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Singing Bowls: Complete Guide (Updated 2020)

Singing Bowls: Complete Guide (Updated 2020)

Welcome to the complete guide to singing bowls and their history! In this post, we explain what singing bowls are, their history, how they are made, and what kinds of materials are used to make them. We also explain how cultures have used singing bowls for centuries for spiritual and medicinal purposes. Let's dive in!

In this article we discuss the following:

  • Singing Bowls: An Introduction 
  • What is a Singing Bowl? 
  • Where Did Singing Bowls Originate? 
  • Singing Bowls and Their Hidden Value
  • Singing Bowls and the Himalayas 
  • Other Regions Where Singing Bowls are Found
  • How do Singing Bowls Work?
  • How Singing Bowls Migrated Into Western Culture 
  • Singing Bowls and Yoga
  • Cultural Appropriation and Singing Bowls
  • What Materials are Used in Singing Bowls?
  • The Singing Bowl Terminology You Need to Know
  • How Are Singing Bowls Made?
  • How Different Cultures Have Used Singing Bowls

Singing Bowls: An Introduction

For many centuries, music and sound have been used as tools to promote healing and meditation. One of the first instruments created by mankind to be used for this purpose are called singing bowls. These mystical metal bowls, when struck, can create contemplative and heavenly sounds, which resonate as if the universe is manifesting itself upon one’s soul.

What is a Singing Bowl?

singing bowl is a type of idiophone, which is a musical instrument that when struck, shaken or scraped, produces sound through vibration. Singing bowls come in a single, inverted bell form, but come in different sizes, ranging from a few centimeters to a meter in diameter. The smaller ones produce more delicate sounds, while the larger bowls produce deeper, full-bodied sounds. To produce a sound, singing bowls are often struck on their rim or side using a mallet. Each method produces very distinctive sounds.

These bowls are often used in religious and spiritual settings, invoking meditation and relaxation. They can also be used in healing and for treating various illnesses through sound therapy. The sounds singing bowls produce create a kind of energy medicine that is said to fix the broken frequencies of the body, mind and soul. Playing these bowls creates a centering effect, which causes the left and right sides of the human brain to synchronize with one another. Thus, various activities such as yoga and other forms of meditative practices sometimes employ singing bowls, as they have the miraculous ability to bring the listener to peace and calmness.

Singing bowls go by various names throughout the world. While they go by many different names, the unifying concept is that singing bowls are often associated with Tibet or Buddhism, create an incredible immersive sound and can have astonishing healing effects. Depending on where you are in the world, your singing bowl may be referred to as a "Tibetan singing bowl", "meditation bowl", "sound bowl", "Tibetan bowl", "Himalayan singing bowl", Tibetan healing bowl", "sound bowl", "Tibetan sound bowl", "Buddhist singing bowl", "Tibetan bell", "prayer bowl", or simply "healing bowl". For more information, see our comprehensive blog post on the different terminology for singing bowls.

Where Did Singing Bowls Originate?

Singing bowls have a mysterious past and not much is known about their origins. Their history began at a time long before the dawn of modern civilization, with the result that written information about them is almost close to non-existent. The first singing bowls were said to be made in Mesopotamia over 5,000 years ago. As such, singing bowls are believed to be one of the most ancient artisan crafts in human history. Although folklore about the artisans behind singing bowls existed in the later centuries, knowledge of that folklore unfortunately died along with the singing bowls’ succeeding owners.

The very first singing bowls were said to be made of pure copper and produced for both medicinal and musical purposes. They were produced primarily inside the homes of the artisans. Knowledge about the metalwork was passed on from generation to generation, although eventually this knowledge chain was broken. Some time later, singing bowls began to be made of brass, which is a combination of various earth metals, including copper. Some anecdotal references say that 2,000-year old brass singing bowls appeared in a Chinese region called Tibet at the dawn of the last century.

The singing bowls’ Tibetan origins added to their historical ambiguity. Although singing bowls could be found inside monasteries and homes, it was said that monks were not allowed to discuss anything about these bowls. As a matter of fact, the monks’ sacred text, called the Tibetan Buddhist Canon, also contained no information about the bowls. Anecdotal references say that Tibetan lamas and monks used these bowls for secret, sacred rituals. It is even said that these rituals were so spiritual in nature that it gave the monks the ability to astral project and travel into other realms and dimensions.

