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Tiger bells in South Asia


Tibet

Tiger bells are mainly of the B type, one type A tiger bell and two tiger bells type C are reported.

One bell type C, similar to those found in Nepal; on the catalogue card the country of origin, 'Tibet', is followed by a question mark

Leyden Ethnological Museum, collected in 1948.


Group: unknown, probably common
One type A tiger bell, probably used for dogs.

Collection: Leyden Ethnological Museum, procured in 1957.


Several yak belts with type B tiger bells were sold at the Tibetan Refugee market in New Delhi in the late seventies and early eighties. Belts such as these are in the Rotterdam Ethnological Museum and in the author's collection.



Yak belt, Rotterdam Ethnological Museum


Yak belt with eight bells (two missing), bought in New Delhi, at the
Tibetan Refugee market, 1975 (author's collection)

Type B bell, on the yak belt above
Dimensions: wide 4,5 cm. high 4,1 cm. side 5 cm. hoop 1,6 cm. rectangular


One small type A tiger bell, silver plated, on a silver prayer mill.
Photographed in an antique shop in Singapore.

Two tiger bells, one type B (left) and one type C (right), bought in Lhasa in 2008.

Dimensions:
Type B (left): diameter front: 4 cm.; side: 4,5 cm.
Type C (right): diameter front: 3,8 cm.; side: 4,7 cm.

Front view

Bottom view

'Forehead' view

Reported by Toos Suyker and Jan Verdiessen; the bells were donated to them by I. van der Meulen, who visited Lhasa in 2008.


Two alternative tiger bells, dimensions: 34 mm x 25 mm. No further information.

Compare these bells with the bells from Malaysia.

Photograph: courtesy 3Worlds


Fred Wilkinson of the Nonsuch Gallery in England reports:

I have a shaman's tiger bell chain necklace which you may be interested to see, purchased from a Katmandu antiques dealer in the late 1980s.

On the website we find the following photograph and description:

[The chain] was purchased from a Tibetan antiques dealer in Katmandu in the late 1980's. This shaman’s bell necklace measures approximately 100 cm (39 inches) end to end, and features 17 bells; 12 of which are wonderfully detailed bronze tiger bells and 4 small brass shrine bells plus a tiny bronze charm bell. The tiger bells on this chain have an average diameter of 4½ cm with a larger one in the middle. All the bells are strung out at intervals along a handmade iron chain that is attached at both ends to a handmade iron bow-shaped hand grip measuring 8 cm. An unusual tasseled leather, or snakeskin, amulet or pouch, decorated on one side with 4 cowrie shells, is attached to the iron hand grip
The chain is more or less similar to the chain from Nepal, except for the pendant which seems to be a metal hanger with a small piece of leather decorated with four cowry shells. The chain is used by shamans. The tiger bells are of the C type, that occurs mainly in the Himalaya area (see also: Bhutan, Tibet and Nepal). The other bells are conical clapper bells.



Tibetan market (source: unknown). The horses have harnesses
with probably type B tiger bells.


On E-bay, seller ArtisticJade from China offers this tiger bell. No details are given except that ArtisticJade has a stock of seven of these bells, and has sold already sold 30. The bell is described ais:

Folk Bronze Tiger face Bell Wish happiness & longevity Tibet
Three views of the same tiger bell; left: side A and right: side B.

Remarkable is the thick relief of the design on the surface of the tiger bell. The relatively large number of this type of tiger bells that is already sold and still available could indicate that these are new bells; however there is a patina on the surface that could indicate a certain age.

Seen on E-bay in July 2014

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