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    • #10809
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Garry has made this comment regarding this handbell:

      It’s unusual in that the bell portion is completely decorated inside and out. The handle appears to be a rolled brass tube, so it’s a bit flimsy for regular use. I suspect it is only decorative.

      The rummage sale person said it was brought from the ‘old world’ by her grandmother. I’d like to get some history on it. Where is it from? How used? that kind of thing.

      Rather unique, I believe to be from the ukraine area. It’s a hand bell (paperback beside for scale) Very Thoroughly Decorated on the Bell, both inside and out. I believe it is molded that way.

      Would like to get some of the history of this type of bell. Where made, used …etc.

      He would like to know more about this bell.

      If you can help, please post a response. If you need help posting, please contact me at coordinator@americanbell.org. Please be sure to reference this post as from “Garry – Handbell” if you are going to send information to me. Thanks

      Admin

      This inquiry was originally sent to the ABA’s Internet Coordinator. Responses are opinions of individuals based on their personal research and knowledge.

    • #13608
      hjlong
      Member

      There appear to be letters in the circles around the crown of the bell. Can you make out what they are and what they spell? This may guide you to it’s origin or use. It is certainly unusal in design and a beauty.
      Harry Long, MD

    • #13609
      Garry
      Participant

      I will certainly look and get back to you here!

    • #13610
      Garry
      Participant

      Here is what I can make out of the symbols on top.
      They appear to be repeated inside the top of the bell too.
      Diagram included, but my description:

      Fat colon on side with dot above tail
      star with box containing two lines, One long one short, horizontally inside.
      At a guess, it’s a stylized bird in flight
      Wavy triangular shape with dot in middle
      Upside down lower case G with the top fatter than the tail
      Stylized P
      Next two look like a stylized Peeled Corn Husk One with dot in middle.

      (the our children one refers to the other bell, not this one)

    • #13611
      Rita Walker
      Member

      I can’t tell you why, but the minute I viewed that bell I got the feeling it’s of Oriental origin. I have a dorje/lamasery bell from China that has raised designs inside and out, as you described yours.

    • #13612
      Garry
      Participant

      Thanks Rita, You have given me another area to research. I’m not sure about the china part, I would have thought they would inscribe it with some Chinese letters, but the Tibet part might fit!

      I’ll start researching that way. Hadn’t gone there before because the original owner was from the Ukraine area and it was thought to have come from there.

      Garry

    • #13613
      Garry
      Participant

      Humm,

      While the bells I found are similar in the bell itself, I did notice: NONE of them had a solid hand grip. All were very ornate handles with OPEN “cage work” type construction. None had symbols on the top of the bell, but rather decorative linear type designs to flow down the bell.

      Still looking…
      Garry

    • #13614
      Rita Walker
      Member

      Hi again, In response to your questioning the fact that the Chinese would more likely use Chinese lettering in those frames atop your bell….please keep in mind that symbols are equally important to them. If you can locate info about Chinese symbols you might find something helpful there. Good luck!

    • #13615
      Garry
      Participant

      Thanks Rita,

      I appreciate greatly your patience with me! I am looking around as much as I can, and will let you know if/what I find!

      Garry

    • #13616
      Carolyn Whitlock
      Participant

      Garry,

      I agree with Rita that this looks like an Oriental bell. The shape of the bell (sans handle) is the same as the well-known Tibetan bell. If you look at the design around the top and at the bottom of the Tibetan bell, you’ll see some similarities. My guess (and it’s only that) is that this is a modern interpretation (a wannabe) of a Tibetan type of bell.

    • #13617
      Garry
      Participant

      Yes, that was what I had noticed too, with the exception of the handle.

      The trouble is how we interpret the concept of Modern. The Lady who sold it to me was in her late 50’s and she reported that her mother owned it for as long as she can remember. Her mother said that she forgets where she got it, but she was living in the Ukraine area and she was pretty young at the time. I’d take that to make the bell approximately 50 years + old. Probably modern as far as bells go, maybe.

      I also notice that a number of the orthodox religions of that area used very decorative hand bells, some with somewhat similar bell designs, but all that I have found have wooden handles and none describe any internal decorations.

      As you mention I found that the Tibetan designs are also similar but all I have found have open pierced type handles and again no descriptions of internal decorations. The handle does NOT look like it was replaced.

      I would have thought the internal decor would be a give away – but apparently not.

      I was doing quite a bit of internet research last night on the symbols / icons on the top. The consensus seems to be that the Chinese, while having some ‘icons’ in their culture, base the designs primarily on the written characters. The other designs are mainly around the zodiac and don’t match what is depicted on the bell.

      This is apparently a common trait – those cultures who started with picture drawings for concepts, developed pictograms and picture icons with meaning. Those that developed from a character / written based starting point simply embellished the character fonts as symbols they use, and don’t have a lot of picture type icons.