During the Chinese invasion of Tibet in the middle of the 19th century, the indigenous people, known as the lamas and monks, were forced to flee, taking all of their valued possessions with them, including their singing bowls. In order to survive the crisis, the lamas and monks were forced to sell their singing bowls and other items of significant value. This circumstance led to singing bowls spreading around the world, as well as causing the esoteric knowledge about them to disappear. Today, singing bowls’ mystical sounds can now be heard in many different places such as healing centers, yoga studios, classrooms, temples, and much more. But one thing remains – singing bowls are still as powerful of a spiritual, medicinal and musical tool as they were thousands of years ago.

The Hidden Value of Singing Bowls

A lot of the ancient singing bowls that were preserved from the East tend to look and feel very different relative to the bowls we’ve become accustomed to today. The early bowls were extremely thick and heavy; so much so that playing them was actually impractical for the average person. 

Historians have pondered the reason for this, and have concluded that the most obvious explanation would be that of storehouse value. Back then, the only thing that had real value or ‘currency’ were the different types of metals. A lot of trading took place using coins, and it was often the weight of the metal making up the coin that determined its value — not the coin itself.

It makes sense then that the makers of the singing bowls opted to make a lot of them significantly heavier than necessary, as it gave the bowls more market value. In ancient times, each village would have a designated metal handler who would happily accept weighted singing bowls as payment for land and other items of value. 

It is also believed that the more affluent villagers would gift others heavy singing bowls as wedding gifts. This could be seen as a sort of lump sum to start a newly wedded couple off on more stable financial ground. 

Some will question the validity of this speculation, especially when we consider how we use singing bowls today. We need to keep in mind that back then it was only the monks who were seen as qualified to use singing bowls in rituals and ceremonies. For everyone else, singing bowls were simply collectors items to have in the home, and were usually used for storing grains and water. Some households even used singing bowls to eat out of. 

If you wanted to reap the vibrational benefits of the bowls, you had to visit with the monks. The monks were very secretive about the chants and prayers that went into their singing bowl practices; many of them never spoke of these prayers with anyone in the outside world — not even after the invasion. 

Singing Bowls and the Himalayas

There is historical evidence to support the notion that the ancient people of Tibet were not the only ones who carried this kind of metal work in their civilizations. Singing bowl artifacts have also been traced back to villages within the Himalayan region, namely Nepal and India. 

It’s likely that these Himalayan people adopted the same bowl making knowledge from the people in the Middle East, as singing bowls had originated in this region with the Ancient Mesopotamians. After all, it is believed that this is how the Tibetan people gained their own knowledge of the practice almost 2000 years later. 

It is believed that the Himalayan tradition of singing bowls is also where the monks first adopted their very secretive chants and prayers that became impenetrable by the public. During these times, singing bowls were actually made with a combination of what they called the “seven sacred metals”: gold, silver, copper, tin, iron, lead and mercury. 

Modern science shows that most bowls made from this range of metals actually can’t sing very well. This explains why the Himalayan people eventually began making more simple bowls out of 80% copper and 20% tin. 

There are manufacturing secrets and spiritual practices from these times that we will likely never fully understand. Singing bowls that have been preserved from the Ancient Himalaya region are today considered artifacts and are held in museums around the world. It is the Tibetan singing bowls that are still in production and the reason why we have easy access to purchasing one for our own uses. 

Other Regions Where Singing Bowls are Found

Given their origin in the Himalayan regions, the natural migration of the bowls occurred through Tibet, Nepal, Buthan and down into India and other parts of the Middle East. 

Asia is a vast, expansive land, and it comes as no surprise that not all regions adopted the practice of singing bowls even after thousands of years. Only a few of the countries closer to the Thai Gulf and Malaysian peninsula show a history of singing bowls, as most were far more affiliated with the traditional gong. 

Japanese Singing Bowls

Once in Tibet, the singing bowl gradually made its way even further East and eventually reached Japan. 

In Japan, singing bowls are called “Rin” and they are found in almost every temple for use in prayer or worship. These particular bowls are most commonly made from high quality bronze, offering a musical range that is somewhat unmatched. 

The average household in Japan will have a singing bowl of its own for the family to use. They call these “Butsudan”, and the set up typically features a singing bowl presented on a cushion that is atop a wooden stand, alongside a separate stand that holds the wooden mallet in horizontal position. 

Afghan Singing Bowls

We often forget just how central Afghanistan is to both the Himalayan region and Southeast Asia. 

Today, Afghanistan is a predominantly Islamic community, but, prior to the arrival of Islam, this nation actually practiced a variety of different religions, Hinduism and Buddhism among them. 

