Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Singing Bowls

Singing Bowls are also known as Himalayan Bowls because of where they were initially invented, though they were at one time produced in the majority of the eastern Asian countries. Specifically they were used in China, Japan, Korea, Tibet, India, and Nepal. Singing Bowls appear to be thin, polished bowls of an indeterminate metal. Though classified as bells they are not hung up, but are instead laid down with bottom resting on the ground.

Such Bowls were of spiritual significance to Buddhist priests while performing certain ceremonies, though they have fallen into disuse over the last few centuries. This is likely due to the fact that there are no written texts in the use of Singing Bowls. All we know is through oral recitation handed down from one priest to another. Should a priest suffer an abrupt illness or accident, there was no way for what he knew to be passed on. In such ways is vital information lost.

Singing Bowls get their name from the manner in which they are rung. Rather than being struck by a hammer or clapper, the rim of a singing bowl is rubbed with a wooden or plastic mallet. The friction creates a wonderfully resonant ringing tone. It seems as if the bowl is singing. Though they are not used much Buddhist priests anymore they have become highly prized among spiritualists as the tone these bowls create is said to be conducive to concentration and meditation. A few small studies have even proclaimed that the tones produced by Singing Bowls synchronizes the brainwaves of whoever is listening.

Singing Bowls can be anywhere from a few inches in size to larger than a full grown person. The method with which the original Singing Bowls were made is a lost art. We do know they were made of an alloy called Panchaloga which combined copper, tin, zinc, iron, silver, gold, and nickel. Modern day Singing Bowls are made in Korea, Japan, and Nepal. They owe their ringing sound to the materials with which they are made and can be purchased from certain vendors online, though they are not cheap.

It should be noted that the antique bowls are much preferred over the modern versions for several reasons. The first is that some early Singing Bowls can be traced back to the 8th century BC and are of great historical and monetary value. Inscriptions found on the inside and bottoms of the bowls can tell stories and recount histories lost to the modern day. Secondly Singing Bowls seem to develop a richer and sweeter sound as they age. Some of the oldest bowls create a sound so beautiful that people have been known to burst into tears hearing them. Finally, antique Singing Bowls are multiphonic. They produce a series of harmonic overtones by means of the complicated metallurgy that was used to make them, the particulars of which are unfortunately lost to us.

Modern day Singing Bowls only produce a single harmonic overtone similar to the way a crystal glass will hum when rubbed, though more pleasant to the ear. If one is a dedicated spiritualist than a Singing Bowl, even a new one, might be a wise investment. One can find beautiful hand made bowls at http://www.bodhisattva.com/. You’ll find they even have samples of the tone each bowl creates.

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