Interesting facts about Singing Bowls and Sound Massage

Peter Hess

Many people have heard of Tibetan singing bowls and may even have held a singing bowl in their hands but only few have any detailed knowledge about the ringing messengers from distant cultures. Singing bowls can be found throughout the Himalayans and in various countries such as China, Thailand and Japan. They are used for meditation, their focused tone is supposed to provide clarity of mind. The bowls come in weights from about 150 grams up to several kilograms and can be found in diameters from 5 cm to about 35 cm. There are very rare specimens that are even heavier and larger. The singing bowls made in the traditional way are very artistic metal bowls cast and chased from various metals. Depending on the area of fabrication and religious influences different metals were used for the alloy. Bowls fabricated in areas where Buddhism was prevalent contain the twelve metals most important in Buddhism. You can elicit unique sounds rich in overtones from the bowls, if you strike them with a mallet or rub them with a dowel. Whether the bowl sounds “high” or “low” depends on the way in which you make it ring by using a hard or soft object. Depending on the method, upper or lower harmonics develop that supplement the base tone of the bowl in a magical way and constitute the idiosyncratic sound of a good singing bowl. The method for fabricating the bowls has been handed down only partly and by way of mouth; it may have originated from the Bon Po religion prevalent in the Himalayas before Buddhism and been taken over by Buddhism in these regions. Presumably the bowls lost their original importance for rituals in the course of the centuries. This also caused the disappearance of the superb craftsmanship of making such bowls.


Sound massage is based on ancient knowledge concerning the effect of sounds that was applied in Indian healing therapy as long as more than 5000 years ago. According to eastern ideas man was created out of sound, i.e. he is sound. If a human being is “in tune” with himself and his environment, then he or she is able to arrange his/her life freely and creatively. Since the early eighties, the German Peter Hess, born 1941, has been studying radiesthesia intensively. He did a series of investigations on places of force in Wales and in Nepal. Since 1984 he has been looking more and more into the effect that sound has on people. Based on his manifold experience with sound, particularly in Nepal and Tibet, he started to work with singing bowls in that year. The investigations and experiences of the German music investigator Prof. Dr. Gert Wegner, as well as mutual experiments on the effect of traditional music on the human mind and body form the basis for sound massage. In the course of many years of practice, Peter Hess has adapted this knowledge to people in Western cultures. The result of this work is the sound massage according to Peter Hess®.

In Uenzen/Northern Germany Peter Hess is manager of the Institute for sound massage therapy, which is continuing to further develop the method of sound massage and passes on the experiences gained in seminars in Germany and abroad since 1986.

The origin of the singing bowls in Tibet and Northern India for the most part still remains a mystery. Their original function has not been wholly determined. Literature discusses their use as a resonance body or sacrificial bowl in ritual applications but also their use as crockery. Peter Hess did not find any definite statements on this either, in spite of many years of investigations on his numerous journeys all through the Himalayas and his visits to monasteries.


Today, because of increased demand, there are only few antique singing bowls of good quality. Often new bowls can be found that neither correspond to the old metal alloy nor are fabricated in the traditional way. Since the start of 1990 Peter Hess has been trying to track down the knowledge covering the traditional composition and fabrication of singing bowls. After a few failures he succeeded in early 1997 to revive the traditional fabrication of singing bowls in the old composition of 12 metals. These new singing bowls with the ACAMA® seal of quality, that are produced according to ancient tradition, guarantee constant quality throughout.


Where do Singing Bowls come from?

Peter Hess with his long experience of Asia and Polyglobe Music have specialized in collecting and importing traditional bowls. Through changes in society and technology, fabrication of these bowls by craftsmen in the Himalayas ceased between 1900 and 1940 depending on the area. Today people collect the old bowls found in Tibetan households where they are mostly used for cooking and as ladles. However, “old bowl” does not by default mean “good bowl”. Unfortunately, bowls with a really good sound do not exist in sufficient numbers these days. Although you can still find antique bowls on the tourist markets in Nepal, the high-quality bowls have been taken out years ago. Through excellent contacts in Tibet, Nepal and India we are, however, in the position to select the best of the bowls still available before they reach the market.



How do you recognize a good Singing Bowl?

Due to the increased popularity of singing bowls in therapy, people have become much more quality-conscious during the last few years when buying bowls. Particularly in the area of therapy being able to put trust in selected high-quality goods is vital, not least because the success of a therapy depends on the good sonorous quality of the singing bowls used.

Every single quality singing bowl is hand tested and selected for its suitability for therapy work. Only if the vibration intensity and sustainment of the bowl is optimum does it receive the quality seal of quality. For this reason this trademark has established itself as a quality standard for the best singing bowls in Europe and the customer is guaranteed to receive a singing bowl of the highest standard. The composer and singing bowl musician quality allowed his name to be used for this.

Quality singing bowls are either antique finds from the Himalayas (type: KS10), or self-produced high quality bowls. The new quality singing bowls are fabricated according to an ancient tibetan recipe in the original alloy consisting of twelve pure metals according to vedic ritual: the seven planet metals gold, silver, mercury, copper, iron, tin, lead as well as five other metals important in Buddhism: zinc, meteoric iron, bismuth, lead glance, pyrite. In addition this alloy also contains a piece of an antique singing bowl as information from ancient knowledge. The alloy this produced is cast into the shape of a thick disc and then, in heated condition, chased into a singing bowl by four craftsmen. Producing a high quality quality singing bowl weighing approximately 1 kg takes four craftsmen about 32 hours. In order to meet the great demand for good singing bowls we developed several more types of singing bowls: The ASSAM singing bowls, with a full and high tone, in three fixed sizes, the ZEN singing bowls, with a high tone (in the japanese style) in three fixed sizes, and the BENGALI singing bowls. All these new types of singing bowls are made of seven pure metals and according to the Vedic ritual and are subject to the same stringent quality control as the quality singing bowls.

Unfortunately, today also simple bowls from Asia made out of scrap metals (not pure metals) meet the great demand for singing bowls in the west. We do not sell these bowls. When comparing them in sound with high quality bowls even a layman will immediately hear the difference. Such bowls are usually offered for as little as the price of metal per kilogram.

Sound Nature Canterbury


Heilpraktiker für Psychotherapie



   Die Klangbehandlung       für Gesundheit und Entspannung


Jens Sinram
Richtweg 91

28844 Weyhe - Germany


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