Myanmar has given the world two of the heaviest bells in history, the Great Bell of Dhammazedi which was the largest bell in history, and the Mingun Bell which is currently the world’s second-heaviest bell. The record of the world’s heaviest functioning bell belongs to the Bell of Good Luck in China, with a weight of 0.255 million pounds. However, Russia’s Tsar Bell is heavier than the Bell of Good Luck, weighing at 0.445 million pounds but is not considered as a true bell but rather as a bell-shaped sculpture since it cannot function as a percussion instrument.
The Great Bell of Dhammazedi
The Great Bell of Dhammazedi is the heaviest bell in history as its weight was approximated to be over 0.655 million pounds. The bell was over 20 feet in height and over 13 feet in width. The casting of the bell was done in February 1484 in line with the instructions of the king of Hanthawaddy Pegu, King Dhammazedi, after whom the bell was named. The bell was offered as a gift by the king to the Shwedagon Pagoda, situated in modern-day Myanmar. The tremendous size of the bell was outlined by 16th-century Venetian merchant, Gasparo Balbi who visited the Shwedagon Pagoda in 1583. The bell was later stolen by a 16th-century Portuguese mercenary, Filipe de Brito e Nicote. The mercenary had led a successful invasion of the kingdom in 1599 and removed the bell from the pagoda in 1608. The bell was then hauled to the Bago River where it was to be transported on board a raft. However, the raft collapsed under the great weight of the bell, plunging the bell into the depths of the river. There have been numerous attempts at salvaging the Great Bell of Dhammazedi over the years in form of ambitious underwater archeological projects which have been more intensive in recent years but none has been successful.
The Bell of Good Luck
The Bell of Good Luck is situated in the Foquan Temple near the Spring Temple Buddha in Henan, China. An impressive work of art, the bell features lotus flower patterns on its shoulder section. The Bell of Good Luck currently holds the title of the world’s heaviest functioning bell, and it weighs 0.255 million tons. Only the ancient Great Bell of Dhammazedi is heavier but does not hold the record, at least until it is salvaged. However, the Bell of Good Luck surpasses the Great Bell of Dhammazedi both in length and width, as it has a length of 26.7 feet and a width of 16.7 feet. The casting of the Bell of Good Luck was completed in December 2000. The first ringing of the bell coincided with mid-night of the New Year of 2000-2001.
The Mingun Bell
The second-heaviest functioning bell in the world is the Mingun Bell, a huge bell weighing 0.195 million pounds situated in Mingun, Myanmar. The bell was the first cast in 1808 and suspended in 1810. The bell was established as the world’s heaviest bell until an earthquake knocked it off its support in March 1839. In March 1896, a professional team re-suspended the bell, making it regain the record of the world’s heaviest bell.