California Culture


Korean Friendship Bell San Pedro, CA

The Age-old Chinese Bell Culture

The bell originated from the ling, a small type of bell. At first, the ling was baked out of pottery clay. In the 1950s, archaeologists discovered a red pottery ling from the remains of the Yangshao culture at Miaodigou, the Sanmen Gorges, Henan Province. With a height of 9.2 centimeters and a rim diameter of 5 centimeters, the ling is hollow and a handle is attached to its top. A small hole on each side of the shoulder leads to the inside of the ling to fix the dapper. The surface of the ling is polished without any decorative patterns. The cross section is circular. It was made between 3900-3000 BC.

 New Year's Eve / New Year
A unique, fun, and family friendly way to ring in the new year!
 FREE with museum admission
Children 12 and under always admitted free!

9:30–11:30 am: Bell Ringing for Asian Art Museum Members
10:00 am–3:00 pm: Art Activities
11:30 am: Bell Ringing Ceremony

Say goodbye to 2011 with family and friends by taking a swing at a giant temple bell!
Bring your loved ones to the Asian Art Museum and literally ring in the New Year, Japanese-style.

Everyone is invited to participate in the auspicious Japanese tradition of striking a temple bell. This popular event offers the community a memorable
opportunity to reflect peacefully upon the passing year.

As in past observances, a 2100-lb., sixteenth-century Japanese bronze bell originally from a temple in Tajima Province in Japan and now part of the museum's
collection will be struck 108 times with a large custom-hewn log. According to Japanese custom, this symbolically welcomes the New Year and curbs the 108
bonno (mortal desires) which, according to Buddhist belief, torment humankind.

It is hoped that with each reverberation the bad experiences, wrong deeds, and ill luck of the past year will be wiped away. Thus, tolling heralds the start
of a joyous, fresh New Year.

Zen Buddhist priest Gengo Akiba Roshi will conduct a blessing and begin the bell ringing. Akiba Roshi is director of the Soto Zen Buddhism North American
office. He is also a Zen teacher at Oakland's Kojin-an Zendo.

Hands-on art activities are offered in the education studios to entertain families while waiting for their turn at the bell.

It was a sign of nostalgia 10 years ago when California Department of Transportation leaders began mapping plans to restore the vintage bell markers along
the original El Camino Real route, which largely follows U.S. 101.

Since then, the state has installed 555 new bells at about two-mile intervals along El Camino Real between San Diego and Sonoma, with women's clubs and other
organizations placing hundreds more at other locations.

Each has been cast from the original molds made 100 years ago by women's club member Mrs. Armitage C.E. Forbes, the mastermind of the civic coalition that
created the original highway markers.

A hands-on leader, Forbes herself poured molten metal into the bell-shaped forms in a corner of a foundry owned by her husband. She eventually created a
business entity, California Bell Co., to manufacture them. Bearing the legend "El Camino Real" and the dates "1769 & 1906," each marker also had a small sign
on its post showing the distance to the next town or mission.

As women's club members installed the bells, the California State Automobile Assn. and the Automobile Club of Southern California took over their
maintenance. The state's Division of Highways assumed responsibility in 1933.

two women's groups worked on the bells from 1906 to 1930.

By the time Forbes died in 1951 at age 90, she had sold California Bell. The long-dormant firm was owned by retired La Cañada Flintridge businessman Joe Rice
until 2000. That's when mortgage banker John Kolstad entered the picture.

Growing up in Whittier, Kolstad had been fascinated by a rusty old El Camino Real bell at Whittier Boulevard and Colima Road. He decided to find one like it
for the backyard of his home in the Bay Area community of Saratoga.

When he tracked down Rice, the 84-year-old wouldn't sell him one of the spare bells that was crammed into his Oakwood Avenue garage along with the original
foundry molds and boxes of historic photographs and documents. But Rice would sell him California Bell.

"All I wanted was one bell. But I knew if I didn't pick up the torch, it would all be gone — these old patterns and forms and history would all end up in the
junk yard," Kolstad told a crowd of about 100 at Tuesday's unveiling across from the Olvera Street plaza.

The revived California Bell sells authentically cast copies of the original El Camino Real bell for about $2,000. They come with 6-pound clappers. To thwart
vandals, those erected next to public roadways do not.

In 2004, California Bell owner John Kolstad
was contracted by Caltrans to supply new
bells. When Kolstad pushed on the pipe
holding up the bell on Broadway it nearly fell
over, he said. It was one of two bells removed.
The city wasn't notified of the removal since
Caltrans maintains El Camino Real. It has
remained in storage ever since.

Caltrans has erected 555 of the markers along the King's Highway." The originals had largely disappeared. (Richard Hartog / LAT) Aug 15, 2006

All the missions had bells. There is a complete list of the 21 missions, by location on our website.

The mission bells were hung in a bell tower or companario, or in some missions in a bell wall. They were used to notify the inhabitants of church services
(the day started with the ringing of bells), to announce daily events (meals, for example) and to signal the arrival of visitors. The bells were rung
extensively on feast days as part of the festivities.

Soledad original bell inside church

ells were used in the missions to call everyone to the church for services starting at sunrise, to communicate the time of day and to regulate daily life in
the community. In the mission era neither the priests nor the Indian neophytes had watches.

The mission bells started the day and summoned everyone to morning mass. The bells were also rung at noon to announce the midday meal and at sunset, when the
bells called everyone home from work.

