The different types of Singing bowls include Thadobati, Jambati, Naga, Mani, Ultabati, Manipuri, Lingam, Remuna, and others. They differ in their shape, size, style, tone, quality, and have unique characteristics. Some authentic Himalayan singing bowls from Nepal, Tibet, and India are more than 500 years old.
Singing Bowls vibrate and produce a rich, deep tone when played. The vibration and sound have incredible spiritual and healing properties. This ancient Himalayan tradition and spiritual practices have roots in Tibetan Buddhism. Buddhist monks have used these bowls in meditation since ancient times.
Tibetan Singing Bowls get rubbed with a mallet, to produce a haunting sound. Practitioners believe that these singing bowls cure various illnesses and help to maintain mental stability. Alloy metals, including copper, lead, silver, tin, iron, or gold are the common elements used in making these singing bowls. Pure crystal singing bowls are also getting popular these days.
Furthermore, the sound produced by these different types of singing bowls have a range of five octaves, from high to low tones. There are various shops around the ancient city of Kathmandu where you can find antique singing bowls. Read further for the detailed description of the various singing bowl types and their unique features.
Singing Bowl Types and Their Features
Thadobati singing bowls have high walls, flat bottoms, and straight sides. The lips are plain and undecorated and respond well when played with a mallet. The Thadobati bowls are the ancient bowls available and date back to at least the 15th century. These are the most popular and unique singing bowl types available in the market.
Besides that, the Thadobati bowls have different decorative markings as well. The most common Thadobati bowls have a bottom diameter slightly smaller than the opening diameter. They are deep up to 5″, and can range up to 9″ diameter sideways. Some Thadobati bowls have punched and etched decorative markings.
Moreover, the tone of the Thadobati can range over four octaves. Thick small Thadobati can go up to the range of 6th octave while thinner large bowls can go up to the bottom of the 3rd octave. These small or medium-sized Thadobati bowls cost around US $60 to US $560.
Jambati singing bowls are bowls with curved walls, flat bottoms, and inward-facing lips. They have hammer marks which makes them quite appealing. Jambati singing bowls have classical etching lines on the outside rim and circular markings at the inside-bottom. Ancient Jambati have no lines as they get worn off from repeated use.
Moreover, they generally play 2nd or 3rd octave but their range is of four different octaves. They get used for grain storage, which preserves them and keeps them in great condition. You also need a mat or cushion to place and play the Jambati singing bowl.
Furthermore, Jambati bowls respond well when played by a mallet and are the heaviest of all-singing bowls. These large singing bowls require 3 to 4 craftsmen to forge. Since they have a large size and require maximum labor, their cost ranges around US $640 to US $8,800.
Ultabaati are large, heavy bowls over 7 ” and are similar to Jambati. They are quite easy to play and can produce the lowest two octaves. Ultabati bowls can produce OM sound which is of spiritual significance in Buddhist practice. They can also produce fountains.
In Ultabati, the side of the bowl gets curved under the rim. They have prominent hammer marks and the etching lines are similar to Jambati bowls. Ultabati also has low tones similar to Jambati. They have black, or darkened outside walls and bright in the interior.
Moreover, Ultabati bowl is an excellent choice if you are planning to buy a single bowl and have a bigger budget. They are expensive and cost you around US $700 to US $2,000.
Naga or Pedestal
Naga singing bowls or Naga pedestal bowls have a chalice-like appearance. They are responsive but sometimes the sound produced gets distorted by the loose pedestal base. The thin walls and round shape are not conducive with sonic depth.
Moreover, Naga bowls have a rounded bottom and an attached base. The sound produced has a large range that can go from third to sixth octave. These Pedestal bowls are generally thin and small in size although some older ones are quite thick. The size of these bowls range from 4 to 10 inches.
Antique Naga bowls must have a ceremonial or sacred purpose as they get found in a great condition. Many specialists believe that the Naga bowls got used as an offering bowl due to the pedestal. Inscriptions on some of the older Naga bowls indicate ceremonial use as well. They cost around US $160 to US $640.
Mani bowls have an inward-facing lip, flat bottom, thick walls, and are wider in the middle. They are small to medium-sized and are also referred to as Mudra singing bowls. You can find some decorative markings although older Mani balls do not have them due to wear and tear.
Ancient Mani singing bowls date back to the late 16th to 19th centuries. These bowls were generally given as wedding gifts in the olden days. Mani bowls have a very high tone, although they are large and heavy. The sound of the bowl is generally in the 5th octave or the 6th octave.
Moreover, they are short and stout and easy to play with a ringing stick. Many specialists believe that they might have got used for ceremonial, sacred, or ritual purposes. Mani bowls cost around US $270 to US $675.
Lingam bowls are shallow and have a protrusion in the center. The peak in the bowl makes a flat bottom with a navel-like shape. It has a unique sound due to this unique structure and can be quite difficult to play. Lingam embodies the Hindu god Shiva. Lingam bowls get used in rituals and also for medicinal purposes.
Moreover, ancient lingam bowls have a distinct rounded style, similar to Jambati. The Lingham feature can also get incorporated into other bowl styles including Manipuri. A genuine old lingam must have consistent metal at the bottom to build a strong lingam. These different types of singing bowls have a high value in the market.
Furthermore, a modern bowl will have thinner metal and discoloration. The medium-sized Lingam bowls are quite rare and authentic and can cost around US $400 to US $1,900. However, you should check properly as there are many fake Lingam bowls in the market.
Manipuri singing bowls are small or medium-sized with shallow insides and splayed rims. they are easy to play and produce the primary tones. These are the best types of singing bowls for beginners. Manipuri is the original singing bowls introduced to Western travelers in the 1970s.
Moreover, the name Manipuri comes from the Northeastern state of Manipur in India which is a center of brass objects. These bowls were extensively used which lead to thick etched bowls turned into thin smooth bowls with no markings. Manipuri bowls have hammer marks and fine craftsmanship and they are quite smoothly made.
Furthermore, Manipuri bowls have a wide range of sizes, and thicknesses. They have primary tones and can produce lower second octaves to the 5th. These singing bowls have an exquisite sound. They are quite affordable, and their cost ranges around US $75 to US $425.
Remuna singing bowls have smooth thin walls. These stout singing bowls have appealing decorative artwork and are easy to play. Remuna bowls are similar to Thadobati in shape and timbre. They have a similar soundscape and you can combine with Thadobati in sets.
Remuna has inward sloping walls along with a flat bottom and has intricate artwork. They have deep etching with circles inside and out, and also occasionally on the bottom. Remuna bowls have two textures outside, and a darker and rougher bottom half.
Moreover, Remuna have the most beautiful artworks among all the singing bowls, but they get worn away after long use. These different types of singing bowls cost around US $235 to US $635.
Crystal singing bowls are modern and grew in popularity in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Quartz crystal singing bowls are of clear, frosted, mineral fusion, or a handled bowl type. These singing bowl types are mass-produced for commercial purposes and not available in Nepal.
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Moreover, they have a variety of sizes and tones, and can play 3rd, 4th, and 5th octaves. Frosted bowls produce the loudest sounds whereas the clear bowls produce clear but low sounds.
Hence, these were the different types of singing bowls available in the market. You can choose the best singing bowl based on your desire and requirements.
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