How do you know how old the Tibetan singing bowls are?
At Bodhisattva, we list the approximate age of our singing bowls based on our evaluation of authentic wear on the metal, and date them “circa” their century of manufacture. “Circa” means “about”. Absent of a specific date inscribed on the piece, this term is used by art historians to indicate an approximate range 100 years before or after the manufacture. For example, if we label a bowl “18th Century, that means we estimate that the date of manufacture could have occurred either 100 years prior to, or after, the 1700s. It is important to note that even amongst art historians, experts sometimes disagree.
Bodhisattva’s system of dating singing bowls was developed based on the work of Indo-Tibetan bronze art historian Ulrich Von Schroeder, author of the authoritative volume “Indo-Tibetan Bronzes” published in 1981. In an attempt to discover a system of dating Info-Tibetan sculpture, Von Schroeder assembled a collection of thousands of photographs of bronze sculptures acquired from collectors and museums throughout the world. Starting with the known dated pieces, he identified them by stylistic characteristics and classified them together with other similar pieces. This body of work then showed similar levels of wear of the surface of the bronze consistent with known ritual practices in handling, such as touching and ritual washing. Similarly, as we know how singing bowls were used and played throughout the centuries, we can observe the wear on the metal surface and conjecture an approximate date range of manufacture.
Where do you get the Tibetan singing bowls?
Each of the Tibetan Singing Bowls offered by Bodhisattva have been personally selected by Shakti. Shakti draws from the same sources in the Himalayas as Bodhisattva has since the company was founded 1996, which include families that have been purveyors of singing bowls for four generations.
These families have a large network of collectors who travel throughout the Himalayas, traveling from village to village trading for the bowls.
The bowls are brought out of the mountains and consolidated, then the finest pieces are set aside for Shakti to make her selection according to age, harmonic balance, ease and smoothness of playing, sound volume and long sustain. Shakti tests hundreds of singing bowls each year to select the 1/2 percent which are awarded our Master-quality label.
Our contemporary singing bowls are made by one of these families, in Nepal.
Why are your bowls more expensive than bowls from other companies?
Simply put, we pay more. In order to have the top quality bowls saved for us, and in order to get first pick, we pay a premium. Therefore, our Himalayan collectors and consolidators are always happy to put aside the top pieces for us. After we have skimmed off the cream of the crop, the pick of the litter, the remaining bowls are then offered to other buyers. Keep in mind that we only select and buy the top 1/2 percent! We have always found that one gets what one pays for and are happy to pay a premium for the best bowls. The difference between the best, what we call “Master-quality®”, and the other 99.5% of the bowls that we reject is enormous.
Basically, we decided from the inception of our company that we would only offer the best to our customers. We have found that a bowl that is harmonically balanced will greatly help to put the user into a balanced state. Whereas the rejected 99.5% of bowls, which for the most part have become harmonically un-balanced or out of tune (due to changes in the metal caused by expansion and contraction over many years as a result of severe weather conditions in the Himalayas, changes in barometric pressure as a result of their now being at a much lower altitude, and metal fatigue as a result of being used for hundreds of years) can actually put the user into a discordant state. If you want to create harmony and balance then it’s wise to use a bowl that is harmonically balanced.
How do the sounds of the bowls relate to the chakras?
There are numerous sound healing systems, some based on the Vedic scale, which Westerners recognize as our diatonic scale, and other systems based on the meridians and chakras which are derived from Chinese and Bon (the indigenous people of Tibet) practices.
Bodhisattva honors all of these sound healing systems, and does not validate any one over the others. However, as we are based in the West, we list the Chakras based on the Western sound healing system for the convenience of the majority of our customers:
B = crown/ 7th chakra
A = third eye (pineal gland)/ 6th chakra
G = throat/ 5th chakra
F = heart/ 4th chakra
E = solar plexus/ 3rd chakra
D = sacral/ 2nd chakra
C = root/1st chakra
Please note that most of the Tibetan singing bowls produce more than one note (most produce between two and all seven notes of the Western scale) and therefore affect more than one chakra. Those who are doing healing work will want to acquire a set of bowls that will be able to affect all of the chakras. Please call Shakti about this as she is our expert in putting together matched sets.
