Far more than a dish and definitely not for cereal, when these bowls are played they sing a long and haunting song. Singing bowls come in various shapes and metals.
Traditionally, singing bowls were made from seven metals, ranging from gold to lead, each said to symbolize a different planet in the solar system. A metalsmith mixes different metals, adjusts the depth of the bowl, and evens the finish to create a unique sound for each one.
Little is known about the exact origin of singing bowls, but objects with similar sounds have a long history in Asia.
Recorded as early as 2000BC, ringing stones were valuable rocks that would make a beautiful sound when struck with a mallet. A fountain bowl resembled singing bowls in shape, but rather than being desired for sound, it was desired for the designs created in the water it contained when its side was struck.
It was not until 1100 BC that the first singing bowl was said to be created. Used in Eastern traditions, such as meditation, their sound is used to signify the beginning or ending of a time of silence and thought. They are also enjoyed for the harmonious noise they create.
To start the song, a tool is used to strike the side of the bowl creating a bell-like sound or held firmly along the side while rotating around the edge to make a longer “singing” noise. These tools can be a multitude of shapes and sizes, though they most often look like sticks. Normally made of wood, they can also be covered in cloth or canvas for different variations in the way the bowl is played and the sound that it makes.
The sides of singing bowls are often inscribed with ancient sayings or beautifully designed patterns. These etchings reference the culture and history of the bowls.
Hand-hammered and meticulously made they are truly an art of sight and sound.
The next time you take a break from your hectic day with a yoga session or an hour of meditation consider adding a singing bowl. It will not only bring beauty and tranquility, it will enhance your practice with the richness of tradition.