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Singing Bowl Types

Different Types of Singing Bowls

Jambati

Jambati style singing bowl

Jambati bowls often have visible hammermarks. There are classical etching lines on Jambati bowls – below the rim on the outside and circular markings inside at the bottom. Some very old Jambati have no lines left, they have been worn off from use. Many older Jambati were made with a flattened rim, very old examples can have a broad flat rim with its own set of etched lines. These have become quite rare in recent years. Jambati bowls were often used for relatively clean purposes such as grain storage so bowls hundreds of years old can have a high level of preservation. The Jambati singing bowl type, especially darker ones possibly indicating the presence of thunderbolt metal (iron), was preferred by Tibetans.

The vast majority of Jambati are in the 2nd and 3rd octave with an occasional small extra thick bowl ringing at the very low end of the middle octave.

Thadobati

Thadobati style singing bowls

Thado means straight. Thadobati singing bowl types are defined by relatively vertical sides and flat bottoms. Some Thadobati singing bowls are rounder then others however the most common ones have a bottom diameter only slightly smaller than the diameter of the opening. Thadobati singing bowls are relatively deep, up to 5″, while a 9″ diameter is about the largest size you will see in this style.

Thadobati style may be the most ancient common singing bowl, with simple thick examples dating back well over 500 years. These thick old singing bowls will weigh more than a similar diameter Jambati singing bowl. The Thadobati style, especially those with a high copper content and a golden color were preferred by Nepalese.

Thadobati singing bowls usually have no discernible lip overhang and be quite thin from extensive abrasive cleaning over the centuries. Some Thadobati come with interesting punched and etched decorative markings. You could say there are different sub-styles of Thadobati bowls based on recurrent marking patterns but there is no commonly accepted nomenclature to describe these styles. You can see some fanciful names for these styles but this is modern marketing, not tradition.

Singing bowls in the Thadobati style range in tone over four octaves, the widest range of any style. It would be possible to put together a hundred bowl set, all with discernably different strike tones. Thick small Thadobati bowls can be very high well up into the 6th octave while thinner large bowls go down to the bottom of the 3rd. A few rare examples can ring in the upper ranges of the very low 2nd octave.

Remuna

Another type of Tibetan singing bowl is Remuna. Remuna singing bowls are similar to Thadobati in shape and timbre. Since they have a similar soundscape they mix seamlessly with Thadobati in sets. The difference between a Remuna and a Thadobati is the Remuna have inward sloping walls to go with their flat bottom. Remuna bowls are very strong on artwork.

Remuna bowls tend to sport complex artwork. They often have deep etching with circles inside and out, even occasionally on the bottom of the bowl. It is not uncommon for Remuna bowls to have two textures outside, with a darker and rougher bottom half of the bowl. Inscriptions are more common on Remunas than any other type bowl. As with all antique singing bowls artwork may be worn away through long years of use.

Remunas tend to be thinner than Thadobati and you never see an extra thick one. The origin of the name Remuna is not clear, however there is a Remuna town and district on the northwest side of the bay of Bengal, south of Bhutan.

Manipuri

Manipuri bowls

Manipuri are the original singing bowls. When singing bowls first were introduced Western travelers in the 1970s this was by far the most common type. At the time most singing bowls were coming from Tibet on the back of refugees. Due to their metallic content they were easily sold to buyers in India and Nepal. The name Manipuri, however, comes from a state in Northeastern India. This is possibly due to that state being a center of production for brass objects.

There are many sub-styles of Manipuri bowls. No doubt over the last ten centuries millions of these were made and it is easy to imagine different makers using slightly different techniques. Manipuri bowls can be quite old and worn. They were used so extensively that thick elaborately etched bowls eventually became thin smooth bowls with no markings. it is not unusual to see a worn bowl with less than half the thickness of a well preserved version of the same sub-style. Much more so than Thadobati bowls, Manipuri were made with many hammermarks and fine craftsmanship so that they were quite smooth and even when brand new. This is not always true but a roughly made Manipuri is unusual.

Manipuri singing bowls were made in quite a range of sizes from tiny 3 inch bowls to ones a foot across. Due to their range of sizes, and also thickness, Manipuri have a very wide range of primary tones, from the lower second octave to the top of the 5th. The very worn Manipuri bowls can have exquisite sound. The shape of Manipuri bowls gives them a timbre that blends well with Jambati.

Mani

Mani Singing Bowls

Sometimes also known as Mudra, these rare singing bowl types have thick walls, flat bottoms, and are wider in the middle than at the bottom or lip. Their inward slope is that of the classic begging bowl though they are much larger. Decorative markings are standard though sometimes faint due to wear. Mani singing bowls generally are dated from the late 16th to the 19th century. These bowls were often given as wedding gifts, their great weight being a storehouse of value.

Despite their size Mani bowls tend to be very high in tone, they run counter to the general rule that larger heavier singing bowls are lower in tone. It is quite rare to find a Mani that is as low as the upper range of the middle octave, which is a pretty high sound. The vast majority ring in the 5th octave with some examples starting in the 6th. Manis tend to have smooth broad rims and are very easy to play with a ringing stick.

