Beijing's Subway (Metro) Art

LINE 8 – GulouDajie

GulouDajie is where Beijing’s bell and drum towers are situated, on the central axis. The bell and the drums were used for sounding the times of day and night for the city’s people.

The night was split into five time segments called Gengs which were equivalent to two hours. Each was named after animals in the Chinese zodiac. The first Geng came at dusk, and from 7pm to 9pm it was called Xu Shi, or Dog Hour. The second Geng, to mark when people went to sleep, was called Hai Shi or Pig Hour, and it ran from 9pm to 11pm. Zi Shi, or Rat Hour, signalled the middle of the night (11pm to 1am). The Fourth Geng was called Chou Shi, or Ox Hour (1am to 3am) and the Fifth Geng was Tiger Hour, or Yin Shi, and it ran from 3am to 5am.

The first and last of these Gengs were announced with the beating of drums followed by the striking of the bell and the gate of the city was closed as the sound of the first bell rang out each night.

It is these ‘hours’ that are written on the representation of the drum heads in the two murals.

Line 8’s concourse at Guloudajie has drum-shaped lights inspired by the nearby Drum Tower.

There’s also a brass image of the drum tower above one of the escalators going down to the platform.