Every day at noon, a large antique gun is fired in Hong Kong. And no, it has nothing to do with war, conflicts or protests.
As the television network tells CNN, a garden noonday gun, as it is known, is actually an old piece of naval artillery with an even gentle side. Named after its owner, Jardine Matheson Company, a company founded in the early 1830s.
This powerful Hong Kong-based company, which does business in everything from real estate to automobiles, is known for its impressive skyscraper in Victoria Harbour, just a few kilometers from this ancient weapon in Causeway Bay.
According to the television station, there are several stories about this weapon, which ended up becoming a tourist attraction, but the most commonly repeated is that, during the British colonial era, it was fired whenever the owner of Jardine Matheson in or out of the building.
This man was locally known as “taipan”, the Chinese word for a non-Chinese head of a company based in China. The land on which the weapon is located still belongs to Jardine Matheson and was the first land sold to a Western private company in Hong Kong.
According to one legend, the sound of the gun being fired – which is still loud enough to arouse the attention of people passing by – made such an impression on the nearby Royal Navy that it ordered it to be fired every day, at noon, as a way to make sure everyone’s clocks were coordinated.
Another version of the story is that Jardine Matheson’s “taipan” was greeted by a 21-gun salute, much to the horror of the local military, who reserved this tradition only for high-ranking officers. As a result, the Navy “punished” the company, forcing it to institute this daily shooting.
Whatever the true story, it remains a tradition that has survived World Wars, government transfers and major weather incidents. And there is only one exception to the rule: na new year’s eve, the gun is fired at midnight.
For those visiting Hong Kong, it is good to know that this attraction can be visited every day, from 12:00 to 12:30, and it is even possible to have the honor of firing the gun.
For this, it is necessary to donate an amount, not exactly small, to MINDSET, an organization linked to mental health financed by Jardine. The minimum donation is 28,000 Hong Kong dollars for individuals, around 2960 euros, and 38 thousand for companies (about four thousand euros).