The bells used in the early missions were sent by ship with other supplies from New Spain (Mexico) and were considered essential in founding a new mission
where they were hung from poles until a church could be built. The bells were blessed in a special service. The bells show the date they were cast.

Most of the California missions had a bell tower or companario to hold the mission bells. Some had bell walls attached to the church.

Perhaps the most well know bells in the California Missions are those at San Juan Capistrano, shown in this picture.

I believe that three of the four bells at San Jose are original. I don't have any detailed information about their history but the mission bells were
typically made of cast iron, and imported from what the Spanish called New Spain, present day Mexico. There were traces of other minerals in the bells
(possibly small amounts of silver) but none were made totally of silver. The original mission church was destroyed in a terrible earthquake in 1868. The
bells fell out of the turret that held them. A new wooden church, St. Josephs, was built on the foundation of the ruined mission. Three of the bells were
hung in the wooden steeple of that church until 1970s. I believe that the fourth bell was used at another California church and was recast, but ultimately
returned to the San Jose Mission. St. Josephs was relocated to Burlingame in 1982 to make room for a reconstruction of the original mission.

Santa Clara de Asis, 8th mission
Located on the Guadeloupe River, the log chapel was founded in 1777 by Father Serra in honor of St. Clare only three months before his death. In 1851 the
work began which ultimately produced Santa Clara University as we know it today. Located about 40 miles south of San Francisco, the main garden is devoted to
tree roses, a mission tradition, and the string of willows planted along the miles between the mission and the pueblo of San Jose is today a well-traveled
San Jose street known as The Alameda. Some initial mission walls exist and the bell tower holds the original bells sent from Spain. The University is rich in
relics of the mission with a library of notable archival material.
500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, 95953, (408) 554-4023

San Buenaventura, 9th mission
The ninth mission in the chain was founded on Easter Sunday in 1782 by Father Serra and dedicated to St. Bonaventure. It was the last mission the humble
priest would christen. Restored in 1957, the facade exhibits an unusual triangular design which opens into the gardens. A museum exhibits artifacts that
include two old wooden bells, the only ones of their type known in California. Situated three blocks from the ocean, the mission fronts on the main street of
225 E. Main St., Ventura, 93001, (805) 648-4496

How many bells does the San Juan Capistrano mission have?

How many bells does the San Juan Capistrano mission have?

The Great Stone Church of San Juan Capistrano had bells hung in the tower. When the church collapsed in a massive earthquake, in 1812, the four original
bells survived and were hung in a bell wall the following year. The two largest bells were cast in 1796, the others in 1804.

In 2000 the bells were removed from the bell wall and used for molds to make copies. They were saved after the copies were made, and placed in their current
location in 2004. The two large bells on display within the Great Stone Church are now the original bells. The large bells in the bell wall are copies.

Korean Bell of Friendship and Bell Pavilion Korean Bell of Friendship and Bell Pavilion

This massive and intricately-decorated bell and pavilion was donated in 1976 to the people of Los Angeles by the people of the Republic of Korea to celebrate
the bicentennial of the U.S. independence, honor veterans of the Korean War, and to consolidate traditional friendship between the two countries. The bell is
patterned after the Bronze Bell of King Songdok, which was cast in 771 A.D. and is still on view in South Korea today.

The bell was cast in Korea and shipped to the United States. Weighing 17 tons, with a height of twelve feet and a diameter of 7-1/2 feet, the bell is made of
copper and tin, with gold, nickel, lead and phosphorous added for tone quality. When it was built, it cost the Korean people $500,000. Four pairs of figures,
each pair consisting of the Goddess of Liberty holding a torch, and a Korean spirit , are engraved in relief on the body of the bell. Each of the Korean
spirits holds up a different symbol: a symbolic design of the Korean flag; a branch of the rose of Sharon, Korea's national flower; a branch of laurel,
symbol of victory; and a dove of peace. The bell has no clapper but is struck from the outside with a wooden log.

The bell is set in a pagoda-like stone structure which was constructed on the site by thirty craftsmen flown in from Korea. It took them ten months and costs
$569,680. The pavilion is supported by twelve columns representing the twelve designs of the Oriental zodiac. Animals stand guard at the base of each column.

Resting peacefully on the knoll overlooking the sea gate from which U.S. troops sailed into the Pacific, the bell site affords an unsurpassed view of the Los
Angeles harbor, the Catalina Channel and the sea terraces of San Pedro hill. The bell is rung only four times each year: the Fourth of July, August 15
(Korean Independence Day) and New Year's Eve, and every September to coincide with bell ringings around the country to celebrate Constitution week.

Korean Bell of Friendship and Bell Pavilion
Angels Gate Park
3601 S Gaffey Street
San Pedro, CA 90731
(310) 548-7705

Beginning in 2010, the bell is struck five times a year: on New Year's Eve, Korean American Day (January 13), the national independence day of the United
States (Fourth of July) and Korean Liberation Day (August 15) and every September in celebration of Constitution Week. It was also rung on September 11, 2002
to commemorate the first anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The bell does not have a clapper; instead, it is sounded by striking it
with a large wooden log.

The pavilion which houses the bell was built by Korean craftsmen over a period of ten months. Its design is traditional. It is axially symmetric, consisting
of a hipped (aka 'pyramidal') roof supported by twelve columns representing the Korean zodiac, each column guarded by a carved animal.

The Belfrey of Friendship, which houses the Korean Bell of Friendship, was featured in two scenes of the movie The Usual Suspects.

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