It then makes sense that Afghan singing bowls became quite a booming industry, especially since this country has such a knack for metalwork. You may be familiar with the silversmiths that make the traditional Kuchi jewelry now available around the world. 

Chinese Singing Bowls

China is like a continent of its own when you consider just how big and diverse the land and culture is. In the West, we like to make the mistake of referring to ‘Chinese cuisine’ as a catch-all for all cuisine from that country, when there actually isn’t just one cuisine in China. In fact, China has 8 unique cuisines, which gives you a sense of just how diverse the culture is. That being said, Chinese singing bowls are but one of few objects that saw widespread popularity across the nation, cuisines and their differences aside. 

A lot of the singing bowls that we purchase in the West are made in and distributed from China. Chinese singing bowls typically don’t feature mallets wrapped in leather; they are usually made with just plain wood. 

The cushion that accompanies the bowl can be used as an indicator as to whether the bowl is of Chinese origin or not. Chinese singing bowls often feature circular cushions made from red satin that are embroidered with Chinese symbolism. 

How Do Singing Bowls Work?

The intention behind the work of singing bowls may be spiritually fueled, but there is an important physical component that also comes into play. 

Singing bowls work because of sound waves that are emitted when the bowl itself is struck with a  mallet. These vibrations are so significant and organized that they have the ability to shift different elements, like water, into creative patterns. 

Today we have the technology that allows us to film a water-filled singing bowl up close, and then slow down the footage on a computer to reveal what is happening with each bump of the mallet. What has been revealed is the delicate way in which the vibrations from the bowl lift and manipulate the water, causing actual droplets to dance across the surface in a choreographed way. 

Since humans are made up of a large amount of water, it comes as no surprise that a singing bowl could potentially have a significant effect on the vibrations of one’s body. Some practitioners believe that if we can make our own vibrations harmonize with those of a singing bowl, then the opportunities for balance and healing become endless. 

Attuning the vibrations of the body to the vibration of a singing bowl can bring about relief of stress, lowering of blood pressure, feelings of relaxation, and healing of imbalances within one’s system.

For more information, read our article on the science behind singing bowls

How to Successfully Play a Singing Bowl

Playing a singing bowl feels difficult to everyone on their first try. Those with more experience will be able to play their bowl for lengthy periods of time without a break in sound, but those who are unfamiliar with the practice may find it more challenging. 

To play a singing bowl, one needs to rest the bowl in the palm of their hand whilst the hand is being flexed so that the palm is as flat as possible. You do not want your fingers to be involved in the holding of the bowl at all. 

With the other hand you’ll pick up your mallet and, with the head facing to the floor, give the bowl a solid tap so that the initial sound emerges. Immediately after the tap, begin maneuvering the mallet around the circumference of the bowl while keeping it firmly pressed against the edge. 

Continue to go around and around, using your entire arm as opposed to just your wrist. The frequency of the vibration will build with the movement, and, if done properly, the sound will continue to resonate for some time after you part the mallet from the bowl itself. 

If you are a beginner when it comes to singing bowls, see our complete guide on how to play a singing bowl.  

How Singing Bowls Migrated Into Western Culture

Historians have a number of ‘best guess’ scenarios which attempt to trace the migration of singing bowls into the Western world. Evidently, this migration can be seen as a slow, gradual trickle of events, as opposed to one definitive moment. 

If you visit Europe today, you’ll be able to explore a number of museums that were once private residences of affluent individuals. Paris in particular has a range of private museums that showcase the personal collections of art-loving citizens who had the means to travel far and wide during the 19th century. 

These individuals had a passion for foreign lands, and would spend months traveling to faraway countries throughout Africa and the East. Upon returning home, they would bring back whatever native artifacts, artworks and furniture that they picked up along the way, over time transforming their homes into informal showrooms for their prized possessions. 

A number of singing bowls would have made their way into Europe and the West in the suitcases of these individuals. Smaller trinkets of all kinds were among the easiest artifacts to bring home, as they could be easily concealed and wouldn’t require shipping of their own. 

This accounts for a lot of the singing bowls that moved from the East into the West, but definitely not all of them. 

What we do know is there was a point in time where singing bowls seemed to be infiltrating more and more Western spaces at a rapid pace. Suddenly, singing bowls were being used by holistic healers and reiki masters, and even making the occasional appearance in yoga classes. 

As we moved into the 20th century, Westerners began making the journey into the East far more frequently. Up until this point, yoga and Eastern medicine had been perceived as a somewhat unreachable space, reserved for those with an “in” to the industry. You either had to read books to learn about it, or you had to know someone who had made the trek at least once in their lives, and hope that they would pass on their knowledge to you. 

