The mystery surrounding the origins of Singing Bowls persists. For centuries, monks and priests used the bowl almost exclusively in ancient religious practices and ceremonies - but we can't be sure that this was their original purpose. After all, while these bowls were popularized by Buddhist monks around 600 B.C, Monks are known to have used bowls for collecting and eating meals. It is not clear how they graduated from there, to creating vibrations that cleanse energy. Historians suspect the first bowls originated 2000 years before that in Ancient Mesopotamia! Their history has since been lost to the ravages of time, leaving us unable to confirm how they used their bowls. Sound, however, has always played an influential role in ancient rituals - from chanting to accompanying instruments. The fact that singing bowls produce a sonorous, soothing tone suggests that they were incorporated into ceremonies right from the time of their invention. 5000 years on, and singing bowls are as popular as ever, taking their place both at religious ceremonies and simple meditation and healing sessions.
Singing bowls and healing: A match made in heaven.
The East had always believed and practiced the power of spiritual and physiological healing. Cultures across countries share different versions of a central belief - a healthy body consists of balanced energy (or Chakra). These chakras can be manipulated in various ways when thrown out of balance, helping the stricken individual recover naturally and quickly.
Sound therapy is one such method. At its core, energy is believed to be composed of simple vibrations. For thousands of years, it was thought that manipulating sound around us to form frequencies that matched those of our bodies would help restore balance, and therefore health. If nothing else, sound proved to be relaxing when played at the right frequencies, generating brain activity and waves that actively help meditation and produce a host of positive side effects.
Just like all treatments, some are simply more effective than others. When singing bowls would have first started to appear in the East, the meditative tone it produced would have caught on in no time at all. Temples and monasteries across the region used bells and gongs all the time - the instrument in question wasn't always sacred. It was the sound it produced. The best Singing Bowls offered tones that reverberate richly through the air, waves of calming sound resonating outward from the palm of their hand. It wasn't long before these beautiful bowls started to appear in households in place of gongs, with large bowls produced for monasteries or therapy classes on occasion.
The types of Singing Bowls
Singing bowls can generally be played in one of two different ways - tapping or circling the bowl. The composition of the bowl and wand used can change or enhance the sound produced, with different materials producing different vibrations. Bowls today are being produced with everything from crystal to brass . Some traditional handmade singing bowls were produced with an alloy made from up to seven metals! But when it comes down to it, these antique singing bowls should be judged on the sound produced first - and aesthetic qualities after. Handmade Tibetan singing bowls are generally made from a mix of metals and produce some of the best vibrations and tones. Singing bowls can also be either handmade or sand cast. Although sand cast bowls do render satisfactory vibrations, they cannot match the soothing quality of handmade singing bowls. It takes teams of these talented artists to craft a single bowl, hammering a patty of the metal alloy into shape before smoothening the edges and working the interior. Experts will always be able to identify a handmade, hammered singing bowl from the indents and shaping of the metal. More importantly, Handmade Singing Bowls carry the good energy generated by the passion and hard work of the artisans, passed into your home.
The great crossover: How Singing Bowls went West.
As the world slowly opened up to easy travel, trips to the other half of the world became increasingly common. But before this was possible, this type of trip might have truly been a once-in-a-lifetime occasion - if even that. The secrets of the East were hard to access - and held mystery and mysticism for those accustomed to a different philosophy and way of life. However, secrets only remain hidden for so long. Meditation and yoga have always been attractive forms of therapy to the western world, with many making the trip to places like India to find meditative peace - not content with simply practicing at home.
Many people thought yoga was a passing fad - a strange ritual that was popular because it was different. But these are real practices with documented benefits. Over time, the healing offered by these ancient methods won over more people, and yoga was here to stay. With a growing belief in eastern medicine and practices, popular artifacts like singing bowls started to generate demand, often shipped across the world at great cost to ensure authenticity and quality.
Today, fortunately, one doesn't have to go to this extent of trouble to get an authentic antique bowl for themselves. Certain reputed sellers source the material for the bowl before turning it over to traditional artisans to craft. The best Tibetan singing bowls are shipped to customers no matter where they are - allowing you to procure a piece of history and culture at a fraction of the cost it would have taken just a few decades ago, while still supporting the artists behind the craft.