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What are Tibetan Singing Bowls?

Updated on September 4, 2017
Singing bowl
Singing bowl | Source

Actually not much is known about the origins and history of this wonderful object of art. Hardly any written records were found for singing bowls, although they have been found in monasteries and homes.

However, based on Tibetan oral tradition, it is believed that the singing bowls originated from India. They were introduced to Tibet at the same time as Buddhism, around 8th century A.D.

Why called “Singing bowls”?

Tibetan singing bowls are called as such because they can be made to produce sound.

Such bowls, when rubbed with a ringing stick or mallet, produce a wonderful sound that is pure and instills a sense of calmness and relaxation.

How to make the bowl “sings”?

Hold the bowl in the palm of your hand to enable it to vibrate freely. Rub a wooden mallet along the rim of the bowl lightly, in a circular motion and with even pressure. When the bowl begins to vibrate, gently increase the speed of rubbing.

Sounds produced by singing bowls differ due to the variations in their metallic content, as well as the type of mallet or ringing stick used.

Applications of singing bowls

In ancient religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism, sound is an important part of spiritual practice. Singing bowls serve as part of the religious rituals and music.

In monasteries and homes throughout the Himalayas, singing bowls are used to aid meditation.

Tibetan singing bowls were introduced to the West more than 25 years ago. In addition to their traditional usage for meditation, their applications have now expanded to areas such as sound therapy, holistic healing, deep relaxation, stress reduction, and chakra balancing.

What is Singing bowl made of?

Seven metals (gold, silver, copper, mercury, iron, tin and lead) are traditionally involved in the making of singing bowls. They represent the seven planets, which is the sun, the moon, Venus, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, respectively.

Wide range of sizes, colours and designs

Singing bowls can be 4 - 26 inches in diameter. They have colours like black, blue, brown, green, red and silver. Some have painting decorations or carvings. Buddhist signs are often seen around the edge of the bowl.

Tibetan lost art

New singing bowls are unable to produce the same sound quality as that of antique singing bowls.

According to historians’ belief, the artistry of making singing bowls was perfected almost two thousand five hundred years ago. But it has become a lost art very long time ago, even before Tibet came under the Chinese rule.

Ancient singing bowls, upon metallurgical analysis, were found to be made from a twelve-metal alloy, as compared to the seven metals used in later versions.

There is even a legend that says meteorites were included in some of the antique singing bowls.

Singing bowls of the present

Nowadays, the countries that produce singing bowls are Nepal, India, Japan, Korea and China. However, those from the Himalayan are the best known and are sometimes called “Himalayan Singing Bowls”, which is a more appropriate name than “Tibetan Singing Bowls”.

© 2011 pinkytoky


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