When yoga didn’t turn out to be a passing fad, more and more individuals began saving their pennies with intent to visit the East and attend a training program of their own. They would go over to regions like India and Indonesia, become certified in the practice, and bring their newfound skills back to their home countries. 

While exploring the East from a healing or teaching perspective, it’s inevitable that one would encounter a fair share of singing bowls along the way. They are intrinsic to the culture and the traditions of that region. 

Many who visited these lands would end up investing in a singing bowl of their own, as a keepsake to take home and perhaps incorporate into their newfound medicinal or yogic practices. As trends go, if one has one then so must the rest! Singing bowls were suddenly hot items and were being sought after by every ‘spiritually inclined’ person their side of the hemisphere. 

Their compact size made them easy to travel with, too. So, those making the journey into India, China and Indonesia could cram a few of them into their suitcase and bring them home to gift to friends and family. 

Eventually, the internet offered up e-commerce websites which made the journey to the East almost unnecessary. Online shopping and worldwide delivery of goods has bridged the gap between both sides of the planet, allowing for goods such as singing bowls to be shipped far and wide. 

This is of interest to singing bowl manufacturers in the East, as they make a lot more money selling their products to a global market than they do waiting for buyers to arrive in person. Some argue that the sanctity of these bowls has been lost since being made so widely accessible, but if good energy and improved vibrations are the goal, one can’t help but feel that the Ancient Himalayans would probably support the spread. 

Singing Bowls and Yoga

As more of yoga’s positive effects on the human body are brought to light, the fine line between energy and yoga becomes ever more subtle. 

As mentioned above, many yoga practitioners make the journey to the East at some point in their career in order to attain the sought after teaching accreditation. It’s appealing for yogis to receive their training in the lands where yoga actually originated. Most yoga practitioners will also uncover traditional rituals along the way, sound bowls amongst them. 

When it comes to Kundalini yoga, major focus is given to sound healing. Typically, practitioners will use a traditional gong throughout a Kundalini class, as was customary throughout centuries of this practice. The use of a gong during yoga can be traced back thousands of years to Northern India, the same region where sound bowls first emerged in the Himalayas. 

Yoga guided by singing bowls is becoming more and more of a sought after niche in Western studios. A singing bowl offers yoga teachers a simpler alternative to a gong, and helps  attain the same level of sound when played properly. However, some teachers are hesitant to bring in a sound bowl. A singing bowl requires more effort than a gong, and not all classes have an extra pair of hands at the ready to play the bowl at the suitable moments. 

This is why there has been such a rise in popularity for recordings of singing bowls on the internet. The recordings offer up to a few hours of consistent, repetitive singing bowl sounds that make for wonderful background music for yoga and even during meditation. Singing bowls are known for their ability to help facilitate one’s transition into a state of deep meditation.  

For more information, see your blog post on the use of singing bowls in sound baths and sound therapy.

Cultural Appropriation and Singing Bowls

One of the biggest discussions surrounding the history of singing bowls seems to be the question of cultural appropriation. This most recent decade has drawn a lot of attention to the ways in which people of the West seem to pick and choose traditions they like best from cultures in the East, while still subjecting the people from said lands to prejudice and internalized racism. 

The discussion explores the notion of whether or not Western culture should be allowed to make use of objects and symbols from Eastern tradition, or if it is essentially inappropriate. 

Some common items that have become examples in this discussion include kimonos, bindis, and Tibetan singing bowls. Should people who are not of Tibetan heritage be allowed to profit from singing bowl sales in the West? Is mass production of these bowls taking away from the ancient heritage in question? 

In truth, it will always be more preferable for one to purchase objects such as singing bowls and kimonos whilst visiting the lands of origin in person. It’s a way of supporting local businesses and honoring the heritage of the object in question. It also means that you’ll likely have connected to the culture on a level unattainable by dwelling in the Western world, so you’ll walk away with a certain respect and understanding of the people in question. This moves one into a place of cultural appreciation, as opposed to cultural appropriation. 

However, it needs to be considered that not everyone can afford to take a trip to the East every time they want to incorporate oriental objects and symbols into their everyday life. The best option most people have to connect to these cultures is exposure via the simple but expensive platform known as the World Wide Web. 

And so the question lingers: is it appropriate for anyone with internet to have access to such culturally rich objects that date back thousands of years? We think it is — but on important conditions!

