the Pipe and Tabor compendium

the Pipe and Tabor compendium

essays on the three-hole pipe

Europe history: street entertainers

dancing bear

…As tutored bears are led from place to place,
Displaying biped gait and burlesque grace,
Their action clumsy and their shape uncouth,
…As dancing dogs make oafs and children swarm,
Dress, mien, demeanour all in human form —
As monkeys, reared erect on paws or breech,
Well mimic man in all but laugh and speech —
Or as from street to street queer camel's shown,
From other beasts by pipe and tabor known,…

The Tribulations of an Uneducated Poet in the 1760s’ by James Woodhouse
13th century France13th century France
12801280 - 1290 France
1338-1344 Flanders, Belgium f 117v

1555 Mary Evans Picture Library Lithuania

1555close-up page 63

15571557 Sweden
17th century17th century at a fair, France

1620 poem 'The Night-Raven'

Terrible news  for Taber and Pipe,

“AN odd companion, walking up and downe,
To pipe a living out from towne to towne:
Being at a Wedding busie at his play,
Forgetting danger of his tedious way.
Belated was, yet be it ill or good,
He did resolve to wander through a wood.
And as he went with knap-sacke full of scrapps,
And Taber at his backe,..
[Ed a bear chased him up a tree and he fed it with the wedding scraps]

Terrible news for Tabber and Pipe,

“… And so betakes him, to his Pipe and Tabor,
And doth them both, so sound and brave belabor,
The Beare amazed from his scratching runs
As if at's breech had bin a peale of guns,
Which when the Taborer with joy did see.
Well Beare (he said) if this your humor be,
Would I had knowne to use the charming feaste.
You should have daunc'd, before you had my meate
…The story of the Piper and the Beare,
Vowing his Tabor was more deere to him,…”

by  Rowlands, Samuel, 1570?-1630?

between 1746 and 1816between 1746 and 1816 France


18th century catchpenny print 18th centuryAmsterdam, Netherlands

“However lethargic the Bear may be,
he still raises himself up through the fan.
Beautiful game, he already dances meekly
And even carries the Baviaantjo along.”

1788 French children's story:1788'The Children's Friend' by Berquin, M. (Arnaud), Williams, Lucas  

1796 a Masquerade Ball was held at “Orchardley-House, near Frome, (England) at which near 200 persons
were present, dressed in various fancy characters ....The principal characters were, a Dancing Bear, led by his
Keeper playing on the tabor and pipe;”

Ipswich Journal - Saturday 24 December 1796

1794 England 17991799 Poland
1800 a drawing of a dancing bear with a young raggedly-dressed pipe and tabor player.  
early 19thc 1804-1815 France1804-15 France
1808 1808Leeds Intelligencer - Monday 25 January 1808
1808, Germany: 'A group of showmen has gathered in front of a village inn with the name "im wilden Man"
(writing above the door), surrounded by onlookers. The Patron presents a dancing bear with its muzzle tied
and two costumed puppies scuttling about on their hind legs. A boy leans against a whetstone on the left. 
He plays a one-handed wind instrument and hits a drum with a mallet.'
1808 story 1808‘The beauties of The Children's friend :being a selection of interesting pieces :’  Berquin, USA  

1810 bear description

"...Sometimes we observe the rugged beast compelled to walk in an upright posture, with a monkey on its shoulder,
and surrounded by a number of dancing dogs, ridiculously dressed like so many little boys and girls, all moving to some
tune played on a pipe and tabor. It is well indeed, that these powerful animals lose much of their native ferocity, by being
reared among mankind ; and even exhibit in many cases, a great degree of attachment towards their keepers ; for their
patience is oftentimes put to the severest trials, by men who are not unfrequently more brutal than themselves. We hope,
however, that what has been stated of the mode of subduing the temper of the Bear is not true; and that he is not almost
starved to death, and severely beaten every day till he yields obedience to his savage masters, nor that he is tauglit to dance
by being set upon heated iron-plates. "

‘The wonders of animated nature consisting of descriptions at large and engraved representations of the principal animals
and birds in the Royal menageries of London and Paris’

1812 Grand Masquerade at Vauxhall, London 1812Star (London) - Tuesday 21 July 1812  

1819 poem

“The Bear had late escap’d from basest labour,
And fled from dirty streets, to down and dell,
Damning his master, monkey, pipe and tabor ;
His ears still rung with drone, squeak, thump, and bell
Detain’d by man, who kept him for his pleasure,
And held it mirth to see him mar a measure….”

