The bellman is a person who would beat the bamboo clapper or gong at night to remind people the time. The bellman now only appears in the movie or TV. In some places, there are people reminding the residents to keep alert on fireproof and burglarproof; they do the job similar to that of the bellman.
Sounding the night watches was a way to regularly declare the time at night in the bygone days. Before the foundation of the People's Republic of China, it was an ordinary job. Cities usually did not have watches, so it all depended on the bellman to inform the time. The bellman even existed in many villages and towns. Generally speaking, two bellmen would form a team, one holding a gong in the hand while the other a clapper. The two worked in cooperation with the clapping and banging sounding in alternative. The bellman needed to give the time five times a night, beating the clapper and the gong once every two hours. The fifth time is commonly called "wugengtian", when the dawn is coming and the rooster is crowing.