In particular, if you’re going to sew an element of another culture into your everyday life, you need to take the time to know everything there is to know about said element. What we mean is this: treat the object in question with curiosity, respect and value. 

We have no doubt that the ancient makers of singing bowls would have applauded the spread in interest of sound healing. Sound healing is not something that can be isolated to a single culture; it is a universal right for all who walk the Earth. 

That being said, sound healing and its associated vibrations only work in our favor if we understand them, and respect their laws. Owning a singing bowl is an embodiment of this notion; one is encouraged to take the time to read articles just like this one in order to properly learn the unique history attached to each bowl. 

Once people are able to see how many potential benefits can come from using a singing bowl in everyday life, they tend to develop newfound respect and gratitude toward the culture that brought these objects into the world. Cultural appreciation is one way of uniting people for the better, even over vast oceans. 

When is it Inappropriate to Display a Singing Bowl?

Believe it or not, there are everyday instances in Western society where singing bowls should maybe not have been optioned for aesthetic decor. 

Not everyone who owns a singing bowl has the intention of using it for sound healing; there are some people who simply just like how they look. In one’s private space, this is absolutely fine; so too is it acceptable in a yoga studio, or any sanctuary where sound/energy healing is taking place. 

Institutions that tend to get it wrong are those within the hospitality industries. There have been instances where Westerners have opened Asian themed bars and restaurants to cater to the ever-expanding market, and have incorporated Tibetan singing bowls into the establishments as decor. 

It becomes inappropriate to showcase a singing bowl as decor within a Thai-themed establishment, as Thailand holds no cultural history relevant to this object. Similarly, a restaurant centered around Chinese food would have no business having their waitrons wear kimonos while on shift; the object simply doesn’t have any relevance to the culture in question. 

Using a singing bowl in the wrong context shows ignorance and disrespect to the history of the object, and to the cultures in question. 

What Materials are Used in Singing Bowls?

One of the unique qualities of antique singing bowls is the peculiarity of their composition. Local Tibetan legends say that one of the primary metals used in making singing bowls in the past was meteorite iron.

Meteorites found in Tibet were said to have come through an atmosphere with very low oxygen levels. These meteorites were usually found in the uppermost parts of the Himalayas. Having come from a location closer to the heavens, these meteorites were considered to be of sacred origins, and thus were highly regarded by the Tibetans. Moreover, the low oxygen composition of these meteorites may explain the healing powers of singing bowls, according to the beliefs of some practitioners.

Historically, singing bowls made in the succeeding centuries were believed to have been crafted by combining several types of metals, anywhere between five to nine, and sometimes even twelve. The most common composition was of seven metals. These metals were consecrated with each metal believed to represent a heavenly body or a planet: Gold (Sun), Silver (Moon), Mercury (Mercury), Copper (Venus), Iron (Mars), Tin (Jupiter) and Lead (Saturn). These metals were smelted and purified prior to being cast, reheated and hammered into form. Old singing bowls were believed to have been imbued with wishes, usually through singing chants or mantras.

Although there were also small traces of other metals, old singing bowls were crafted predominantly with copper and tin, which, when combined, form a type of bronze called “bell metal”. Combining these two metals produces a harder yet elastic enough metal that, when struck, creates better reverberation. This type of metal has been used for ages in creating bells. In India, this type of metal was historically used to create cookware and eating utensils as it is believed to possess potent antibacterial and antiviral properties.

The manufacturing of more modern singing bowls typically involves only five metals at most, and oftentimes only two. Due to cost, gold and silver are typically no longer used, but the new singing bowls are still of excellent quality.

Singing Bowl Terminology You Need to Know

If you’re in the market for a singing bowl of your own, then there is some terminology that you’ll need to be aware of. Understanding the different words people use to refer to singing bowls will help you better navigate the market and finally invest in a bowl that is best suited to your interests. 

Brass Singing Bowls

The people of the Ancient Himalayas may have had the means to craft bowls out of the seven sacred metals, but the Ancient Tibetans simply didn’t share in that luxury. 

Initially, the Ancient Tibetans fashioned their singing bowls out of a combination of copper and tin. This method was proven to produce bowls with optimum singing ability, offering the most pleasant and consistent notes. 

As global interest in these bowls continued to grow, the industry needed to instead start making use of metals that were more accessible and affordable. The Tibetans found brass to be an abundant and suitable alternative to copper and tin; brass is a relatively inexpensive metal to extract from the Earth on a mass scale. 

