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Old and new variations

Alternative tiger bells

These bells are variations on the A type and B type tiger bells.

Alternative tiger bells have several of the characteristics of the normal tiger bells. The face is always clearly present. However some characteristics are deformed or not understood by the maker (such as the Chinese characters). The hoop may be round, instead of square. There may be whiskers instead of teeth, etc. These bells are sometimes local variations, made by local craftsmen, either because they liked the design and copied it from memory, or people had a need for bells of this type but were unable to find or acquire the original bells. In some cases these bells are mass produced in specialized workshops. These workshops can be in China (such as the Yiwu Ekia Pet Products factory) as well as in other countries and places. Alternative tiger bells can be old or new.

Of each case one picture is given on this page; more pictures (if available) are shown and discussed on the page of the relevant country.


The bell is of the A type but because of the whiskers the design looks more like a cat's head than a tiger (as with the bells from Syria). The bell was bought in a Chinese store in Amsterdam. See also: The West.


The nose and the whiskers make this bell an alternative. See also: China

Pictures: courtesy Sea Eagle Coins

China, Burma, Korea, United States of America

This alternative bell is reported in four countries:

China, from the Qing dynasty, 19th century.

Burma. Age unknown

Korea, age unknown.

United States of America
Newly made
This bell was bought in a curio shop in New York, USA
The design of these bells is so different from the classic tiger bells that it is just remotely inspired by the tiger's head or the tiger bell.


A remarkable alternative bell found in the earth near the city of Almaty shows design elements from the types A, B and C.

More objects were discovered, these could make it possible to make an estimate of the bell's age. This alternative bell is probably old.

A roughly made imitation of an A type bell. The Wang character is present but apparently was not recognized by the maker. See also: Nepal


Several newly made tiger bells, sold in a hardware store in Damascus. The 'nose' is very different. See also: Syria and Korea

Nepal, Thailand

Tiger bells type B, on a Nepalese shaman's chain

The relief seems engraved or chiseled in the surface of the mold.

Tiger bell, type B, from Chang Mai, Thailand

Thailand, Burma

Two alternative bells type B, from Thailand or Burma:


Sarawak, China (?), Tibet (?)

These new bells are made in large numbers. The shape of the eye is unusual and the relief seems to be engraved in the surface. The face has whiskers and the Wang-character is transformed into wrinkles on the forehead. The country of origin is uncertain.

Photographs: courtesy Borneo Artifacts

Photograph: courtesy Marco Hadjidakis who also contributed pictures
of bells from Mongolia and Burma. Country or region unknown.

Two new tiger bells, dimensions: 34 mm x 25 mm;
origin: Tibet. Photograph: courtesy 3World

China (?)

Country or region unknown.

Two tiger bells on a chain with a stylized lingam (fertility symbol). The nose of the bells is formed by two Chinese characters of which the meaning is still unclear. Dimensions of the bell unknown. Compare these bells with another example and with a bell from Thailand in Prof.Ovidiu Oana's collection.

Unknown, Sarawak

Above: Belly dancer bells, origin unknown
Right: Tiger bell as pendant, bell from Sarawak
The design is reduced to several crisscrossed lines with only the eyes recognizable.

A tiger bell, smaller type B. The eyes are there but all the rest is different. Instead of Chinese characters there seem to be western characters. See: Bangladesh

Group: Buryat

Part of a shaman's costume. The bell's design differs strongly from the classical tiger bell. Note the eyes directly on the mouth line.


Internetshop offers a strand of tiger bells. The size is 3,3 cm. and they are clearly brand new.

The position of the eyes and eyebrows (directly on the mouth line) is also seen on the bells tied to the Buryat ritual whip, mentioned above.
Report: December 2010

This is not a tiger bell but these bells occur
sometimes in combination with tiger bells

Photograph: courtesy 3Worlds

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