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Attack and Reteat signals?


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#1 Ghost_of_Han

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Posted 30 July 2004 - 07:30 PM

In Three Kingdoms they reteat and attack with Gongs and Drums. But in Art of War they say they use Bells and Drums is this just a different translation, or have the forms of signalling in battle change from period to period?

#2 Kulong

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Posted 30 July 2004 - 07:33 PM

I wouldn't be surprised if forms of signalling change throughout history. However, mistranslation is just as unsurprising.
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#3 General_Zhaoyun

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Posted 30 July 2004 - 08:31 PM

Bells are used in Taoist ritual... I've never heard of it being used in the army. Isn't it too soft for a signal. Gongs are perhaps more significant.
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#4 Yun

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Posted 30 July 2004 - 09:29 PM

They had some very large bells back then. Have you seen the Bianzhong (Chime Bells) from the tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng? If you've watched the RTK television series by CCTV you'll have seen them striking a bell with bronze hammers to sound the retreat. A gong was also used as an alternative, but that was also a small high-pitched gong rather than a large resounding one. The signal for retreat was simply "striking the metal" (mingjin 鸣金), and thus anything metallic was OK.

The drums, on the other hand, were often very large, to create a truly awe-inspiring roar. I've heard the Chinese drum beaten as a signal for a charge (in a performance that we took part in when I was training in the Singapore army), and it's really morale-stirring for your own guys and terrifying for the enemy. Much more so than the little Western military drum, which is really more for marching than anything else. Compared to the drums, all that's needed for the bells or gongs is that they be loud and high-pitched enough to be audible above the roar of battle.

An example of large Chinese bronze bells:
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