Re: Re: Researching Indian Elephant Bells
Harry is usually (ok always) spot on with his knowledge, so you have some great info here!
Here is an article on the India casting process I posted earlier:
I also own one that I am researching. What I have been able to find so far is a bit light, but quite interesting.
They seem to come in three styles:
1. Totally utilitarian – no markings
2. Fancy utilitarian – inscribed type markings, usually swirls. The type of markings tend to be indicative of specific areas of India – but I haven’t come across a definitive “pattern = this area” listing.
3. Fancy Decorative – Usually with colored enameling – for royalty, hand bells, and parades etc. Typically are newer bells.
They are all cast, and have evolved over time. The earliest [of the caged style – see further down about the earlier jingle bell ones] has relatively thin rounded needle like tines, quite wide apart (probably didn’t break off as often as you bent them after inserting the metal ball). As you move up through time, they came closer together (probably as the process of casting improved) and Flatter (likely to produce a better tone and easier bending). The newest ones now only seem to have an open bottom (think of your bell with the tines cut off 1/3 of the way down all around and flattened to more of a skirt type look). The freely mobile ball inside is now a clapper attached like other bells.
The flattened end fits through the leather harness like a button on your shirt.
The highly decorative ones are also used as hand bells in shops etc.
As you move closer to the Burma area the bells change – particularly the older ones. These older ones especially have circular loops rather than the flat button hole tops. The really old ones are also solid “jingle bell ” type with a single horizontal slot on the bottom.
My study of Sarna bells indicates that the markings you describe are likely a model number he assigned them (you don’t indicate if the numbers are raised, incised or if they are etched into the bells, or if they are on the inside or outside). I’ll take a guess, that you found them partially hidden on the tines and that they were etched into the metal after casting. When Mr. Sarna brought the bells in, the clients wanted names etc. for them. Apparently that typically was not done in India – there they just identified it by the function it held (i.e. a bell for the beggar was a particular style and a bell for the door another and the bell for a certain ceremony yet another shape). So Sarna actually ‘invented’ names for them to meet his customer’s needs. I suspect that the 682m is a model number he came up with, and the JHS/JNS was probably his supplier. But this is a flat out guess.
It is not likely that you will be able to chase down the numbers, unless you were to come across some of his original paperwork.
Anyway, I hope this helps somewhat!