'The Court and Parliament of Beasts'; by Casti, Giovanni Battista,  Rose, William Stewart

1773 to 18231773 - 1823 Germany, town square with numerous stalls. From the left comes a man leading a dog on a leash with a monkey(?)
sitting on its back; the man plays the one-handed flute and drum. In front of him is a man with a bear, behind him are several children.'
1822 England painting by William Frederick Witherington
dancing bear 1828 England print

1822 'The Dancing Bear' painted by Witherington

“Mr. Witherington’s Bear has afforded us much pleasant amusement, both in the original and in this admirable print.
We, however, do not perfectly approve of the mixture of dotted and line manner which has been adopted by Mr. M….
Among the features which interested us more than others, we may notice the bear-leader and the performer on the
pipe and tabour, and the group of children striving to get out of Bruin’s way. We feel pieasure in adding that, as
a whole, few prints, both as to subject and execution, have gratified us more.”

The Literary Chronicle and Weekly Review 1828-02-16: Vol 9 Iss 457

Victorian1823 satire - 'Gentleman Dancing Master' 18241824 Germany  
18251825 England

1825 children's story “…she had just heard the sound
of a pipe and tabor ; upon which they both ran to
the window, when, to their great surprise, they saw from
it a dancing Bear, and three or four dancing Dogs,
who were dressed in the most ridiculous manner possible
….bid the man go away with his dancing beasts, for
they did not like such cruel sports.”

18281828 London

dancing bear 1831 England satire

18331833 France Hollandearly 19th century, Holland
dancing bear 1839
18481848 picture book with monkeys, Netherlands

Crimean War1850's England

1850's1850's Germany
©Victoria & Albert Museum, London
with pandean pipesVictorian, with pandean pipes
18th - 19th century18th to 19th century Netherlands
18591859 England, with one-person-band
1870 Russia1870 Russia [NYPL]
18701870 models, Germany
Victorian dance musicVictorian dance music cover 'The Bear's Dance' magic lantern slide19th century magic lantern slide  
1822 Germany: ' A musician with a one-handed wind instrument and cylinder drum (large, with snare strings, mallet
with a large round head) starts playing. Two animal trainers make dogs in dresses balance on their hind legs and make
a bear dance. A monkey sits on the bear's back. Draft of an allegory of the month as an illustration for a pocket calendar
for the year 1822.'
1836 Germany ' A crowd has gathered on the street in front of a homestead. She watches a trained bear dance
to the music of a musician with a one-handed flute and drum. In addition to the musician and the bear, the small
group of hikers also includes a packed donkey, two dogs, a monkey, a camel and a camel guide as well as a bear guide.'
1799-1858 Germany ' A traveling circus presents its animals in front of a house entrance. In the middle is a dancing bear
with a tamer holding a curved alphorn or knotted staff. A boy plays for the dance with a small one-handed flute
and a small cylinder drum hanging from his neck...'
1838 ‘Cloaks versus Great Coats’1838Planet - Sunday 11 March 1838
1841 satire in a newspaper commentry: 1841 satireMorning Herald (London) - Saturday 06 November 1841
1845 18451845 The Penny Magazine, page 52
1845 ‘A Bear Steak’ 1845Hogg’s Weekly Instructor quoted Monday 15 December 1845
1846 as a metaphor: 1846Monmouthshire Beacon - Saturday 07 November 1846

Brother Bruin by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)
A dancing Bear grotesque and funny
Earned for his master heaps of money,
Gruff yet good-natured, fond of honey,
And cheerful if the day was sunny.
Past hedge and ditch, past pond and wood
He tramped, and on some common stood;
There, cottage children circling gaily,
He in their midmost footed daily.
Pandean pipes and drum and muzzle
Were quite enough his brain to puzzle: ...

1846 Italian bears

“…there were native Italian bears that danced to pipe and tabor in the streets of Rome and all through Europe,
it is certain that there have been Abruzzesi bear-wards— men that have wandered from these mountains with
bear and monkey over a good part of the world….”

