About Singing Bowl

History of Singing Bowls

Little is known about Himalayan singing bowls.

All textual references to the bowls known to the west are modern, but several century-old paintings and statues depict singing bowls in great detail. Singing bowls from the 15th century can be found in private collections, but the tradition probably dates even earlier. Bronze had been used to construct medicinal tools and musical instruments since ancient times and the tradition of the bowls themselves date back to the 10th century.

The singing bowl’s origin in Tibet is part of the reason for its obscurity. Historically the Tibetan lamas and monks kept the singing bowls to private ceremonies. When the Chinese invaded in 1950 the monks fled. Poor, they were forced to sell their possessions–including their bowls. The bowls spread worldwide, and eventually to the West.

Their calming sounds can now be heard in hospitals, school classrooms, psychotherapy session, and healing centers.

Antique Singing Bowls

Traditionally, antique singing bowls were made of Panchaloha (literally meaning “five metals” in Sanskrit) mixed with silver & gold. These seven metals are bronze, copper, tin, zinc, iron, silver and gold. Antique often include silver, gold, nickel and the most prized “sky-iron” (Tibetan: thog chags) from meteorites and tektites.

Antique singing bowls produce multiphonic and polyharmonic overtones which are unique to the instruments. The subtle yet complex multiple harmonic frequencies are a special quantity of the high quality bronze alloy. The art of making singing bowls in the traditional way is often called a lost art, but traditional craftsmen do still make singing bowls in the traditional manner in hidden corners of Nepal.

The reason for the popularity of bowls as a material for meditative & medicinal uses is the strong anti-bacterial properties of copper. Silver, also a constituent of singing bowls has anti-bacterial properties as well. Some bowls have the tonal coherence that qualifies thm as a “singing bowl” & were specifically made to produce sound.

Antique singing bowls are highly prized and collected worldwide. Their popularity is due to their medicinal and meditative value, fine craftsmanship and remarkable sound. The aging process greatly improves the tone and centuries old antique produce an incredibly rich and beautiful sound. The antique bowls which were used by masters of Tibetan Buddhism are vibrant, full of spiritual energy and are more effective for meditative and medicinal purposes.

Modern Development

Singing bowls are manufactured today. New bowls may be plain or decorated. They sometimes feature religious iconography and spiritual motifs and symbols, such as the Tibetan mantra (incantation) OM MANI PADME HUM, images of Buddhas, and Ashtamangala  (eight auspicious symbols). New singing bowls are made from the same metals in Nepal and are exported all over the world. Today most of the European, Asian, South and North American countries use the bowls for meditative and medicinal purposes.

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