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Tiger bells in the Philippines


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

Group: Mangyan
In the book 'Album of Filipino types Volume III' (no year of publication but probably beginning of the century. Caption:
'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'

Illustration: from the book, no further details

Hans Brandeis, ethnomusicologist in Berlin reports:
...I 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 tigerbells. 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
Group: Tagakaolu
Several tiger bells together with ordinary bells on a girdle used for dances accompanied by a logdrum. Photographed in 1974.

Group: B'laan
Nine tiger bells together with five ordinary bells, on a dance girdle (see Tagakaolu, the B'laan's neighbours). 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. Photographed in 1974.

Group: Mansaka
Two, probably three tiger bells together with many ordinary bells, on a girdle. Photographed in 1974 by the author and Cor van Haasteren.

Group: Mandaya
Two belts, 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.

Group: Bagobo
Two small tiger bells, on a pubic shield. Illustration in 'Wild tribes of Davao district' by Fay Cooper Cole (fig. 7, page 61, published in 1913, the Chicago Field Museum).

Two tiger bells, on a hemp belt together with one large ordinary bell. Collection: Field Museum, Chicago.

Two tiger bells, the larger one well preserved, the smaller one on a necklace of small brass chains. Author's collection, bought in Davao in 1974.

Group: unknown
One small tiger bell, in the National Museum in Manila. No further data.

Sulu or Muslim Mindanao
Group: Moros
A report by Mr. Jeno Takacs on Philippine musical instruments in 1932-34:
'Pum 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.

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