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Antique Singing Bowls

What makes antique premium quality singing bowls almost unique in the world of collectibles is they have antiquity, beauty, and present-day utility. Their allure is so strong and supply so limited that an entire industry of modern bowl making has developed to meet the demand. Best Singing Bowls only handles antique bowls, any Tibetan singing bowl for sale you purchase from us is guaranteed to be from centuries past.

Genuine antique singing bowls were all hand hammered, an arduous process requiring skill and perseverance. The artist would start with a flat circular piece of metal and shape it gradually into a bowl. The quality standards of the time required a smooth finish which meant many blows of the hammer. Fine light blows would be needed for the proper finish. After shaping would come adornment which could range from simple hammer slashes to elaborate hand etching. This artwork would wear away with use over a very long period of time.

How Many Old Singing Bowls Were There?

By definition there is a finite supply of hand made, antique Tibetan singing bowls of all qualities. How many were originally made and how many have survived into the present era? I am going to indulge in some speculation here.

Singing bowls, or as they were known then, household bronze bowls, were common in Nepal and in adjoining countries like Tibet, Bhutan and Northern India. These bowls were very important possessions, there are records of them being gifts in weddings and passed on to others. In some old photos of common people and markets you can see brass bowls. Estimates of the population of Nepal in 1900 are around 3 million so you could imagine there being 10 million people living in the area where singing bowls were a part of the culture.

Based on the fact that these bowls were at one time staples in both the home and the market, I would say well over ten million bowls were made over the past thousand years.

Even with all the old bowl makers gone and new substitutes coming into the market I believe several million old bowls existed in the Himalayas as recently as the 1980’s when they first started to come to the attention of more than antiquities specialists in the West. Out of all those ancient singing bowls that survived to the modern era I think it likely the total number of exceptional quality singing bowls was only a few hundred thousand.

Antique Tibetan Singing Bowls

Based on accounts of early travelers in Tibet it would appear that monasteries could have hundreds or even thousands of Tibetan singing bowls that would be used in daily practice and ceremony.

Not all of the Tibetan Buddhist schools would use the sound of bowls but all monasteries would have some singing bowls in their possession. Antique bronze bowls would also be used as butter lamps and in general household use.

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There were 7,000 monasteries in Tibet in the mid 20th century so the supply of bowls including Tibetan singing bowls specifically made for sound healing was quite high.

Antique Bowls are Disappearing

Singing bowls have been exported from India and Nepal for forty years. In the 1980’s the predominant singing bowl style exported were the Manipuri. In the 1990s Jambati became a part of the mix. The largest volume of singing bowls exported was in the first decade of this century. The biggest sellers were sending hundreds of thousands of bowls out each year. That will never happen again, the supply is no longer there. The biggest Indian exporters of that time have left the antique market for the easier profits of new bowls.

Based on what I’ve seen the supply of Manipuri singing bowls, that style in both Nepal and India is close to played out. Quality Manipuri singing bowls are coming out of the countryside in a trickle and the larger double thickness examples that were the staple in the 80s are quite rare. The most common singing bowl now is the straight sided Thadobati. Those, too have changed in character over the years. Extra thick Thadobati singing bowls, ones that can be reasonably dated as hundreds of years old are also much less abundant than in the past. Mani style bowls, always rare have changed over the years.  Very broad rims, the oldest style, used to be common, now they are maybe 10% of what is in the marketplace.

 

The Window of Opportunity – Increasing Value

The one truth we all know — anything that is valued globally, value increases globally. What this says to me is that there is a window of opportunity in singing bowls and at some point that window will close. It was the perception of this window that moved me to create BestSingingBowls.com.

Spectacular Jambati and thinner Thadobati singing bowls are still abundant but nobody knows how long this supply will last. Limited amounts of singing bowls that used to be common are available but prices are up and high quality harder to find.

Trading Ancient Objects for Bits of Modernity

One interesting question is why are these antique singing bowls for sale being sold if they have been in families for generations. The short answer is these bowls are now being used for very mundane purposes, eating, cooking, carrying and storage, and modern alternatives from stainless steel to Tupperware are better suited to those tasks than heavy more easily breakable brass. Villagers are happy to get cash in hand for old bowls and plates to purchase better performing modern replacements, which changes the landscape relative to the history of singing bowls.

From a Western perspective, these singing bowls are part of the cultural heritage of Nepal, in Nepal, they are regarded as old and impractical (except by dealers who understand their export value).

If it were not for the export trade many of these singing bowls would simply be lost, broken in use or gone to the melting pot for their metallic value. The recent run up in the price of copper to $10 per kilo had many scrap metal dealers scouring the countryside for heavy metallic objects.

The Flow of History

Throughout the Himalayas the transition to modernity is having wrenching consequences for traditional societies. A great book on this subject is Ancient Futures by Helana Norberg-Hodge.

