bells in South East Asia
tiger bells are of the A type, in
sizes varying from about 1,5 to 4 cm. Tiger bells are used by ethnic
groups in parts of Palawan, Mindoro and Mindanao. There are no reports
bells, the large one well preserved, the small one on a necklace
of small brass chains. Bought in Davao in 1974.
Dimensions: wide 3,7 cm.,
high 3,3 cm., side 3,2 cm., hoop 1 cm. rectangular
Dimensions: 2,6 cm., high
2,3 cm., side 1,4 cm., hoop 0,5 cm trapezium shaped
Several tiger bells together with ordinary bells on a girdle used
for dances accompanied by a log drum, similar to the B'laan dance
Photographed in 1974.
Nine tiger bells together
with five ordinary bells, on a dance girdle (see Tagakaolu, the B'laan's
neighbors). When asked about the age of the bells the reaction was
'more than fifty years! which was probably more an indication
of an extremely long time than a realistic estimate.
the nine bells, on a dance girdle, B'laan
performers, photographed in 1975
bell together with many ordinary bells, on a girdle. Photographed
in 1974 by the late Cor van Haasteren.
Two tiger bells,
well worn, on a girdle of a Mansaka woman, Photographed in
of the two tiger bells, well worn but the eyes are distinguishable
small tiger bells, on a pubic shield, worn by small
girls. Illustration in 'Wild tribes of Davao district'
by Fay Cooper Cole (fig. 7, page 61, published in
1913, the Chicago Field Museum of Natural History).
copied by the author from the original drawing in the
publication Wild tribes of Davao District (see
tiger bells, on a hemp belt together with one large
Field Museum, Chicago.
tiger bells, in a bundle that was tied to a woman's
belt. In Power and gold, picture 249, published
by Prestel Verlag, Switzerland, 1985.
ornament, in the collection of the
Barbier-Mueller Museum, Geneva
one with tiger bells of various sizes, and one with
one small tiger bell. On display in a Mandaya handicraft
shop in Manila, in 1987
One small tiger bell, in the National Museum in Manila.
No further data.
the book 'Album of Filipino types Volume III'
(no year of publication but probably beginning
of the century).
Manguianes from Mindoro. Front view of a
woman(...) Attached to the rosary a small globular
bell, such as are worn on swords
and elsewhere near the Sea of Celebes.
from the book Album of Filipino types Volume
III, no further details.
ethnomusicologist in Berlin reports:
visited the Bukidnon groups and the Tigwa Manobo. I
hardly saw any bells there at all, all of the ordinary
small kind. I was also able to purchase some bells in
antique shops but they don't seem to be tiger bells.
But what might be most interesting for you are two bells
from the Mangyan of Mindoro which were given to me as
a gift by my late brother-in-law, Pepito Bosch in Manila.
They were given to him by a French woman-anthropologist
who is married to a Mangyan.
These two bells are indeed tiger bells. They have virtually
the same proportions and design like the bell on your
homepage below the heading "Have you seen this bell?"
which, as I understood, comes from SE-Mindanao. They
have two different sizes: the bigger one 43 mm, the
smaller one 35 mm at the widest points (approximately
from one end of the slit to the other). On the bigger
one, the design can be seen very well, on the smaller
one, the design is rubbed off on most of the surface,
and there is only a plain shiny surface left; but still,
the eyes and mouth of the tiger as well as parts of
the surrounding design can be seen very well. At first
sight, I realized already that these two bells must
be of considerable age, and I also thought immediately
that they might be of Chinese origin.
Reported in January 1997
later, in March 2013, I received an e-mail from Ms
Elisabeth Luquin, the anthropologist mentioned by
Mr. Brandeis in the above report (see below).
March 2013 Ms Elisabeth Luquin, anthropologist and senior lecturer
in Paris, France, sends me the following mail:
The Mangyan Patag
(south east of Mindoro, Philippines) - also known as Hanunoo-Mangyan
- had "tiger-bells" (called gurung-gurung in minangyan
language). Today if they still have some, they are carefully hidden.
They were used to inform of one's presence and to drive away malevolent
spirits (like for the Chinese).
In the 90's I was able to see 3 type A specimens like the ones on
Hans' (Brandeis; see report above)
pictures. And I was able to get a different one which is rounder
with the eyes much more protuberant and which may belong to the
I received several photographs
of the C type tiger bell:
The bell is indeed a tiger
bell of the C type. As far as I know these bells are only used in
Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan. I have not seen this type of bells in other
places in Asia. It is possible that the bell has been brought to Mindoro
by a tourist or a visitor. Ms Luquin however states:
not think that a tourist or a visitor brought the bell there but rather
merchants (or tradesmen) did in the past.
That is of course also
very well possible. Anyway, the presence of the type C tiger bell
is most likely not in the local tradition.
Reported in March 2013
by Ms Elisabeth Luquin.
Mindanao and Sulu Muslim groups
bells on a kampilan (sword). Photograph in 'Schwerter
von Celebes' by Foy, published in 1899. Of the larger bell of
the two both sides are shown.
(or Ilanun), live in the western part of Mindanao and were seafaring
Collection Ethnographic Museum, Dresden
by Mr. Jeno Takacs on Philippine musical instruments in
Piand (local name): bell imported from China, feast and war
instrument; also used as money (probably by the Moros of the South)'.
No picture so this reference is uncertain.
On the site http://www.swordsantiqueweapons.com/s152_full.html
Gavin Nugent from Brisbane, (Australia) gives a description
of a kampilan (sword) from the Muslim part of Mindanao, given
to or taken by US general J.J. Pershing in 1901u. The description:
example of a massive Moro Kampilan of high status, attributed to the
late US general of Armies, J.J.Pershing.
Measured out of the finely carved scabbard this piece is 116 cm. long
with a very nicely laminated and inlayed blade of 87 cm. blade. This
overall length places this piece at approx. 20 cm longer than the
typical known Kampilan.
The massive and superbly carved hilt and guard remain in outstanding
condition, workmanship that can be most appreciated in the viewing
of the images rather than written descriptions.
Two most uncommon aspects seen on the hilt area is that of the double
iron guard where a single guard is normally seen and also that of
2 Tiger Bells type A and 2 Tiger Bells type unknown hanging from the
The two bells identified
as 'tiger bells type A' are indeed tiger bells type A, the other two
are not tiger bells.
The wooden handle with
okiran style carvings, typical for wood carvings
by ethnic Muslim groups in the south of the Philippines
One tiger bell and one
bell with other decorations
One of the tiger bells
(right) and a common bell
The other tiger bell
(left), and a common bell
in total view
that came with the kampilan, stating that
the weapon was taken by Captain Pershing
in the year 1901
Dumanhug from Samal Island reports:
I have got same bells from our ancestors...they are the warriors
and medicine man...am wondering where it comes from......am
in the philippines...samal island sama tribe..
lies in the Davao Gulf, in South East Mindanao.
We are waiting for more information.
in April 2012
all ethnic groups in the Philippines have tiger bells. No tiger bells
are reported among the ethnic groups in North Luzon. In Mindanao no
tiger bells are present among the Subanon, Tiruray, Tagabili (T'boli)
and their neighhbouring B'laan; and some Manobo groups. Among the Muslim
groups they are rare.
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