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Tiger bells in Central and Northern Asia

China Inner Mongolia Outer Mongolia Siberia

Click on one of the country names


Tiger bells are of the A type.

Group: Unknown, probably common locally
Four tiger bells, on a brightly colored woven belt. Bells and belt look recently made. No further details available.
In the Leyden Ethnological Museum, procured in 1976.

One tiger bell, roughly made. In an antique shop in Nanking. According to the shop owner the bell dates from the Kuang Hsu dynasty (1875-1908). There were more examples but no further information.
Author's collection (donated in 1986 by Annemiek Broersma).

One tiger bell, seen in the Regional Museum 'House of Kanton' in Kanton, on a jacket, similar to the bell from the antique shop. No details were available.
Reported in 1986 by Annemiek Broersma.

Four tiger bells, type A, in a bundle. Collected by a missionary of the SVD mission, place and time uncertain but probably Ch'ing tao (South Shantung) at the end of the 19th century. The bells have a width of 2.7 cm. and a height of 2.1 cm. No further information available.
In the Mission museum, Steyl, (Limburg, the Netherlands)
Jane Po, Berkeley bought one type A tiger bell in Hongkong and reports (January '96):
...I bought [the bell] from an old curio shop on the Guangdong border, thinking that it looked like some ancient Pacman. It's about 3 1/2" around. It's attached to an old handbeaten heavy double-link bronze chain. The chain doesn't look like it's of Chinese origin, though. No further information was available.

Inner Mongolia

Tiger bells are of the A type and the larger type B.

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 or 3 smaller type A bells, on the back 2 tiger bells type B.

Collection: People's Museum in Tungliau, demonstrated in a documentary film on shamanism produced by Columbine film, Copenhagen (1986).

Outer Mongolia

Tiger bells are of the A type, in sizes varying from about 2 to 4 cm, and the larger type B.

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.
Collection: Danish National Museum, Copenhagen.

Illustration courtesy Danish National Museum, Copenhagen

Group: Chahar, Barga
One, probably three type A tiger bells, on a shaman costume.
Collection: Danish National Museum, Copenhagen

Both costumes were collected in 1938.

Group: unknown
One larger type A tiger bell, used as an amulet. Illustration in the Grove's Dictionnary of Music, an article on various types of bells by the late Mr. Percival Price.

Group: unknown, probably common
One large type B tiger bell. No further details available but probably from a horse belt (similar to those from Tibet).


All bells are of the A type, in sizes varying from about 2 to 4 cm.

East Siberia, Stanovoi Mountains
Group: Ewenk (or Tungus)
Four larger tiger bells, on a shaman costume.
Collection Musee de l'Homme, Paris (France).

Group: Nanaj (Amur river)
Sixteen tiger bells on a shamanistic tree; a drawing made by a shaman, in a publication on material culture of Siberian groups. Description:
"...such objects as copper toli (mirrors) and bells are surely from Nanaj. They came into the area from North East China..."

"...the original shape of the bells [on the drawing of the shaman] is interesting, the division with a vertical line, surrounded by arcs, are no coincidence and not made up by the shaman. They represent in a simple way the bells from Mantsjoeria and China. On these bells we find representations of eyes, nose and a big mouth, composed of two combined halves of one bell..."

"...Copper bells of this type decorated the headdresses of the shamans of Mantsjoeria..."

One of these bells is in the collection of the Amur museum.

Group: unknown
In 'Bilder der Volker' volume 9: several bells, some of them possibly of the A type on a costume of a female shaman. On her back possibly a bossed gong (pictures are not very clear)

Brochure of the Vienna Ethnological Museum, Austria: a photograph of two shamans with costumes more or less similar to the Solon costume from Outer Mongolia (with more than 60 tiger bells).

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