What is the difference between Tibetan and "crystal" singing bowls?
The silicone glass, or as they are popularly called “crystal” bowls produce what is scientifically called a pure sine tone. Basically, this is one pure, and in the case of the crystal bowls, intense tone as opposed to the complex interweaving of three sets of double tones, rich in harmonics and microtones which are produced by the Tibetan singing bowls. Most people find that the Tibetan singing bowls have a mellower feel compared to the intense tones of the crystal bowls.
What's the difference between old bowls and new bowls?
Good question! Around 1997 new-made singing bowls started showing up in the Himalayan marketplace and subsequently in markets around the world. These bowls which now come in a variety of sizes, some with various Tibetan Buddhist design motifs, are made with a different alloy of metals than the antique bowls. We believe they consist of more iron as they are usually a heavier weight as compared to a same size antique bowl. They can usually be identified by their highly polished finish, though some are oxidized with a dark finish (a fake patina to appear old) and some also have either etched or bright gold design motifs.
The new-made LWTL type bowls are cast and spun on a lathe, as opposed to the antique bowls of the same type which were hand-forged. In the past two years hand-forged new bowls have been showing up in the market, and some are showing promise as far as reasonably good sound quality is concerned. However, we find that the antique bowls have a mellower and smoother sound. It’s like fine wine, ie. the age lends a mellowness to the sound.
How do I find a bowl that's right for me?
It’s a matter of deep listening, and hearing with your heart! It’s best to close your eyes as this will allow you to hear at a deeper level since the part of your brain which normally processes visual information will be freed up to concentrate more fully on auditory input. Feel the sounds and realize how they make you feel and where they are being felt in your body.
It’s a process of elimination. By comparing different bowls against each other you will discover which bowl or bowls are right for you. This is the bowl, or bowls, you should choose for your meditation and healing work as they are the ones in harmony with you.
Don’t worry. . . you will know when you hear your bowl! For more assistance, call us at (800) 588-5350 and we’ll be happy to help you through the process!
How do I select a bowl for a gift?
Follow the process mentioned above, keeping the person who will receive the gift in your mind/consciousness, or simply give them one of our Gift Certificates. As all our products come with a 30-day Money-Back Guarantee, the gift recipient can call us during this time to hear other bowls if they would like to exchange it for one that they like better.
By purchasing a bowl am I depriving Tibet of its cultural artifacts?
Absolutely not. In the original days the bowls were “discovered” by Westerns in Nepal, they were bowls mainly flowing out of the Tibetan Himalayas with the refugees fleeing Communist Chinese occupation. Hence, they became known as “Tibetan” singing bowls, even though they were used in cultures all over the Himalayas in countries such as India, Bhutan, Bangladesh. Most of the authentic antiques that still remain available today come from India and Nepal. Even countries such as China, Thailand, Viet Nam, Korea and Japan had their own singing bowl traditions that can be traced back over thousands of years.
Why are the bowls named what they are?
In the beginning of his research and collecting in the Himalayas, for lack of the Tibetan names, we simply named them according to their physical characteristics, hence the names Low-wall, Low-wall-thick-lip, and High-wall bowls. Since then, in an effort to find more bowls, local collectors searched in more remote parts of the Himalayas finding other shapes of bowls. We subsequently created allegorical names for these shapes in more Buddhist dharma terms, such as Buddha, Karma, Dharma, Bodhi, Lotus, and Mani.
The Buddha bowl is so named due to the fact that the earliest piece of Buddhist art found to date showing Buddha with his bowl, a stone carved bas relief (see image below) from Ghandara, circa 2nd to 3rd century CE, previously owned by Guiseppe, London, and called “The Offering of the Four Bowls”, depicts Gautama Buddha holding a deep bowl in his left hand while bestowing a blessing with his right. Underneath the bowl, which rests on his left thigh, folds of his robe arranged in a flowing wave may attest to the importance of the object and it’s mystical significance.
Do you have a store?
We have a showroom in West Los Angeles and we are by appointment only. If you are interested in making an appointment, please call in advance. US calls: 1-800-588-5350. If you are international and are planning a trip to Los Angeles, please call 1-310-838-5350.