Brass is an alloy metal, and is therefore also very easy to manipulate once heated. One of the most appealing features of brass singing bowls is the even, soft, golden tone that the metal emits. Aesthetically speaking, brass singing bowls are some of the best looking pieces to have up for display. 

There remains widespread debate surrounding the integrity of using brass to make traditional Tibetan singing bowls. Some individuals refer to them as "fake singing bowls”, while others are quite happy with this more affordable alternative to the elite copper versions. 

Brass singing bowls are also great for anyone who wants to use water in their bowl as a means of manipulating sounds. For more information, check out our guide to using water with your singing bowl.

Crystal Singing Bowl

It comes as no surprise that the spiritual communities of the West took it upon themselves to find new and improved ways of manufacturing these ancient devices. Crystal singing bowls emerged onto the scene sometime during the last decade, and they offer an alternative way of creating sound vibrations relative to what is achievable with metal bowls. 

Generally, a crystal singing bowl is made from 99.8% crystal compounds, which is simply another way of saying pure crystals extracted from the Earth’s crust. No, not all crystals are pure. In fact, a lot of the crystal jewels sold online are mostly glass that is dyed to simply look like different crystals, so it is very important to make sure you are dealing with a reputable seller.

Crystal singing bowls can be made from a variety of different crystals, and it’s usually always the ones that are deemed most abundant to the Earth and therefore inexpensive to use in big quantities, namely rose quartz, clear quartz or amethyst. 

Unlike regular metal singing bowls, crystal bowls are believed to be more deeply linked to physical healing of the body, since each cell within the human structure has its own geometric crystalline component. It is believed that the sound emitted from a crystal singing bowl can stimulate and balance the electromagnetic field of the individual receiving the healing. 

That being said, quartz crystals are particularly interesting as they contain 99.8% silicone quartz. Almost every cell in our body contains silica, which is believed to cause a direct magnetization to the electrons of the quartz crystal itself. It is believed that the oscillation of the sounds that emerge from a quartz singing bowl therefore affect the cells in our brains in a positive way, while also allowing for altered states of consciousness in the right environment. 

The different musical notes that come from sound bowls can also be directly linked to each of the body’s seven chakras. Crystals have long been known for their healing and protective properties, so it seems only logical that fashioning them into vibrational healing devices would be a highly beneficial practice. 

For a full breakdown of crystal singing bowls, check out our comprehensive guide on the subject.

Tibetan Singing Bowl Set

If your intention is to invest in a metal-made singing bowl, then we recommend looking into what is known as a Tibetan singing bowl set. 

These sets contain your metal singing bowl, a sturdy cushion for display and playing purposes, and a traditional leather-wrapped mallet usually made out of wood. For a great set, check out the selection offered by Shanti Bowl.

When it comes to owning a singing bowl, all you really need is the bowl itself and the mallet. The cushion is not a necessity and you’ll be able to both play and display your bowl just fine without it. They do, however, make for very pleasing additions to any display of a singing bowl, especially on a curated shelf in one’s home. 

Tibetan singing bowl sets occasionally contain more than one size of mallet. Different sized mallets mean you’ll be able to experiment with different notes and volumes when playing your metal bowl. 

These sets also make for fantastic gifts for anyone remotely interested in energy or ancient healing traditions. They are timeless and bring a sense of ancientness to any space they are placed in. 

Tibetan Bell

The phrase ‘Tibetan bell’ found its way into the modern market mostly because certain individuals couldn’t figure out how to properly play the thing! If you don’t know how to play a bowl, these devices will appear to be nothing more than a device that needs to be tapped repeatedly to produce sound: i.e. a bell. 

Tibetan singing bowls are essentially just inverted bells. The player has to learn to balance the singing bowl in the palm of their hand, and play until they are able to achieve a solid ringing sound that doesn’t fade out or require a second tap. 

Chakra Singing Bowls

All ancient scriptures concerning energy make reference to seven major energy centers within the human frame. They are the crown, third eye, throat, heart, solar plexus, sacral and root chakras.

It is widely believed that these seven energy centers are responsible for the balance, or imbalance, or each human being in question. The disruption of one chakra can cause tangible imbalances to manifest in one’s exterior world. 

Since chakras are energy, they are also believed to be vibration. Chakras can be directly manipulated by using vibrational devices such as a singing bowl. Each chakra has an octave that it vibrates at, and these octaves can be matched by simply tuning into the correct sound of your singing bowl. 

Clear quartz crystal chakra bowls are popular since clear quartz contains the full spectrum of light, much like a rainbow. Each color within this spectrum correlates directly to a colored chakra within the human energy body. 

