Singing bowls have become very popular these days. The demand for singing bowls is growing rapidly in the market. They are easy to find, use, and are unique in designs and functions. The singing bowl comes with a mallet and a cushion. The mallet is used to play the bowl and the cushion is to rest the singing bowl.
Singing bowls are classified into two types based on how they are made; handmade singing bowls and machine-made singing bowls. There is a vast difference in the sound produced by machine-made singing bowls and that produced by handmade singing bowls. In this blog, we will compare the two kinds of singing bowls, and elaborate on the pros and cons of each.
About singing bowls:
The singing bowl usually comes with a stout, wooden stick. When the stick strikes the bowl or rubs around the bowl in circular motions, a deep and rich-toned sound comes from it. The sound and vibrations work as a kind of music therapy for people. There are many theories and studies about why singing bowls are considered therapeutic. All of these usually suggest that:
- The bowls produce vibrations that affect the mind and the body.
- The sound of the bowls creates brain waves that induce deep relaxation in people.
- They may give the same benefits as listening to soothing and meditative music.
Ancient sound therapy uses pulsing sounds, drumming, singing, and clapping for spiritual and health purposes.
Today, many businesses revolve around sound therapy and healing through music in Nepal or Tibet and all over the world. The ‘healers’ believe that the music from the bowls releases pressure from various spiritual focal centres (chakras) in our bodies. It cleanses our souls and relieves stress, anxiety, depression, and insomnia. It also helps regulate the menstrual cycle. The practitioners usually have many students and visitors come to them to get away from their materialistic and busy lives for a day of calm and serenity.
Handmade singing bowls:
Handmade singing bowls are the ‘real’ singing bowls generally made under the full moon (this type of singing bowl is called the full moon singing bowl) by artisans without using any sort of machine or modern equipment.
Singing bowls are traditionally hand-made from seven metals with each metal believed to represent a heavenly body or a planet: Gold (Sun), Silver (Moon), Mercury (Mercury), Copper (Venus), Iron (Mars), Tin (Jupiter) and Lead (Saturn). These metals are smelted and purified prior to being cast, reheated, and hammered into form. The sound and vibrations made by these bowls depend largely on the size of the bowl and the proportion of their ingredient metals.
Machine-made singing bowls:
Machine-made singing bowls are metal bowls processed by a machine or any sort of modern equipment. They are made in the same way as handmade singing bowls; the composing metals are smelted and purified prior to being cast, reheated, and made into form. The difference is that these singing bowls are mass-made with machines and little to no human skills are required.
Handmade singing bowls are worth the price:
Handmade singing bowls need more work, effort, and time to create than machine-made singing bowls. Artisans collect all resources, manually form the proportions, and purify them for processing. They smelt the metal themselves and cast it. To bring the final form, the composite material is hammered down and sculpted into place. This takes a lot of time and patience. As a result, they are a little more expensive in comparison to machine-made singing bowls.
Although machine-made singing bowls are cheaper in cost than handmade singing bowls, they aren’t really in demand like handmade singing bowls. This is because handmade singing bowls are very alluring and eye-catching. They are authentic and the sound produced by them is deep and rich. Both handmade and machine-made singing bowls are played in the same way; rubbing or striking the mallet on the rim of the bowl. The friction of wooden mallets on the metal surfaces creates beautiful overtones, that are rich and healing. The vibrations are richer, but the overall playing experience is sweet. Most singing bowls can be played as per the wish of the listener to different pitches and notes.
In contrast, machine-made singing bowls are usually very stiff-sounding. They aren’t made with as much care and attention to detail as handmade singing bowls. They are made with business and sales in mind, and the manufacturers really don’t care much for the sound it creates as long as it looks good and sellable. The pitch and notes cannot be adjusted as per the player’s or listener’s wish, or at least not as much as handmade singing bowls. They sound dull. You can hear the difference between handmade and machine-made singing bowls by the warmth and brightness of the tone. So, machine-made singing bowls do not offer the flexibility and freedom like handmade singing bowls do in terms of playing.
Finishing of the product:
Another way to distinguish handmade singing bowls from machine-made is the finishing and polishing. Handmade singing bowls are covered with small pit marks or dents where the hammer hits the surface. Since they are made one at a time, they aren’t regular in size and shape. The outer surface is not smooth or soft. This kind of human error makes each bowl unique and gives each one a personality. As per the demand, the artists can engrave the bowl with mantras or inscription drawings, and so on.
Machine-made singing bowls are made with different techniques and modern equipment. As a result, they are wonderfully clear and consistent in shape, size, and print. The surface is smooth and uniform. There are no dent marks since they aren’t hammered as handmade singing bowls are. They sound okay, but not as clear and rich as real singing bowls. They are also often dressed up with chemical etching.
Handmade vs machine-made singing bowls; which one should you buy?
The price of singing bowls depends on a lot of factors; thickness, proportion of materials, engravings, and so on. It also depends upon the size of the bowl and the place you are buying from. Buying from local artists will cost less than buying bowls from tourist destinations from well-established, modern shops.
But obviously, the sound of the singing bowl is what matters at the end. Due to the rich and soothing sound of handmade singing bowls, they are preferred for spiritual healing purposes, meditation, therapies, and other medicinal purposes. As for machine-made singing bowls, they are generally more fit for producing music and decoration purposes.
Handmade singing bowls carry traditional values and are well built. So, if you want a bonafide piece of the traditional art form, you should handmade singing bowls. For practitioners and users looking to use singing bowls regularly for spiritual and meditational purposes, handmade bowls are the way to go. But they cost a handful and a half.
So, if you are only looking to enrich your antique collection and want a singing bowl for more decorative purposes and less practical reasons, you can buy mass-made, machine-made singing bowls. They cost much less, look great, and sound decent for occasional use.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that handmade singing bowls are better in terms of sound, build, and potency. And machine-made singing bowls are better if you want them for aesthetic purposes. Both types of singing bowls are unique and good in their own way. You need to be clear of what you need a singing bowl for and then make a choice based on that.
Singing bowls are truly healing, spiritually and psychologically. Learn more about singing bowls from our blogs. If you wish to buy a singing bowl handmade in Nepal by talented artisans, browse our collection. We take orders and ship internationally.