The transition of rural society from a subsistence and barter economy to one with cash has the consequence of the movement of objects with cash value from the rural poor to those with money. There was little incentive to move things on when cash was of little value but now that there are many things one can acquire only with cash, possessions are looked at in a different light. The desire for these modern objects is the primary force moving the singing bowls from households in the Himalayas to the internet in the first world.

Some historical context for the use of Himalayan singing bowls

How to estimate the age of an old Himalayan bowl

The interesting parallel history of old US coins in the 60’s and old singing bowls today

What antique singing bowls might be worth in the future

What Our Customers Say

Jae Hwan KIMJae Hwan KIM
06:08 12 Jun 24
I just received the products. It feels new to hear the sound of singing bowls right in front of me that I only heard on the Internet.Thanks to you, I have a precious experience!!!Also, with your recommendation, my singing bowls set has become perfect and rich. Your patience and service could not be better!!Thank you very, very much!!!
Bob MetivierBob Metivier
17:26 09 May 24
Ryan, your L6 medium mallet is amazing! Your attention to particular needs in detail is the reason I decided to make my purchases with you.
Aria ThomeAria Thome
17:28 22 Apr 24
Ryan is absolutely amazing at his craft. He cares so deeply that you get matched with the right bowl(s) and will go out of his way to make this happen for you. His knowledge is unsurpassable and purchasing from him allows you to tap into his bottomless education and knowledge!!
Zara D'SouzaZara D'Souza
15:43 03 Apr 24
My entire experience was so seamless. The website is so flexible and easy to navigate. For anyone looking to build a bowl collection, this is the right place to go. I highly recommend reaching out to Ryan. He was so helpful and supportive in guiding me and making sure I make the right decisions. His suggestions were spot on and Im glad I trusted him!! The shipping and tracking was really great as well. The bowls were well packaged when shipped to me. I got an email with the tracking info and Ryan was a great communicator during this phase as well. In the end, I am very happy with the set I acquired.
Zachary NewtonZachary Newton
16:32 14 Mar 24
You are in excellent hands here with Ryan if you are just embarking on your singing bowl journey.I came knowing I wanted a deep resonant bowl or two when I initially reached out. This began a months' long dialogue with Ryan, who was nothing but patient and generous with his time, sending me recordings of additional bowls not on the website and answering my many questions. Over this period, I spent hours listening to dozens of bowls, beginning to figure out what resonated most with me and expanding my search from there. I ended up putting together a small set. When I found a few bowls I was pretty sure I wanted to be the core of this set, Ryan offered to put them on hold for me while I spent some more time listening to additional bowls. So whether you know exactly what you want, or you just have a vague inclination and see yourself at the beginning of a journey--like I was--you have come to a good place.When I finally made up my mind and ordered my bowls, they arrived impeccably packed and already sounding familiar after having spent months listening to their recordings. I have been very happy with them. In the months since, I have spent many hours playing them, and have even added a couple more. I am still on that Journey I began a year ago, and I continue to value the care and patience that Ryan puts into his work as a guide along my path.
Philip MartinPhilip Martin
23:15 08 Mar 24
I heard about singing bowls many years ago but stored their existence in memory. I recently heard what they sounded like on a recording, which piqued my interest. I began looking into where I could obtain some of these bowls and found many options on the internet. I decided on Best Singing Bowls. The website has many different bowls that allow searching for specific notes, octaves, types of bowls, and much more. The website has an image of the bowl and two soundtracks that let you hear what the bowl sounds like. I found this very helpful and received help from Best Singing Bowls on how to play the bowls, the types of ringers and mallets, and the bowl's history. I asked many questions because I knew little about singing bowls. Delivery of the orders came exceptionally fast. I will look to Best Singing Bowls for future additions and ask for the promptly answered guidance I found immeasurably helpful. I found the entire experience very straightforward and seamless. The website has a vast amount of information on the many tabs related to singing bowls.
SvetaSveta
03:56 12 Feb 24
This was the best shopping experience I have ever had online. Ryan has provided an exceptional customer service. He replied to all my questions timely and his suggestions helped me to find the perfect addition to my set. I am very satisfied with the quality and the sound of my newly acquired ancient singing bowls. I received them within a few days of the purchase. Thank you, Ryan!
Jim ManganiJim Mangani
13:32 14 Dec 23
Ryan provides outstanding customer service, quality bowls, and every accessory you might need at highly competitive prices. I've purchased his precision mallet set which is a must for anybody serious about getting the most out of their instruments, in addition to a number of other accessories. I recently purchased a large jambati and Ryan answered all my questions quickly and courteously. He has always shipped items quickly and is a man of his word. You can feel confident doing business with him. On top of this, he has one of the best websites in the business for sorting through his expansive inventory. If you're considering buying anything from him, you should not hesitate!