These are the notes you’ll need to match to direct vibrational healing to each of the specific chakras:

Fake Singing Bowls

Finally, fake singing bowls need to be on all of our radars, especially in the fast pace of today’s manufacturing industries. 

Truth be told, it is very difficult to identify a fake singing bowl from a real one. This is not a regulated industry, and many businesses opt to take advantage of the massive demand by selling knock offs to make a quick buck.

Fortunately, when it comes to metal-based singing bowls, there are actually no such things as distinctly “fake” versions; there are simply quality made bowls, and cheaply made bowls. 

Cheap or “fake” singing bowls will be able to make sounds just as quality bowls can, but they won’t sound as pleasing or consistent with the accepted spectrum of musical notes. The use of brass as a main-metal when producing singing bowls makes it almost impossible to regulate the sound spectrum of one brass bowl from another. Copper was the original metal used in the production of singing bowls, and it offers a far more accurate sound spectrum. 

Crystal singing bowls are where the real issues arise. These are much easier to fake, as there is a massive black market for mock crystals that pose as authentic Earth minerals. These replicas are made from glass and can be strategically dyed to look like just about every crystal in existence. 

When it comes to avoiding scams like this, it’s always best to purchase your crystal singing bowl from a reputable source. Since this is a relatively new style of singing bowl, there are not many manufacturers taking the chance with fake crystals as of yet, but make sure to do your research and deal with a reputable seller. For a great selection of authentic and high-quality crystal singing bowls, check out the crystal bowls offered by Shanti Bowl.

How are Singing Bowls Made?

There are two known methods of creating singing bowls. Hammering was, and still is, a common method used today, wherein a flat sheet of metal is hammered by at least three individuals over a bowl pattern or form until it takes on the same shape. The edges are then bent over and hammered further until smooth, while the inside is often machine-polished. Traditionalists prefer singing bowls that have been hammered and can easily distinguish them by checking the hammer marks.

The other method involves pouring a molten metal into a mold, which forms the first of two parts of the modern singing bowl. The other part is called the neck, which is formed and welded together with the bowl, before being polished. This method creates a more confined shape, which produces longer lasting vibrations and sound when struck. The tonal quality is also significantly improved. This type of bowl is usually embellished by acid etching or enameling. 

There are many singing bowls on the market today. They often differ by the sound they produce, which can be attributed to their design and shape, thickness, smoothness, and the combination of metals used. In general, the best singing bowls are those that resonate most with whoever is playing them.

How Different Cultures Have Used Singing Bowls

Regardless of their truest origin, singing bowls have been used for a variety of purposes throughout the course of history – meditation, alternative healing, religion, music and even as a currency. Today, they have become a popular tool for sound healers, music therapists and yoga practitioners in different parts of the world.

Spirituality and Meditative Uses

With its calming and meditative sound, singing bowls were often used in Himalayan monasteries and homes to indicate the start or end of a meditation period. It was also said that singing bowls were played during an entire session to help the mind focus and obtain a state of pure relaxation. It is believed that whenever a singing bowl is played the mantras and good wishes imbued within it while it was made are released to flow freely into the universe. Hindus and Buddhists have also traditionally used singing bowls in their rituals to aid in their spiritual focus, harmony and inner peace.

Medicinal and Alternative Healing Uses

Hindus believe that the world began with a sound, and thus sound plays a very important role in our bodies and in the universe as a whole. Sound as an alternative healing method has been practiced in many cultures for many centuries. It is believed that the delicate and unique sound of singing bowls can deeply affect our bodies, and can beneficially affect the body’s physical and psychological state. Our bodies contain several energy centers, or chakras, running from head to toe. These energy centers are believed to correspond to specific tones which the singing bowls can naturally produce.

Alternative healing practitioners typically use several smaller bowls with flatter bottoms, and place them on top of these energy centers. The resonance and vibration of singing bowls when placed on top of these energy centers are believed to penetrate more deeply than bigger and heavier bowls which are typically placed above or beside the body. In the traditional Tibetan healing practice, singing bowls are also believed to increase the efficacy of various medicinal herbs. Additionally, when used as an alternative healing method, singing bowls are said to alleviate the negative effects of chemotherapy and radiation in cancer patients, although there are no scientific studies to support this conclusion yet. However, reports say that singing bowls helped patients develop a sense of peace and well-being, and also reduced pain.

