believe that metal working artisans perfected the techniques
for making Tibetan Singing Bowls nearly 2,500 years ago!
Although there is not a lot of written history to
trace the origin of these wonderful objects of art,
fortunately, there is a rich tradition of oral history that
tells us that the bowls came to Tibet from India at the same
time that Buddhism was introduced to Tibet by the great
Buddhist master, Padmasambhava.
Therefore, the history of Tibetan Singing Bowls goes
back to the 8th century A.D.
One of the most fascinating
things about Tibetan Singing Bowls is that the quality of
sound of the ancient bowls cannot be reproduced today.
In fact, this is a lost art.
Analysis of old bowls reveals that they were made
from a twelve metal alloy consisting of silver, nickel,
copper, zinc, antimony, tin, lead, cobalt, bismuth, arsenic,
cadmium, and iron. Legend
has it that some of the ancient bowls included metals taken
Why are they called "singing bowls"?
Very simply because they can be made to sing.
The musical quality of Tibetan Singing Bowls can be
explored by holding the bowl in the palm of your hand so
that it is free to vibrate.
Next, run a wooden mallet along the rim of the bowl
lightly. Striking the side of the bowl will also produce sound, much
like ringing a bell.
The vibration of the bowl produces a distinct sound in the much the same
way that a crystal goblet would if you ran a wet finger
around the glass. The
pitch depends on the size of the bowl and the thickness of
the metal. Bowls
typically range in size from five inches to thirteen inches
in diameter. You
can increase or decrease the sounds by rotating the mallet
around the outside of the bowl faster.
The singing quality is an important part of the Tibetan Singing Bowl's
Buddhism, and in Hinduism, sound is an important part of
spiritual practice. In
the Buddhist doctrine, there are nine methods of realization
of reaching enlightenment.
The seventh way was sound.
For this reason, the sound produced by the bowl was
used by Buddhist practitioners as part of their religious
rituals and music.
The sound made by the bowls is both captivating and calming, and the
bowls are frequently used as a meditation aid.
One reason for this is that the sound emitted by the
bowls seems to instantly instill a sense of trance-like
Tibetan Singing Bowls were also used during meditation
practice to reinforce one of the most important concepts of
Buddhism, that of being "mindful", of staying in
the present moment.
The person in charge of the meditation would occasionally strike the
bowl on the side during the meditation, producing a
bell-like tone capable of filling a temple.
The sound would act as a reminder to those meditating
to remain mindful and in fact, it probably helped
practitioners stay awake and not drift off to sleep during
longer meditation sessions!
Sound and vibrations are also associated with
methods of alternative medicine associate good health with a
person being "in balance".
The sound made by Tibetan Singing Bowls may be used
in certain alternative therapies to create vibrations
thought to help bring harmony to a person who is not in
There is some scientific basis to this theory. It is thought that the tones produced by Tibetan Singing
Bowls affects left brain/right brain synchronization, which
would create a balancing effect.
Today, craftsman in India work to revive the ancient techniques for
making the bowls, even though the original craft has been
lost to us. For
instance, Tibetan Singing Bowls are made in Nepal in the
Katmandu Valley. These
bowls are made of a special alloy of bronze, iron and zinc. Tibetan Singing Bowls are beautiful and enchanting, making
them a popular collector's item among Buddhists and