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Tiger bells in Southeast Asia


Vietnam

Tiger bells are of the A type, B type and the D type.


Group: Fou


Seven tiger bells type D, in a bundle. Description on the catalogue card:

"Neck bells (Kai-nja-bang-tong) for horses, made of yellow brass with an unclear ornament (a stylized head?)... Used by the Fou (tribe) in the hinterlands of Tongkin."
Leyden Ethnological Museum, collected in 1901.

In March 2010 Tom Ulbrich and Bui Kim Dinh from Vietnam reported a tiger bell from Northern Vietnam. The bell's age was estimated at about 1000 years by an antique dealer and expert. Due to a technical problem the message reached us many months later. Unfortunately contact with Mr. Ulbrich and Mr. Dinh could not be re-established.

Group: unknown

On E-bay, a tiger bell type A is offered for sale by Ethnix Tribal and African Arts . No details are given except its age: supposedly about 100 years. The price is US $ 45,-.
January 2010 the bell was removed from the site.

Four views:

The bell is described as follows:

Precious Antique VIETNAMESE TIGER BELL Vietnam
Type of Object: PELLET BELL
Ethnic Group: VIETNAMESE / CHINESE
Country of Origin: VIETNAM
Materials: BRONZE
Approximate Age: 100+ years
Dimensions: 1.5" x 1.75" x 1.25"
Weight: 2.5 ounces
Overall Condition: Used, EXCELLENT

Additional Information:
These Tiger bells have had a history of a wide range of use and distribution. This globular shaped bell has a pellet inside and produces a sound when shaken. The bell has a stylized tiger’s head on the surface and on the top half there is usually one or two Chinese characters and some curved lines and floral motifs. Bells with this design are found throughout Asia from Indonesia and Pakistan to Siberia, where they are used as an amulets by Shamans. The function of these bells ranges from being worn as necklaces to being sewn onto dance costumes. I was lucky to find this one in an antique shop in Vietnam

Group: Hmong

In an advertisement on E-bay two tiger bells type B are offered. They are described as follows:

Pair of bronze ("Tiger') bells, used by Hmong shamans

They were collected in Mai Chau, in Northern Vietnam, in the mid 20th century. The height is 6 cm., the weight 178 grams. No further details are given.

Reported by Harald Lux, in December 2011

Group: Yao Mien (Kiem Mien)

In the Musée d'Avallonois, Avallon (France), an important collection of Yao textiles, tools and religious objects is exhibited. Among the objects are a belt with bells which is part of a horse harness, and a box with objects needed for the performance of certain rituals, among them a bronze bell.


Seven of the bells are tiger bells

Of the bells seen from the left to the right (counterclockwise) the first two bells are not clearly visible; the bells 3 and 4 are tiger bells; 5, 6 and 7 are of a different type; 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 are tiger bells; the upper two on the right (13 and 14) are of a different type. All bells have a very dark patina and the light in the room was poor. Despite the use of a flash, it was necessary to lighten up the picture and heighten the contrast in order to make some details of the design visible.


A box with ritual objects

Among the objects is one tiger bell of the smaller type B. The size is appr. the same as the tiger bell from the Akha, Thailand. The function of the bell is described as follows:

Clochette, bronze. Servant au prêtre à rythmer une cérémonie lors des danses ou certains passages de rituels.
Kim Meun (Quang Trang en Viet), Qua Pae Meun, 1950

Musée d'Avallonois, Avalon, August 2012


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