‘Popular customs, sports and recollections of the south of Italy’ by MacFarlane, Charles

“…I cut the sweep trade, bought Pandean pipes, and started with an organ man as his mate. I saved money with
the organ man, and then bought a drum. …I left the organ man and went out with 'Michael, the Italy bear.'
Michael was the man's name that brought over the bear from somewhere abroad. He was a Italy man; and he
used to beat the bear and manage her. They called her Jenny; but Michael was not to say roughish with her, unless
she was obstropolous. If she were he showed her the large mopstick and beat her with it - hard sometimes - specially
when she wouldn't let the monkey get a top of her head, for that was part of the performance. The monkey was dressed
the same as a soldier, but the bear had no dress but her muzzle and chain. … The bear had been taught to roll and tumble
- she rolled right over her head all round a stick, and then she danced round it. She did it to the word of command.
Michael said to her, 'Round and round again.'…When we've travelled in the country we've sometimes had trouble to
get lodgings for the bear. We've had to sleep in outhouses with her, and have sometimes frightened people that didn't
know we were there, but nothing serious. Bears is well-behaved enough, if they're not aggrawated. Perhaps no one
but me is left in England now, what properly understands a dancing bear…. It's more than thirty years ago - yes a good
bit more now. At Chester races one year, we were all taken and put into prison - bear, and dogs, and musicianers and all
- every one - because we played a day after the races; that was Saturday. … There's no bears at all allowed now -
times is changed, and all for the worser… I drummed and piped my way from Chester to London…”

 The Morning Chronicle : Labour and the Poor, 1849-50; Henry Mayhew - Letter LII

1848 story from the viewpoint of the bear: 18481848'Pippie's warning; or, Mind your temper' by Catharine Crowe

1852 1852The Leisure Hour 1852 p age 314


“Turkish Folk Lore. —Some Bulgarian shepherds, travelling the empire with performing bears and monkeys,
have come in their course to this part of Asia; and in the country town of Boojah the other day, the people,
chiefly Greeks, pressed the showman for bear's hair, which they esteem a sovereign remedy for fever and ague.
This belief is shared in by the respectable classes as a matter of course. The bears danced to pipe and tabor ;…
a thoroughly medieval scene, which of late years has become extinct in England….”

Notes and Queries 1853-10-19: Vol 12 Iss 303

1856 story

“…Then a huge bear came on board — a very gentlemanly, dignified fellow ; never in a hurry, and who always moved
about with a gracious deliberation. Captain Reud amused himself by endeavouring to teach him to dance ; and a worthless
blackguard who could play on the pipe and tabour, and who probably had led a bear about the country, was taken into
especial grace, and was loaded with benefits, in order to assist his captain in his lingular avocations….”

'Rattlin, the Reefer' by Frederick Marryat

1867 story

“…at one end was a brown bear pit, built up with rock. A large pole was placed in the middle of the pit,
in which were several brown hears from Norway. The girls bought some buns, and putting one on a stick
used for that purpose, held it out to the pole in the middle of the pit. Mr. Bear was quite at home at this
business and soon one of them climbed up the pole and took the bun from the end of the stick. The girls
were much amused at Mr. Bruin's climbing abilities.

"This kind of bear," said Elder R., "used to be shown round London in olden times, and taught to dance
to the music of a pipe and tabor, his keeper having him secured by a strong chain and collar round his neck;
but it was by a very cruel process that he was taught to dance, and it was prohibited when the people
became more educated….”

'Juvenile Instructor' by George Quayle Cannon ; Deseret Sunday School Union

1872 bear training - [Ed. not for the sensitive and animal lovers ] 1872 bear training
1876 A dancing bear is often used to portray Russia:1876Broad Arrow - Saturday 15 January 1876
dacning bear, SpainSpain 19th centuryFrance
19th century19th century

1886 Germany

'In a square in front of houses in a city, a man is leading
an erect bear on a chain. In the background on the left
stands a man playing a flute and a drum (beaten with a
mallet, wind instrument played with one hand). Numerous
people, especially children, rush to the audience. '

Victorian illustrationVictorian children's illustration, sheet 191 France

18881888 another version sheet number 291 © Musée de l'Image 

1901 Story set in Elizabethan times
"… There, in the middle of the glade, sat Roger Prat on his tabor, piping for dear life, while Gyll Croyden flashed
in and out amid the shadows in a dance even more fast and furious than the tune. But this was not all; for there,
in ludicrous contrast, stood King Lud, the bear, facing her from across the sward, erect on his hind-legs and curveting
clumsily about. His nose sniffed the air; his fore-paws dangled idly on his shaggy breast; but the bandy hind-legs danced
with an awkward alacrity ..."

'John Vytal : a tale of the lost colony' by Payson, William Farquhar  


1448 Slovenia

14701470 Tours, France
18911891 from 'Punch' cartoon
bear player20th century, USA  
dancing bear20th century England
dancing bear20th century England  

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