A common misconception is that Himalayan singing bowls are made from a special "sacred seven metal" alloy.
This is a false myth that has been perpetuated over the internet. Many people believe the seven metal myths. However, there is no truth to it. Singing bowls were never made from seven metals. In testing hundreds of bowls, we have never found the mythical seven metals. We have found only bell metal bronze or the cheap brass alternative.
One belief holds that the complexity of tones is created by a mixture of various metals. According to one of the explanations promoting the seven metals singing bowls myth, is that each element in the mixture contributes a different frequency, so that is why singing bowls sound so beautiful. Also, each of the seven metals is representing a planet: Iron (Mars), Copper (Venus), Tin (Jupiter), Gold (Sun), Silver (Moon), Mercury (Mercury), and Lead (Saturn).
The complex tone of Himalayan singing bowls does not result because of this speculation! To begin with, please imagine what frequency such metals as mercury or lead can contribute to the overall sound of a singing bowl? These two metals are not resonant at all! In addition, mercury and lead are very poisonous metals.
A more varied mix of metals will not result in a deeper or richer sound. Contrary to popular belief, more metals will produce a duller and less vibrant tone. Vedic scholars and alchemists share beliefs relating to metals and astrology. However, there is no relationship between seven metals and Himalayan singing bowls.
Merchants have taken the idea of seven sacred metals and attached it to Himalayan singing bowls to make them sound spiritual. This is one of of the New Age marketing examples.
The whole seven-metal myth is a marketing tactic without any factual foundation. According to Tibetan tradition, some people say, singing bowls should contain seven metals to promote healing. If you don't believe me, check the Internationally acknowledged sound healing academies (such as IASH), singing bowls courses on Udemy, and well known websites offering singing bowls for sale.
There are ritual objects in Tibetan Buddhism that are prescribed to be made of specific metals. In sacred texts, instructions are given to make objects out of copper, gold, and silver as well as gems, minerals, plant extracts, and combinations thereof. These instructions are found in scriptures and followed closely by monks. Merchants have borrowed this idea and attached it to singing bowls. When asked about seven metals, singing bowl makers laugh and turn away. It is a lucrative lie, they know it.
Singing bowls have nothing whatsoever to do with the seven metals, planets, chakras, or any other New Age ideas. The New Age ideas are a distraction from the truth. The majority of information found online is fake, created by salespeople, and maintained quickly because of the internet's power. The true tradition of singing bowls is more fascinating, sophisticated, and valuable.
Antique Himalayan singing bowls were historically made of bell bronze! Bell bronze is a mixture of copper and tin only in certain proportions. The makers keep the secret of how it was made. The alloy is almost free from impurities thanks to its meticulous and skilled preparation. This has been known for centuries by singing bowl makers. The secret to the pure bronze alloy is also known by gong, cymbal, and bell makers. Pure copper-tin alloy was created thousands of years ago. It has been passed down from generation to generation, spreading throughout civilization. This is a story of cultural sharing and continuity that is more fascinating and amazing.
Recent years saw a marketing strategy that included the addition of seven metals to singing bowls. Many ideas have been taken out of context and mistakenly linked to singing bowls. The "chakra tone" concept was also borrowed from Hindu beliefs. Spiritual salesman or just good-hearted dreamers borrowed ideas from Vedic Astrology and claimed singing bowls were related to the planets. They used Tibetan mythology about phurbas to say that singing bowls are made of meteor metal. These are all fake stories. Of course, each of us has the right to believe in what we believe, but don't let the salesmen sell you a beautiful story instead of a valuable instrument with amazing sound characteristics. People love stories and these myths are designed to trick people.
Singing bowls are made of bronze, which is a combination of approximately 80% of cupper and 20% of tin. All other elements found in the alloy are impurities, in other words, contamination of the soil. Chakra tones is another made up gimmick!
Some people don't want to believe the facts, they prefer myths. Nobody who speaks about seven metals has ever done metallurgical tests. Some even claim that testing is difficult or destructive. It is actually very simple to test the metal using non-destructive methods, the only problem is that it is not cheap and someone has to pay for it.
The singing bowls today continue the long-standing tradition. It is a beautiful inheritance that gives us a direct link to ancient civilizations. This is the real magic: our inheritance of bell-metal bronze from ancient times.
Metallurgical Study Of Singing Bowls
All antique handmade singing bowls we tested, were found to be made from the bell metal bronze, which is a mix of 77-80% copper and 20-23% tin. Most contain the higher amounts of tin, with 77-78% copper and 22-23% tin. A relatively small number of bowls (less than 15%) contain a tiny amount of iron. An amount of iron found in singing bowls was ranging from 0.03% to 0.15%. Due to the very small number of bowls with iron and a tiny amount of iron present, the iron is thought by the scientists to be an impurity and not intentional. Other chemicals found are trace amounts of arsenic and Sulphur, less than 0.1%. These chemicals are normal bi-products of bronze making. The chemicals are permanently bound in the metal and are not dangerous to touch. The content of all singing bowl metal, therefore, is known to be only copper and tin.
Bell Metal Bronze In Singing Bowls Manufacturing
The high tin content is quite difficult to prepare because tin and copper respond to heat differently. The evaporation point of tin is much lower than that of copper. Tin can evaporate into the air and be lost even before the copper has been fully melted. The melting temperature of tin is only 231.93 degrees Celsius while copper melts at the temperature of 1083 degrees Celsius. It requires great skill to make bronze with a high percentage of tin, especially over a primitive fireplace. This expensive and difficult to make alloy is primarily used for musical instruments. The ancient metallurgical techniques are kept in secret by the masters of the trade. Bell metal bronze has wonderful sonic properties. That is the reason it has been used for so long around the world for musical instruments. That is why authentic singing bowls are made of bronze.
On a microscopic level, bronze is crystalline in structure. The crystal structure makes the metal sound beautiful but also makes it fragile. Bronze is brittle and fairly easy to crack. The Liberty Bell is a well known example. Singing bowls crack in a similar fashion. However, bronze stands the test of time when not damaged. It resists corrosion and can last for a few thousand years. Eventually the metal disintegrates through a lengthy oxidation process.
Most of the new singing bowls are made of brass, which is a combination of copper and zinc. Brass is cheaper and easier to work with. The majority of machine finished singing bowls are made of brass because brass is softer and easier for machining process. Recently, aluminum made singing bowls also appeared on the market. Machined bowls can be detected by their perfectly symmetrical shape and an indicative center hole where they are attached to a lathe. Brass has a quicker vibrational decay so the sound does not last as long. It also has a less beautiful tone, with an an overall dull quality compared to the bell metal bronze.
The singing bowls are a literal and figurative emblem for harmony. Their very existence depended on cooperation between cultures. Their historic spread likewise crossed many borders. Their beautiful sound makes them cherished objects that people want to share. Today they are enjoyed around the world and unite people in new ways. They are used by groups in churches and yoga studios to enhance the group experience. They are used in classrooms, offices, and homes to create an experience of cooperation, harmony, and peace. Singing bowls have come down through the ages and continue to amaze us with their gifts. They are truly special objects and even more special due to their simplicity of form and function.
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