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Tiger bells in South Asia


Tiger bells are of the C-type and B-type, and a roughly made alternative.

Dimensions: wide 3,7 cm., high 3,5 cm., side 4 cm., hoop 0,8 cm. square
Several type C tiger bells, bought (1976), donated (1986, by a.o. Hugo de Groote) and seen (1990) by the author. This type of bell is very common in Nepal. Many are newly made. Local people told me that one factory, in Dehra Dunn, produces these bells for the Tibetan and Nepalese market. Also Rajpur was mentioned as a place where tiger bells of this type are produced. Both Dehra Dunn and Rajpur are in Uttar Pradesh (India).

Group: Unknown
The bell is an alternative, probably not very old.

A roughly made imitation of an A type bell. The 'Wang' character is present but apparently was not recognized by the maker. The shape is like a rough sphere, with a square hoop.
Bought in 1976, in a curio shop in Amsterdam.

Dimensions: wide 2,9 cm., high 3 cm., side 2,7 cm., hoop 0,8 cm. square.

New bells, sold as souvenirs

New bell, dimensions: wide 3,6 cm., high 3,3 cm., side 3,6 cm., hoop 0,8 cm. square

One tiger bell, probably type B, used by a medium from Tibet, now living in Kathmandu. The bell is attached to a chain worn across the chest, together with ordinary bells. Filmed during a demonstration of the medium in a film documentary on shamanism produced by Columbine film, Copenhagen (1986).

One chain with eight tiger bells type C and eight clapper bells, (acquired in 1990).

Dimensions type C bells (average):
wide 3,5 cm., high 2,9 cm., side 34,2 cm., hoop 0,8 cm. square

Several shaman's shoulder girdles and chains, with tiger bells, for sale in Kathmandu antique shops (1990).

Two tiger bells, of type B size but with a different design.

A shaman's chain or girdle with two large tiger bells and several ordinary bells.

The two tiger bells of the chain above.

Compare these bells with one of the bells from Chang Mai, Thailand.

Photographed in Kathmandu, 1990

For sale on Potala World's website: a shaman's chain, with 13 type C tiger bells.


Shaman's necklace of Tiger Bells, Nepal, 19th century. 37 " long (94 cm.). 16 bells. 13 in the shape of a stylized tiger head, hollow with a round stone inside to produce the sound. Worn Chinese characters appear on the top of the bell. Single bells are used as amulets from Siberia and Mongolia, through Tibet, Nepal and India; it is unusual to find so many of this quality on one chain. $ 350,-

Photographs: courtesy Potala World

Reported end of 2010.

Dorothy Leofsky sent us several pictures of a chain with tiger bells. Unfortunately she has no further details.

The chain consists of a number of key ring-like links with ten tiger bells.

The tiger bells are of a variation of the A type that I have not seen before in Nepal.
Photographs: courtesy Dorothy Leofsky

The chain is most likely a shaman's breast chain, from Nepal or, considering that the tiger bells are not typically Nepalese, Tibet. Compare this bell with the tiger bells seen in Singapore.

Reported by Dorothy Leofsky, February 2011

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