The Jambati (rounded bottom) is one of the most common types of singing bowls.
This type of antique bowl usually appears to vary between 8.5” – 14” in diameter. The height could vary between 3” – 7”.
Jambati can be made with a thick lip (rim) or with no significant difference between the thickness of the wall and the edge. A thick rim usually adds the presence of a high pitch to the fundamental tone. The bowl with a bright high pitch is often associated with female energy.
Jambati without a thicker rim sound deeper and have a higher amount of distinguishable overtones. This type of bowl is often associated with male energy.
The origins of Jambati are India and Nepal. The oldest bowl of this kind that I came across was made in the 16th century, the youngest – from the 19th century.
Ultabati have the same geometry as the Jambati except for the upper part of the bowl. The wall curves inward and back creating the shape of a wave.
This type of bowl usually appears in a range between 9” – 14” in diameter. The height could vary between 3.5” – 7”.
Ultabati were usually made with no significant difference between the thickness of the wall and the edge (rim). The sound of these bowls is typically low and deep.
The origin of Ultabati is Nepal. Nepali elders say that this vessel was used in local breweries to make beer. The oldest bowl of this kind I saw was made in the 16th century. The youngest dates from the 20th century.
The Thadobati (flat bottom, straight wall) is another common type of antique singing bowl.
This type can usually be found ranging from 5.5” – 10” in diameter. The height could vary between 2” – 4.5”.
As with Jambati, Thadobati can appear with a thick lip (rim) or with no difference between the thickness of the wall and the edge. Having said that, Thadobati are usually greater in wall thickness than the previous types of bowls.
Thadobati originated on the east coast of India (thin-wall) and Bhutan (thick-wall). Thadobati can be found ranging in age from 50 to 400 years.
These cups vary in size ranging between 3-5 inches in diameter. The thickness of the wall in these cups is the main parameter that makes a huge difference in the pitch of the bowl.
Rare shaped Thadobati
Thadobati can often be found in a large variety of designs. Sometimes the rim is banded towards the center of the bowl, sometimes it sticks outside.
The type of Thadobati on the right side of the picture below got the name “Bodhi”. It is hard to say why and how, or who named it this way, but it certainly happened in the West in recent years. The rim of this bowl is slightly bent towards the outside. Usually, a Bodhi is hard to find. The majority of these bowls have an astonishing sound quality. They sound crystal clear with a distinguished balance between the fundamental tone and overtones.
The type of Thadobati below is called Remuna. The wall is angled inwards.
Typically Remunas are made with a medium thickness of the wall. It's pretty rare to find one with a good sound, but if you find one, keep it!
Mani bowls, aka "beggar's bowls" are the most frequently seen antique bowls still used by the Buddhist monks. Holding the bowl, the monk usually enters a crowded place asking for donations which are deposited in the bowl.
This type of bowl is typically heavy in weight due to the very thick walls.
Mani bowls typically produce a high pitch tone with no more than one distinguished overtone. These bowls are usually very easy to play by rubbing the rim.
The oldest Mani that I came across was about 350 years old. The youngest bowl was about 150 years old.
The origins of Mani bowls are unknown to me.
Pedestal bowl (AKA Naga bowl)
The name Pedestal bowl is self-explanatory. In this type of vessel, a rounded band is welded to the bottom. These bowls are comfortable to hold but sometimes a little hard to find, especially in good quality.
The oldest Pedestal bowl that I have seen was about 100 years old.
The origin of the Pedestal bowl is Odisha, India. In the original language, it is known as Gina. Gina's original purpose was a vessel for food.
Shiva Lingam bowl
Shiva Lingam bowls have become a real treasure these days. For some reason, the Westerners have given these bowls a special place in their collections, thus they command a special price. There are many different speculations about the traditional use of this type of bowl.
The nipple in the center of the bowl is a symbol of Shiva. This nipple adds to the cost of the bowl, which is sometimes a few thousand dollars. Shiva Lingam bowls however usually have a really good sound. It is sustained and clear with not many overtones but with a good balance between them.
The origin of Shiva Lingam bowls is India. The oldest bowl of this kind I saw was about 350 years old.
This is another pretty common type of singing bowl. The main characteristic of the Manipuri is the low wall. Manipuris can be found in various sizes ranging from 3.5 to 10 inches. The wall is typically thin, which doesn't make this bowl a good sounding instrument. However, if you are lucky to find a Manipuri with a thick wall or a thick rim, most likely you will not want to let it go. Some of these bowls sound quite delicious!
The most likely origin of the Manipuri is India. The oldest bowl of this kind I saw was about 300 years old, and the youngest about 80 years old.