      The exceptions are primarily related around religious icons (the cross for Christian for example) and common features in the environment (Stars are universal apparently).

      I don’t think I’ll be able to determine the bell origin by the linear designs on it, it appears to be a fairly common pattern from India, China, Tibet, Russia, etc. So I am pretty much down to trying to find the symbols somewhere, and a similar internal decorative bell design.

      I am wondering about an India knock off design though. It strikes me as something they would do.

      Garry

    • #13618
      Rita Walker
      Member

      Hi again Garry, I just wrote you a long message, and somehow I must have deleted it. (X/c-x|o). Have you ever done that? Well anyway I’ll try to trace my previous message.
      I checked out my own old bell, and I find the following noted in my record of it: “Drilbu or Lamasery Bell of Cast Bronze, with the Face of Sherchin, (who represents feminine divinity and wisdom). Tibetan Ritual Bell, (Lamaism-Northern Buddhism). Eight Mystic Symbols circle the crown of the Bell in delicate beaded relief. Deep inside the crown are Five Identical raised designs, along with one Oriental inscription.”
      We purchased it in 1973 from a very reputable antique dealer on Newbury St. (Street of Antiques), in Boston, MA.
      The lack of detail around the skirt of your bell, and the plain handle indicate to me that it is not Tibetan. In addition, it is my belief that true Lamasery bells have the likeness of Sherchin on their handles, and the finials consist of open prongs.
      I feel your bell is contemporary and was probably made in India. They are heavily into brass bells, and create and copy them as well.
      Now I must be careful I don’t hit the wrong button and send this one into the atmosphere like the last.

    • #13619
      Carolyn Whitlock
      Participant

      Don’t give up yet, Garry! We’ve still got plenty of ABA members who haven’t entered the conversation yet! Every Saturday night, Admin (that’s me) sends out a list of new postings for the week to our online ABA members who wish to receive them. That’s just another benefit of belonging to ABA! I’m sure there will be people out there who have opinions to offer. Bell collectors have a wealth of information based on research and travel experiences and they are willing to share it! 😀

      You seem very knowledgeable about bells, Garry. One of the best things about ABA is that we learn from each other!
      https://www.americanbell.org/join.htm 😆

    • #13620
      Garry
      Participant

      Thanks for the kind words. I wish I could claim to be knowledgeable on bells, but I am very new to the field and trying to learn!

      I don’t plan to give up, I’m kinda like a mutt with a bone – I’ll worry it for a while then let it rest for a bit before going at it again.

      A couple other interesting points on it though. It’s interesting on how the inside of the bell is decorated more than the outside. It was noted that the skirt was rather barren of decoration, which it is on the outside. Inside it’s fully decorated though. Would that not mean that it was meant to be played pointing it to the audience? some sort of Ceremonial piece? (otherwise why do the inside so much?) I wonder if it was to be a religious bell rung towards the congregation? It would not last for long playing periods (the clapper would beat up the decor) so I suspect it is not for musical presentations.

      I also note that the inside texture is a bit rougher. Perhaps a sand mold was used to make it?

      My eyes are going buggy trying to match up the symbols. I am beginning to wonder if they are perhaps made up and this is indeed a ‘knock off’ type bell.

      Anyway, I’ll keep plugging away at it – thanks for the encouragement.

      Garry

    • #13621
      hjlong
      Member

      Does anyone think that the eight symbols in the circles could represent the “eight Immortals” of Daoist Mythology? That could make this bell Chinese. I do not know whether there are symbols for each of the immortals, but it seems interesting that there are eight circles around the crown of the bell each with a separate symbol inside. Could this be a Daoist Shaman’s Bell?
      Harry Long, MD

    • #13622
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Al Loeffler chimes in:

      The bottom part is a uniquely stylized version of a classic Tibetan ritual bell. Look at a picture of a Tibetan ritual bell in any of the bell reference books and the similarity will leap off the page.

      The handle of an authentic ritual bell would always be of a “vajra” design, which this is not. But the handle does appear to be nicely made and is probably of sturdy construction.

      For the hundreds of years before China took Tibet in 1959, Tibetan ritual bells were strictly crafted according to traditional models of religious iconography. After the ’50s, those traditions eroded and new generations of craftsmen produced stylized products for the souvenir market. This bell, showing no signs of wear or age, is probably such a bell.

      —AL LOEFFLER

    • #13623
      Garry
      Participant

      Hi Al!

      What you say is true. And I do appreciate the comments. But a couple other points kind of leap off at me (besides the handle I mean). It leaves me with some questions.

      1. I have one of these tourist forms of the tibetian bell you mention. It, and all the others I have seen, including the one kindly posted earlier here, all show a swag type design. The design on my bell is all hanging in lines and are not swagged.

