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Tiger bells in the West


The West

In May 2010, during a trip to New York, USA, Dutch anthropologist Hendrik Wittenberg and his wife Babs visited a curio shop in China Town. They came across a basket full of tiger bells. He describes them as follows:
The bells are made of bronze, very light and poorly cast. The colour of the bronze is very light. When I asked the Chinese lady at the pay desk about the meaning of the characters, she said 'Something like: provide the people with what they need, likefood, water, sort of… well…actually I don’t know…”. When I asked her what name she used for the bells when she made back orders the lady said “Well, Sir, if I would know the answers to all your questions, I wouldn’t be sitting here in this shop, wouldn’t I?. Do you want to buy them?” So I bought two bells, $ 2,- each...

These are alternative, new tiger bells, similar to a larger bell from another report, said to be from the Qing dynastie and to a smaller bell from Burma and a bell of an unknown size from Korea. The fact that the shop had such a large quantity of these bells could indicate that they were not only for sale to tourists but also to the local Chinese community.

The dimensions of the bell are:
- width: 3,9 cm
- height: 3,9 cm.
- side: 3,1 cm.
- hoop: 1 cm.

Two Chinese characters on each side are clearly visible


Christine de Jong, Amsterdam, bought three small tiger bells in 2002, in a Chinese store in Amsterdam. The bells are of the alternative type because of the whiskers. The design looks more like a cat's head than a tiger (as with the bells from Syria and Korea). No further details were available.

The face looks more like that of a cat than of a tiger

Dimensons: wide 2 cm., high 1,7 cm., side 1,1 cm., hoop 0,5 cm square
As with the bells from New York this shop in Amsterdam had many of these bells in stock, probably to be sold not only to tourists but also to the local Chinese community.

Reported and donated to the author by Christine de Jong, December 2006.

See also reports from Malta and Great Britain.


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