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Tiger bells in South Asia


Apart from the type B tiger bells, attached to yak belts as seen in the Tibetan Refugee market in New Delhi and the belt given below, there is only one report: a tiger bell of the smaller type B.

However according to several shop owners and antique dealers in Nepal, tiger bells of the C type are produced until this very day in factories in Dehra Dunn (Uttar Pradesh, near the border with Himachal Pradesh) and Rajpur, for the Tibetan and Nepalese market.

In Nagaland an unusual variation of type A tiger bells is reported..

A tiger bell of the smaller type B, in a shop in Mahabalipuram (1990, Tamil nadu), now in the author's collection. No details were known and there are no other indications that tiger bells occur in this area.

Dimensions: wide 3,4 cm., high 3,4 cm., side 3,2 cm., hoop 1 cm.

Assam, Nagaland
Group: Naga
Several strands of small metal sequins, strung as necklaces, with two or three tiger bells and ordinary bells. The strands have probably been restrung for trading purposes. Originally they were much longer and were worn by Naga women around the upper body. The tiger bells are of an unusual type. Type A comes closest. Age and origin are unknown.

Reported by Rinus van Huijksloot who has several of these strands in his shop, the Nusantara Museum shop in Delft (Neth). Also see several photographs in The Nagas, hill people of Northeast India by Julian Jacobs, published by Thames and Hudson.

Hans Brandeis, ethnomusicologist in Berlin, reports:

…I noticed the tiger bells in 1997 inside a glass cabinet in the basement of the Museum für Völkerkunde. I could not take them out. But the objects in that cabinet were from India. I could see the archive number: 103.315.

The tiger bells were mounted on a leather strip, probably about 10 pieces, of which 8 bells are visible in the picture…

This a yak or horse belt, similar to those in the Tibetan Refugee market in New Delhi. The bells are of the B type.

Photograph: courtesy Hans Brandeis

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