      2. All the bells I have seen to date, including the one you mention, either have NO decorations inside, or very minimal designs at the inside top. That makes sense for a bell to be played, as well as for the cost of production. It would cost more to decorate the inside where; a) it would be damaged by the clapper and b) nobody would really see it anyway.

      What is interesting about my bell, is that it is built pretty much inside out. The outside of the bell has minimal decoration where the clapper would strike, where as the inside has lots. This suggests a different function than a tourist piece as it is difficult to display the inside of the bell and the outside, as mentioned by an earlier comment, is pretty plain in comparison. I am thinking it is a non-playing piece, but perhaps more designed around a copy of a real bell for a religious type function that would be given to parishioners as a memento or home worship piece.

      I am probably wrong, but I haven’t seen any other bell of similar inside design complexity.

      Thanks
      Garry

    • #13624
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Max adds this suggestion:

      When in doubt MEASURE. Yes, get a pair of dividers and a very good ruler with the finest divisions you can get, these two items will cost about $20.00. Measure the length and width of each item in detail. The outside and inside of the circles, everything on the bell, also measure from the rim to the shoulder of the out side of the bell. Group all the different designs and compare the measurement. Then we can discuss if it was hand made or factory for the tourist trade. Take your time and document well, this job can be fun.
      Max Kurillo

      Garry, it looks like you’ve got a great opportunity here! If you’re wondering about Max’s credentials, go to http://www.dogpile.com, a search engine that searches several other search engines, and put in Max’s name.

      Carolyn

    • #13625
      Garry
      Participant

      Thanks Max,

      I’ll do this, but please be patient! There is a lot of decoration to measure, particularly on the inside. I notice that the inside does not appear to be posted here yet. I’ll also try and photograph that for you too.

      Garry

    • #13607
      Garry
      Participant

      Wow. Learning lots here!
      I got suspicious of some discoloration on the bell while examining it closely. Guess what? It holds a magnet! So I have a brass plated IRON bell (handle appears to be brass though).
      Doing the measurements I find that, while the ovals around the characters are not uniform (i.e. distorted) they all appear to be 7mm wide on the inside horizontal and 8mm on the inside vertical. The outside appears to be a uniform 12 mm on the horizontal and 11 mm on the vertical. The swags all appear slightly off center and 17mm high. The left swags are 6mm to the inside width and 10 mm to the outside, while the right swags are 8 mm and 10 mm respectively. The teardrop shapes that go between the handle and the swags are between 4 & 5 mm wide and 8 and 9 mm tall. The handle at the base is 14mm wide, from handle to hip is 30 mm, and from hip to lip of bell is 55mm.

      I have included some inside decoration shots and one of the outside closeup of a symbol. The inside decore looks recessed in the images but that’s an optical illusion, they protrude.

      I suspect now that this is indeed a tourist piece as iron is usually made for the mass market -(I think)- Yes? No?

      I’m learning lots with all your help! Thanks!

    • #13626
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Al has added to this conversation:

      The bottom part is a uniquely stylized version of a classic Tibetan ritual bell. Look at a picture of a Tibetan ritual bell in any of the bell reference books and the similarity will leap off the page.

      The handle of an authentic ritual bell would always be of a “vajra” design, which this is not. But the handle does appear to be nicely made and is probably of sturdy construction.

      For the hundreds of years before China took Tibet in 1959, Tibetan ritual bells were strictly crafted according to traditional models of religious iconography. After the ’50s, those traditions eroded and new generations of craftsmen produced stylized products for the souvenir market. This bell, showing no signs of wear or age, is probably such a bell.

      —AL LOEFFLER

    • #13627
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Max responds:

      Hi gmiddleton,

      Great work. The magnet did the trick, your assumption is correct. The designs are repeats over and over. The designs were pressed into the metal by force, no one could impress the inside of this small bell by hand, there is no room to move. Measure the thickness of the bell at several spots around the edge and as far up from the lip as you can manage to reach, avoid touching the designs, (this might take an outside divider {another type of measuring hand held measuring device}). If the thickness measurements are very close then you can bet that it was pressed or spun from a sheet of ferrous metal, formed and than electroplated. I agree with you that this was made for the tourist trade. Where ever this bell was made they turn them out fast and cheap. Don’t feel bad about buying this bell, hundreds of people truly believe all kinds of stories and spend good money on ……… This is a sheet metal bell, there are different methods of identification to use on a cast bell. How bells are formed is another subject, maybe it should be discussed on “ bell talk“. What do you think Carolyn?

      Max

    • #13628
      Carolyn Whitlock
      Participant

      Max,

      I think it’s a great idea for a new thread. It’s an area that I know very little about. I’m sure I’m not the only one!

      If you have any articles you would be willing to have put in the ABA Library I’d be thrilled to add them! Also, if you have something to use to begin a thread, please send it along!

      Thanks for all your help regarding this bell. Let’s hope Garry Middleton joins ABA if he doesn’t already belong!

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