Himalayan singing bowls, also known as Tibetan singing bowls, are usually found in various regions across the Himalayas and northern India. It is thought that they made their way into Tibet along with the Buddhist monks, as Buddhism made it’s way from India. However, they were used by the pre Buddhist Bon tribe of Tibet, primarily used for rituals and ceremonies, later leading it’s way into Buddhist temples. As we know, contemporary western uses of singing bowls have made its way into alternative holistic therapies, such as sound therapy.
Antique bowls consist of multiple harmonics and are hand beaten from a combination of seven metals (although some mention twelve) including meteorite, gold, silver, iron, copper, lead and mercury. Later, bowls generally consisted of five metals removing gold and silver.
A good description of the instrument can be found in “Ocean of Sound” (Toop D. 2004), originally taken from Sound Stories, a collection of written soundscapes by published by sound artist Phill Dadson.
“I’m struck by an unusual sound I can’t place. Cascading pitches of watery,
metallic voices, sort of bird – like: sometimes clear sometimes blurred: close yet distant: golden but earthy: echoing and resonating throughout the temple…” 1
1D Toop, Ocean of Sound, Serpents Tail, London 1995, p.83