1.6 meters high, 9 centimeters thick and with a diameter of 1.05 meters. Depicted on its surface are more than 20 kinds of mantras written in Sanskrit, the original language of Buddhism.
In addition to their marvelous contents the wooden structures of the towers are also made up out of special pieces themselves. In the case of the towers in this courtyard, the base joints of both the upper and lower brackets as seen on the corner of each wooden partition are made to be exactly twice as wide as they would normally be in the building tradition of this kind of tower. The intention most likely was to give the building more load bearing capacity, which was needed to be able to install its massive bronze bell without having the alter the proscribed proportions of the temples tower structures, in this case the Bell Tower.
An overview of the frontal court of the Zhihua Temple showing the two turtle steles in front of the matreya hall and the Drum Tower situated on the east side of the court.
View of the main hall of the front court from the arched entrance gate of Zhi Hua Temple. One cannot but help notice the white marble turtle steles placed on both sides of the central line of the Temple.
Lush green bamboo planted in the east of the court adjacent the bell tower of Zhihua Temple.