Physical Relaxation Uses

Sound massage using singing bowls is a great natural way to restore harmony to the body. Its soothing properties can naturally bring peace and focus the mind. The vibration and sound produced by singing bowls creates a type of energy that works with the body in many ways and which can engender several positive results, such as a deep sense of tranquility and reduced psychological and emotional stress.

Singing bowls used in sound massages are typically engineered for long periods of use and focus more on the vibration than the sound produced. Vibrational sound therapy allows the body to become at peace both at an inner and outer level. Singing bowls of different weights and sizes are usually placed directly on top of the body while being struck. They can also be placed surrounding the body.

The body is composed of approximately 50 to 65 percent water. Water synergizes with vibrational patterns and connects and transports important elements within the body. Vibrational sound massages can help these positive elements flow freely within the body. In most cases, this kind of therapy is said to alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, and other similar conditions.

Historical Uses

At one time, handmade singing bowls were used as common kitchen, storage and eating items. Although this use may no longer be applicable in the present day, it is worth noting that singing bowls were also used as a kind of currency in the past when coins and other precious objects were the only kind of legal tender available. Traditionally, singing bowls were valued based on their thickness, weight, and purported metal composition. Typically, the heavier the singing bowl was, the higher value it would have. Moreover, singing bowls were often given as wedding gifts or as a dowry.

Conclusion

Singing bowls have been used for centuries to promote healing and meditation in various contexts. We invite you to get your own Tibetan singing bowl or crystal singing bowl and experience some of the amazing benefits!

12 comments

Aug 01, 2020 • Posted by Shanti Bowl

Hi Delbert, thanks for your comment! That’s so great to hear – enjoy and let us know if you have any questions!

Aug 01, 2020 • Posted by Delbert Osborne

I’m using a 6" Tibetan Singing Bowl wile practicing Mindfulness meditation and during the Body scan for healing and total wellness 😔

Jun 09, 2020 • Posted by Shanti Bowl

Hi Catalina, thanks for your message! We were able to translate your message into English with Google Translate, and hopefully you can do the same with our reply. :) Sorry to hear about that health problem that you are having. We are not sure who could best assist you with your issue, but we do think it would be a very good idea to consult with a variety of different health professionals to obtain a variety of different opinions so that you can make the most informed decision. We wish you the best of luck resolving your issue!

Jun 09, 2020 • Posted by Catalina Sommer

Jeg har i 8 år haft en lyd i hovedet 24/7 en konstant bisværm, efter en ulykke og hvor en fys smadrede min nakke og gav mig 2 diskusprolapser….

Efter en klangmassage, blev hyletonen desværre højere og jeg turde ikke få mere klang behandling
NU har en clairvoyant sagt, det ville være godt at tage 1 uges retreat med yoga, mditation og lydhealing med klangskåle
Men jeg ved ikke om jeg tør, da lyden i mit hovede er ulidelig og jeg er bange for at det bliver endnu værre og højere i mit hovede

Har I nogen erfaringer med dette??
OG Kender I noget til hvem der laver sådanne kurser….??
På forhånd tak 🙏😇

Apr 11, 2020 • Posted by Shanti Bowl

Hi Kimo, thanks for your question! You can read more about the bowls we sell and their notes here: https://www.shantibowl.com/collections/all-products/products/tibetan-singing-bowl

Apr 11, 2020 • Posted by Kimo

Would like to be able to order 2 bowls, one with a G tone, and one with an E-flat tone. How do I ensure I receive bowls with the notes I want?

Mar 10, 2020 • Posted by Shanti Bowl

Hi Chamuel, thanks for your question! Glad to hear you are enjoying your Tibetan singing bowls. You can certainly make whatever modifications you want to your bowls. Our perspective is that any changes you make to your bowl are fine so long as they are done with positive intentions. I hope that helps!

Oct 15, 2019 • Posted by Shanti Bowl

Hi Alicia! Singing bowls were created for everyone to use and enjoy. We believe everyone in the world should be able to access its incredible healing potential. :)

Oct 15, 2019 • Posted by Alicia

I am wondering if using these is considered cultural appropriation.

Mar 10, 2020 • Posted by Chamuel

Hi amazing angels..
I have a set of Chakra Singing bowls
From nepal.. Pure.. Attuned by monks..
Hand made… Hand painted with Nepali hindi writing…. All according to musical harmonics full resonance calliberarion of all notes A B C D E F G…
My question is…. Can i ever ever remove the hand painted writings at home to reveal pure golden Colour.. Or can i hand paint gold Colour over writings to make all bowls golden in Colour..
Please let me know..
Love… Light…
Regards 💙 Chamuel 💜

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