“Best Singing Bowls is absolutely the right name for Ryan’s collection! It’s been many occasions for many years now that I have not only found bowls with beautiful sounds and energy in Ryan’s collection - but also the kind of bowls that you know the instant you ring them that they are special - unique - with a sound and a power beyond normal understanding. That’s the beauty and the magic of singing bowls. And on top of that Ryan is the best to guide you - always withimmediate precise response and he provides a fast and secure shipment. I can highly recommend Ryan and Best Singing Bowls.” - Shanti inga
Mojca StudenMojca Studen
07:03 22 Nov 23
The very experience of choosing the singing bowls was a pleasure; not only are the audio recordings of the bowls extremely high quality, the collector Ryan himself kindly offered to help me a lot in choosing the right bowls.The shipment arrived quickly, even across the Atlantic.I am absolutely delighted with the singing bowls I bought! The richness of sound and resonances is extraordinary. And all this for a fairly affordable price.Ryan thank you!
Laurie LowenLaurie Lowen
12:29 03 Nov 23
Ryan will answer every question that you have honestly and knowledgeably.He has gathered the best and largest collection of antique Tibetan Singing Bowls in the world.He has a huge inventory that is all cataloged with musical chakra note(s), vibration in hertz, condition, decoration, inscription and includes actual sound for you to listen to the bowl being used with a beater and with a wand. He has tons of wands and beaters to choose from, including those handmade by Frank Perry the world’s leading authority on Himalayan bowls in England.I started with one bowl and was so happy with it and what it did for my life, that over the past two years, I now have six bowls that I have gotten from Ryan. I love every single bowl and play them all every day just for me.These Tibetan bowls are way more powerful than the crystal bowls that are in vogue. Crystal bowls are machine made and have no history. The bowls that Ryan collects and sells are full of old wisdom and energy and years of use. If you listen while you play one, you will receive information and understanding and they will actually tell you how to play them and talk to you. I am a shamanic drum practitioner for the last 30 years and these are one of the best tools in addition to drums for healing that I have ever used. If you are ready to open yourself and receive healing and peace….get one of these bowls. I can guarantee you this as that has happened to me. You will find there is one there that is calling you. Blessings to whoever reads this🙏
Lisa BushmanLisa Bushman
21:26 17 Jan 23
Ryan has helped me develop a set of singing bowls for my sound studio in OH. He has a large selection of bowls and they have great sound quality. Love working with him!
at01musicat01music
19:22 28 Nov 22
I have been collecting antique singing bowls for over 10 years and just recently discovered Best Singing Bowls’ online store. In a short time, it has become my go-to for finding new bowls that add interest to my singing bowl arrangements. BSB’s inventory is quite large and includes types of antique bronze bowls with different geometries and thicknesses I haven’t seen or listened to before.At first, I was drawn just to familiar jambati and thadobati bowls, but after exploring other possibilities I have become a fan of the otherly-appearing trapezoid bowl. The first one I selected sounds cold as steel and reminds me of the clang of a temple bell I heard every day I was in Varanasi 24 years ago. Another small trapezoid I found has a tone similar to its thadobati companions and contributes a well-tuned 5th octave G#, the new crowning high note of my bowl set.My singing bowl experience has also been enlivened by the Best Singing Bowls Precision Mallet sets. The weights and hardness’s of the mallet heads are designed to produce varying tone colors for small, medium and large bowls. The length and balance of the stick handles make it easier for me to reach bowls and strike them accurately in a timely way with less effort than before. They are fun to use and have mostly replaced my use of other strikers. I love to play the bowls and listen to their tones and harmonics interacting to create kaleidoscopic, resonant patterns that gradually fade away into silence when playing stops. For me, it is an exquisite and deeply comforting sound (and no sound) experience.As others mention, the sound recordings and detailed physical descriptions on the website make it easy to compare bowls and select one that best suits your needs. I’ve also found BSB’s customer support to be very responsive and helpful. Pricing is quite reasonable and return policies are buyer-friendly. Highly recommended!
Dylan TweneyDylan Tweney
18:12 23 Jun 22
Ryan has an amazing collection of singing bowls (which I mostly use as bells) and he's really helpful at providing personalized advice and guidance on which ones to select. I have bought two bowls from him so far and they are magnificent: they produce a variety of resonant sounds with long sustain and great complexity. I also really appreciate his efforts to provide accurate descriptions and high-quality sound files for each bowl.
Mel JonesMel Jones
15:57 13 Apr 22
Just wanted to say thank you for the speedy delivery. The bowls are both wonderful and a great addition to my small but happy collection. Appreciate the service.
Sara JennenSara Jennen
13:12 05 Apr 22
I was looking for a singing bowl. Started by looking at new bowls that were priced ridiculously and were obviously factory produced. I stumbled upon this site and filled out the contact form. Ryan got back to me within a few hours. He travels the world to collect antique bowls. He is obviously knowledgeable and passionate about the work he does. After a conversation where he learned a little about me and my intended use of the bowls, I ended up letting him select 3 for me from his extensive collection. I received manipuri bowls that sound magnificent. I have already begun incorporating them into my yoga and meditation practice. I intend to add to my collection over time. I hope that someday I can visit California to select my bowls in person....or maybe even Nepal;) Sat Nam.
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Huge selection of antique singing bowls with detailed information and two sound clips.
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