These are a pair of stone Gate Drums at the hutong of Nan Luogu Xiang (means the South
Gong and Drum Alley) of Beijing. Again, it is one of the symbols of power and wealth of
officials in ancient China, and the size of and the patterns on the drums entirely depend on
the political and economic position of their owners.
There are two things that most people wonder.
Why people have built drums at the gate? In other word, what is the significance of “drums
when they are at the gate”? Ancient Chinese people relied on objects of certain symbolising meanings to “ward off evil spirits and bring
in good fortunes”. This was even more important for the royal empire and the officials.
Similarly, people thought that drums, with its thunder-like sound when beaten, could scare
away and defeat evil things and defend for the house at the gate. The patterns on these
drums are “auspicious clouds”, meaning that fortunes and luck would be brought by clouds
in the sky.
The second thing you might ask is why they appear as a pair and in perfect symmetry. One
of the important traditions in Chinese culture is to appreciate the beauty and significance of
“symmetry”. “Symmetry” stands for “matching”, meaning that a person’s social position
matches their family background. Symmetry also means “balancing” and “neutral”, meaning
that a person who can stand in the middle and balance things well on their left and right
should take the power and to rule.