These very cosmic objects are a firm favourite in my percussion collection. Their sound is magical, mystical, musical and medical, and their use transcends the physical acoustic world we inhabit, providing a gateway to Elsewhere.
Little is known about their origins, which are shrouded in secrecy and ancient languages,
as much of the Tibetan culture has been lost due to religious and political instability in
the region. Although there are no written records concerning the use of the bowls, it is
believed they date back thousands of years, being used by pre-Buddhist shamans of the Bon
Pot (pronounced Burn Pur) in Tibet and Taoists in China, both to ward off evil spirits and
to welcome good ones. There are also tales of vast collections of thousands of bowls in the
monasteries high up in the Himalayas, used for purposes of 'travel without moving'.
Some folk say they are just eating bowls, but once one hears their remarkable sound and
witnesses their painstaking craftsmanship, it becomes clear that they have more uses than
the purely culinary. Some bowls have been positively charged with magical energies during
spiritual and religious ceremonies, and seem to impart a physical presence in the room
even when silent.
© copyright Malcolm Smith 2003-06-05 - last updated 2007-01-16 - links verified 2003-06-05