The Bell in Tonga determines when the sun rises and sets!

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Comments (14)

Marilyn Whiteley on July 27, 2008

Very beautiful, evocative photo, Ian! Best wishes, Marilyn

Ian Stehbens on July 27, 2008

Thank you Marilyn. You'll get to know this bell when you visit Tonga, for it is at the theological college where they are waiting for a visiting professor of women's studies and/or of church history. It will wake you up quite regularly.


Liviu Chirilă on July 27, 2008

Great shot! I couldn't tell that was a bell. Thanks for the explanation. Liviu

Ian Stehbens on July 28, 2008

Dear Liviu,

Let me explain why anyone who has been to Tonga will see the bell...for one cannot miss the bells of Tonga!

Every church and school and college has a bell (or a lale, a hollowed wooden log that is beaten with a heavy piece of wood).

The bells ring for about 90secs or sometimes for 5 minutes, to tell the people it is time to begin to prepare for church, then later to tell them it is time to start walking to church, then again later when it is about time to begin worship or other activity and it seems to keep ringing till everyone has entered. And remember that in a village there may be four or more churches all doing this at around the same time. On Sunday this starts at 5:30am. Then there is Wednesday and Thursday.

The sound of each bell is quite distinctive, and the role of bell ringer very important. No one sleeps through Sunday morning bells!

Believe me, the bell in Tonga determines when the sun rises and sets!

Warmest wishes,


Liviu Chirilă on July 28, 2008

OK, I understand now. Well, the bell ringer must be highly respected in Tonga :) Liviu

arif solak on July 30, 2008

hello ))

very nice your photos ...... please visit my photos galaria…


Greetings Arif

Antonietta * on August 13, 2008

Great shot Ian Very complete explanation regarding bells at Tonga, it is so interesting! Regards

Ian Stehbens on August 16, 2008

Dear Arif and Antonietta,

I have just returned from Indonesia - an hour ago - so it is special to open Panoramio and find your comments. Thank you both. I am happy if I can inform as well as share photos of some of the places I love. Thank you for your galleries.

Kind regards,


Ed. Rodríguez Prati on August 18, 2008

I'll see now if it allows the comment Ian. Told then I didn't imagine you still have so great photos from Tonga to upload. The frame for the sunset is fantastic. The photos from China I told you are from 1934 to 1941. Warmest wishes, Edmundo

Ian Stehbens on August 19, 2008

Thanks Edmundo, and I pleased that it accepted your comment this time. It is interesting that you see the frame for the sunset, whereas I saw the sunset as a backdrop to the bell! There are more images in store for Tonga, but I must move on. As soon as I have time, Sulawesi images will be next. The 4 Australian cum Paraguay rural images are an interlude.

I will follow through with you on the China images in due course. Please be patient for I am flowing into a very heavy period of the year.

Kind regards,


EVA_L on August 19, 2008

Sunsets in Tonga are beautiful as well as the wilderness! In the hours of dusk and dawn how far can be heard the sound of this bell.

Great image, dear Yan!

Ian Stehbens on August 20, 2008

I look forward so much to your responses, Eva, for it is a real privilege to share my special places and travels with you. The bell certainly dominates village life in Tonga, particularly on Sunday. This particular one is at a large college campus and is heard across the campus, and awakens you from deep sleep!

With fond greetings to Kiev,


Bulbas on March 20, 2009

Fine colors

Ian Stehbens on March 22, 2009

Hi Bulbas,

Right now, about 60 kms to the NW of here, there is an undersea volcano erupting. So if I were to be taking this photo again it would be much more colourful, much redder, because of the volcanic ash in the atmosphere.

Kind regards,


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Photo details

  • Uploaded on July 26, 2008
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    by Ian Stehbens