Lingam

Lingam or Lingam refers to male principle sometimes embodied as the Hindu god Shiva. A lingam is a protrusion of metal in the center of a singing bowl. Lingam bowls along with medicine bowls are the type of singing bowl most likely made for ritual purposes.

The most common lingam bowls are Manipuri style. Lingams always start out as adorned with extensive etching inside and out. The central lingam itself often has designs. Extra thick very old Thadobati bowls also come with lingams. Rare large ancient lingam bowls can come in a distinct rounded style, reminiscent of a Jambati, or the linham feature can be incorporated into other bowl styles, especially Manipuri and Jambati.

In modern times some Manipuri lingam bowls have fallen from ceremonial to household use. I’ve seen small very worn Manipur lingams referred to as “licker” bowls.

Due to the fact that they are so rare and expensive there has been a recent plague of fake Thadobati and special lingam bowls on the market. Fake lingams are often new bowls dressed up as old and sometimes old bowls with the lingam added later. A genuine old lingam will have consistent metal at the bottom of the bowl because the makers made sure there was extra material there with which to build a strong lingam. A modern bowl and especially a reworked old bowl will have thinner metal and often discoloration. Some reworked old lingam bowls have a dollop of metal added before hammering. Unfortunately I see fake lingams sold on the web, even by vendors who should know better.

I would estimate there are less than a dozen good sounding genuine Thadobati and special lingam singing bowls coming out of Asia in a given year.

Pedestal

Pedestal or “stand” bowls are sometimes known by the more prosaic name “Naga”. These bowls have a rounded bottom and an attached base so the bowl can be placed on a flat surface. Inscriptions are common on pedestal bowls, some of which indicate ceremonial use, others identify the bowls as gifts.

Pedestal bowls are generally on the thinner side though some older ones can be quite thick. Sizes range from 4 to 10 inches. Correspondingly, the range of notes is large, third to sixth octave.

Sound quality can be a problem for pedestal bowls, and I pass on many attractive looking bowls due to inferior sound. In Pedestal bowls the base can be loose and cause distortion while the round shape and thin walls are often not conducive with sonic depth.

Trapezoid

Every once in a while a “new” antique singing bowl type emerges. In the past an occasional Trapezoid shape would pop up here and there, then in 2013 the quantities suddenly jumped. In the past the Trapezoid bowls that would surface were large, thin and often not very sonic. What’s come to the market recently are smaller thicker bowls some of which sound incredibly sweet. My theory is that some village in some Himalayan regional backwater was “found” by the antique bowl collectors. In this village there was a tradition, maybe maintained by a single family, of making this style. A little time capsule treasure trove was waiting for just the right moment.

These bowls have straight, symmetrically sloped in sides and a flat bottom and straight top, viewed from the side a perfect Trapezoid. They all seem to have been made with similar markings, many parallel exterior lines and groups of inner circles. The rims are broad and outward facing with etching lines. Some of the very oldest examples have broad rims worn down to nubs. Who knows how many years of use that took.

Trapezoid bowls come in two distinct groups of sizes, small ones are around 5 inches, large ones 7-8 inches. The small ones tend to be high, 4th and 5th octave while the larger ones, very difficult to find with good sound, are lower than you would expect for being only 2 inches larger.

Ultabati

Ultabati singing bowls similar to Jambati style and come in similarly large sizes over 7″. Their distinguishing feature is that the side of the bowl is curved in under the rim. These bowls are not very common which makes them difficult to find with better sound quality. Ultabati bowls often have prominent hammermarks. They can come darkened, even black, on the outside and bright in the interior. Etching lines are similar to Jambati bowls but much less commons.

While Jambati bowls were a favorite in Tibet Ultabati seem to be more of a Northern Indian bowl. Ultabati bowls have the same low tones of Jambati. Indeed some of the deepest tones I have come across are thinner large Ultabati, starting at the bottom end of the 2nd octave.

Unique Singing Bowls

Occasionally you will come across bowls that simply don’t fit into any category or style. These different types of singing bowls seem to have the same cultural context, and similar metal, markings, and sizes. If they sound good, if they sing, regardless of what they were made for then they’ll find their way into the singing bowl market. Some are very much one of a kind, others are rare but some examples come in every year.

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What Our Customers Say

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.
Patty CarmodyPatty Carmody
23:54 28 Mar 22
I have been wanting to own a singing bowl for a long time and finally have received a beautiful one from Ryan. His website is interesting on its own for history and detailed knowledge and also has the capability of playing the different tones the bowls can produce. Mine was very true to that sound. I can’t tell you how much I appreciated Ryan’s patience and assist in choosing a bowl and the correct mallets. Mine has a low resonance with higher overtones depending on how it is played and is absolutely beautiful. All of his bowls are antique so you don’t have to worry about whether it is a “new” one made to look old. Everything in the process from beginning to end was a pleasure. No worries and the bowls arrived safe and sound (0h - that’s a good pun ha!) Thank you Ryan!
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