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Chinese Chau Gongs


Chau Gongs are what most people think of when they think of a Chinese Gong.  Sometimes called a Bullseye Gong, Chao Gong, or Chow Gong, Chau Gongs have a black outer edge and a black center and are lathed in the mid section to expose the shiny bronze.

Cultural notes

The Chau Gong dates from the early Western Han Dynasty. Traditionally, chau gongs were used to clear the way for important officials and processions, much like a police siren today. Sometimes the number of strokes was used to indicate the seniority of the official. In this way, two officials meeting unexpectedly on the road would know before the meeting which of them should bow down before the other.

The Chau Gong is now used in the majority of the worlds Symphony Orchestras.

Touching a gong is believed to bring a person good luck, health and happiness; however, it is important to have permission to approach a gong. Respect for the physical gong and the spirit of the gong is of primary importance.

Suggested activities

Music and Movement:

  • Use the beater to hit the centre of the gong. Experiment to see if the sound changes if you hit the gong in the centre, or on the edge of the gong. Experiment with hitting the gong softly and hard. Listen to how long the gong continues to ring for.
  • Listen to traditional Chinese music – can you hear the gongs?
  • Borrow some other Chinese percussion instruments including cymbals, and create your own beats.

Art & Craft:

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The research for this resource was made possible through a grant from the Central Coast Council.