Components of the Tibetan Singing Bowls
Tibetan singing bowls are created in a variety of sizes and differing shapes. The traditional handmade bowls are created from a consecrated alloy consisting of five, seven or nine metals. The raw materials are smelted and purified before being cast, reheated and hammered into shape. Sacred mantras or chants are sung to imbue the bowls with the proper intent.
When played skilfully, each of the metals in the alloy creates a unique, resonating vibration that “dances” with the vibrations of the other metals. The bowls usually contain a high tin content, which produces a special sound that normal bronze, brass or other metal instruments lack. The metals are the same as those used in bells, tingshas and cymbals, as they sound the best, which is why they have been the chosen metals for bells worldwide for more than 3000 years. What needs to be noted is that it is the artisan that created the bowl and their knowledge and skills that are the most important factors in creating a great sounding bowl.
According to Tibetan legend, one of the metals used in singing bowls is meteorite iron. They say that the meteorites that are found in Tibet travelled through a very low-oxygen atmosphere, which means the composition of these particular meteorites iron is said to differ from meteorites found anywhere else in the world. Perhaps this is one key to the healing powers of the singing bowls.
My supplier uses an eighth metal in his production of the bowls: copper, tin, zinc, iron, lead, gold, silver and mercury. However, in the final form, only seven metals are present when analysed scientifically. There is a reason for this. The eighth metal, mercury, is used only to purify the alloy of the seven metals while they are still in their liquid form. A very small portion of mercury is added to this hot liquid. It rapidly separates all impurities that may be present in any of these seven metals and quickly evaporates and disappears from the alloy leaving no trace behind. This is the reason why mercury is not present in the final form.