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Tiger bells in Northeast Asia


Inner Mongolia (China)

Tiger bells are of the A type, and some of alternative variations.


Group: Solon
More than 60 type A tiger bells in different sizes, on a shaman costume; 25 tiger bells on the collar, 36 on the caftan, one or two on the stick. The costume also includes a bronze-cast mask. Masks such as this one are said to date from the Iron age (1200 BC) and are regularly found in the Siberian ground.

The costume was given to explorer H. Haslund Kristensen at the beginning of the 20th century by the dying shaman Delger Bugu who had inherited the costume from his father, a Buryat from Zabaikal district. More details on this costume on page Bells, mirrors, masks and other ornaments.




Detail of the costume above
Illustrations from the book Three Mongolian Costumes,
courtesy Danish National Museum, Copenhagen


Group: Chahar, Barga
One, probably three type A tiger bells, on a shaman costume (drawing is not very clear).
Collection: Danish National Museum, Copenhagen

lllustration from Three Mongolian Costumes,
courtesy Danish National Museum, Copenhagen

Both costumes were collected in 1938.

Group: Unknown
Several tiger bells, both type A and B, on shaman's headdress. On the front: 1 type A tiger bell and possibly 2 smaller type A bells, on the back, 2 tiger bells type B.

One large tiger bell, behind an ordinary crotal bell, in the background on the left, out of focus, one or two smaller tiger bells, on a shaman's costume in the Regional Museum, Tungliau.
S
till frame taken from the documentary Trommels van onthechting (Drums of detachment) courtesy: Columbine films, Copenhagen and the Danish National Museum, Copenhagen

Group: Unknown, possibly Ewenk
July 2017; in the Military Museum, Soesterberg (Neth.): A shaman's costume of unknown origin; in the exhibition Djenghis Khan and his descendants. The costume is described as...

...a shaman costume decorated with ribbons, mirrors, bells, arrows and animal bones, from the Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911).

...The gown is covered with ribbons which represent feathers, indicating that the shaman could transform into bird. Bronze mirrors were attached to scare away bad spirits. This costume would have been presented in its entirety when the shaman was conducting a ceremony, creating an imposing spectacle.


The costume differs from the costume of the Solon (see above).


Three tiger bells are attached to a ritual whip.


The bronze mask is much older than the
other metal objects.

About 75 type A tiger bells in different sizes are attached to the costume; about 50 at the front, 25 at the back. one tiger bell is attached in the drum and three on the ritual whip.The costume also includes a bronze-cast mask. On the head dress a pair of small antlers is attached. This indicates that this possibly is a mixed costume, both 'deer' and 'duck'.

The costume is part of the collection of the National Museum of Inner Mongolia in Hohhot, its capital. Photographed in 2017 in the Military Museum, Soesterberg.


In the television program Vrije geluiden (Free sounds), a weekly program about all aspects of music, broadcast in November 2010 by the Dutch broadcasting organization VPRO, there was a performance by Hanggai, a group from Peking. The musicians have their roots in Inner Mongolia and play music in fusion style, based on traditional music from Mongolia and contemporary pop music. The drum set featured, together with the usual contemporary cymbals and drums, a bundle of metal bells. In a close up of the bundle clearly the face-like motif of the tiger bells can be seen.

One of the two bundles of tiger bells
Photograph (screenshot): courtesy VPRO Vrije Geluiden

Webaddress http://beta.uitzendinggemist.nl/afleveringen/1003725 shows the complete broadcast; Hanggai starts at about 34 minutes; close up on the bigger bundle a.o. on 46 min. 40 sec.

Drummer Li Dan behind his drum set. He has two bundles of bells on his drumset. Both bundles have several tiger bells, of different types.
All bells, including the tiger bells are newly made.
Photograph: courtesy Hans Verzendaal

During a performance in Groningen in december 2010 the group allowed long-time friend Hans Verzendaal to make some pictures of the tiger bells and to ask some questions. Band leader Ilchi explained how the bells came into the instrumentation of the group. Read his statement and see detailed pictures of the tiger bells.

Hans Verzendaal also made several videoclips of the performance of Hanggai. You can find these at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=on_XsEbuPgM&feature=related


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or continue to the page on Hanggai, or to the next report

All text and photographs are copyrighted,
for information please contact F. de Jager


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