Audio Story: The Man Who Tried to Steal a Bell

The story of The Man Who Tried to Steal a Bell (in Chinese: 掩耳盗铃 yǎn ěr dào líng) was originally a caution against rulers refusing to listen to good advice, but later became used as an idiom meaning a person who deceives himself as well as others.

Read on to find out more about the story and listen to our narration!

A set of ritual bronze vessels from the 11th Century BC

Press play to hear AJ narrate the story to you!

The story takes place in the Spring and Autumn Period (771-476BC), a period of upheaval as states fought each other. It is taken from a book called Mr. Lü’s Spring and Autumn annals (not to be confused with the actual Spring and Autumn Annals that it was named after, which is the official chronicle of events that happened in the State of Lu (魯)). It was compiled in the late 230s BC, and was a kind of compendium of contemporary philosophical thought.  

The families in the story were all part of the State of Jin (晋). This period was during China’s Bronze Age, and bronze items, large ones especially, would have been very valuable, as illustrated in the story. Bronze at the time was used for weapons, such as the points of spears, and also for ritual vessels, as well as bells. Every large building such as a palace, temple or large residences for the very wealthy, would have had a drum and bell (set in towers if possible) for time-keeping and ceremonial use.

The bronze bell at Yellow Crane Tower, Wuhan

Which classic Chinese tale should we read next? Let us know in the comments below. We always love hearing your thoughts and insights! 

Photo Credits
– Metropolitan Museum of Art; Cultural Keys

Stay up-to-date with the latest offers, information and events from Cultural Keys. Follow our Official WeChat Account by scanning the QR code (click for larger image), or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn to be the first to know! 

For more information about anything on this page, or for more information about Cultural Keys, please contact us or use the form below to let us know your specific requirements.

Contact Form


    Your Name (required)

    Your Email (required)

    What is your enquiry about? (required)

    Your Message

    Recent Posts

    Mouseover to see left and right arrows

    Upcoming Events

    Mouseover to see left and right arrows

    About Cultural Keys – The Chinese Culture Company

    Cultural Keys helps people access, understand and experience the traditional culture of China. Click the image above to read more about Cultural Keys and what we can do for you, your school, company or organisation to help you get more out of your time in China!

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *