The types of singing bowls out on the market vary quite a bit in terms of diameter, height, and material. There are two general categories that singing bowls will fall under, Tibetan and crystal. From there, this is where the singing bowls branch into subcategories and will depend on time periods and usages.
Keep in mind that not all of these singing bowls are available at any given time. Some are outdated and require either antiques or custom orders to obtain.
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Tibetan Singing Bowls
Tibetan singing bowls, which are often made of metal, are the singing bowls most often associated with religious and cultural singing bowls. Traditionally, these singing bowls are made of copper and tin. But there are even options to be made of a seven-metal medley, which consists of copper, lead, zinc, tin, iron, silver, and gold.
The usage of a Tibetan singing bowl will range from simply helping someone meditate to the potential benefit of helping someone heal through the process of sound healing. They vary in size, shape, and purpose.
1. Jambati Singing Bowl
Jambati singing bowls are the basis for the majority of individual Tibetan singing bowls you see on the market. They have curved walls, a small, flat bottom, and a tiny lip on the edge that curves in. These singing bowls also tend to have thicker walls than other options.
You’ll also find that Jambati singing bowls have lines towards the top of the outer wall, making them more decorative. These lines do tend to change the octave of the singing bowl ever so slightly.
If you’re going to pick up a single singing bowl, then this is the product we’d recommend. They’re plenty of different pieces out on the market and they make great centerpieces for a meditation altar at home.
2. Thadobati Singing Bowl
Following the Jambati, the Thadobati singing bowl tends to make up the remaining majority of singing bowls. These singing bowls feature a higher wall, a wider flat bottom, and no markings on the outside. This allows for the Thadobati singing bowl to have a larger octave range.
You’ll find Thadobati singing bowls often come in sets of seven. Each size of the bowl represents a different chakra according to legends. It should be pointed out that these singing bowls have thinner walls, so they don’t require as much force to play them.
Because these singing bowls often come in sets, they don’t always adhere to the copper or bronze color tones. You’ll find everything from greens and yellows to reds and blues, typically to represent the seven chakras.
3. Ultabati Singing Bowl
Ultabati singing bowls look similar to Jambati, with the biggest difference being the thickness of the walls and the way the lip curves. In Ultabati singing bowls, you’ll find the lip curves outward, which tends to create a lower octave when played.
While not as common as Jambati or Thadobati singing bowls, Ultabati singing bowls are still an excellent choice for those looking to use a singing bowl for meditation. They tend to produce the deep, humming sound often associated with Buddhism meditation.
Because of the outward lip, it’s not as versatile as other singing bowls when it comes to octaves. Ultabati singing bowls are often quite large in nature as well, which gives them a pricier upfront cost. But they do tend to be a little more ornamental, still making them an excellent centerpiece.
4. Naga Singing Bowl
Naga singing bowls, sometimes referred to as pedestal singing bowls, have the biggest change of all singing bowls. Rather than sitting on a non-sound-dampening cushion, the Naga singing bowls come with a pedestal already molded into the singing bowl.
The bowl portion of the singing bowl has a similar appearance to Jambati singing bowls, with a slight decrease in the thickness of the walls. Thanks to the pedestal base, Naga singing bowls have a wide range of octaves, as you can strike the singing bowl much lower than normal.
However, the pedestal of Naga singing bowls is just as detrimental to the sound of singing bowls as it is beneficial. Depending on how the singing bowl was made, you’re likely to find the sound distorted or smothers out quite easily because of the pedestal.
5. Mani Singing Bowl
When you look at a Mani singing bowl, sometimes referred to as a Mudra, the most prominent feature that stands out is the extremely large bottom. They have relatively thick walls but tend to fall on the lower side when it comes to height. This plays a decently high note.
Despite their wide and thick sizes, Mani singing bowls are some of the easiest sound bowls to play with your hands. Since you’re not having to cup the singing bowl as you would with other types of Tibetan singing bowls, it rings true almost every time.
Now because of their large size, they’re often a little hard to find. You’re likely going to need to pick up an antique from somewhere like Etsy or have one custom-built.
6. Lingam Singing Bowl
Lingam singing bowls have a large mouth but still, maintain a bottom the size of a Jambati singing bowl. And unlike other singing bowls, the inside of the bowl actually contains a lingam at the center of the bottom, producing a unique sound among singing bowls.
Traditionally, these lingams, which have a navel-like shape, were built and shaped as the bowl was made. However, it’s more common to have the lingam attached afterward as a separate piece now. Depending on the production quality, the sound may change.
The slope from the wide mouth and tiny bottom make it one of the harder singing bowls to play with. If you end up picking up a Lingam singing bowl, give yourself a larger learning period, as you need to strike and move the mallet more meticulously compared to other singing bowls.
7. Manipuri Singing Bowl
Manipuri singing bowls are a somewhat fusion between the Mani and Lingam singing bowls. They have an overall wider body, similar to Mani singing bowls, but still maintain a wide mouth, similar to Lingam singing bowls.
Thanks to the wider bottom piece of the bowl, Manipuri singing bowls are another singing bowl that’s easy to use in your hand. They’re not as heavy as Mani bowls, but they have more space to hold it flat compared to the Lingam bowls.
With all that being said, Manipuri singing bowls are some of the most simple singing bowls. In reality, they look similar to a Western pasta dish, not making them as appealing to use. But they do have a wide variety of them and play most low octaves to the middle octaves.
8. Remuna Singing Bowl
Remuna singing bowls often get mistaken for Thadobati singing bowls because of their shape and size. The biggest difference between these two bowls is that Tadobati singing bowls have flatter walls, while the Remuna singing bowl has a slight curve inward.
Another key difference between the two is the fact that Remuna singing bowls have textures and markings on both the inner and outer walls, changing the sound when running the mallet along the outer walls.
Remuna singing bowls are often bought in sets as they come in a wide variety of different sizes, similar to the Thadobati. If you enjoy a slightly deeper resonating sound compared to Thadobati, consider Remuna singing bowls instead.
Crystal Singing Bowls
Crystal singing bowls are the latest addition to the singing bowl world. Rather than having their roots in spiritualism and religion, crystal singing bowls have found roots in the new age of spiritualists and meditation.
As of right now, all crystal singing bowls are made up of quartz, as it’s easier to shape and tune quartz crystal. On top of that, they have a relatively high threshold to strike from the rubber that won’t impact the sound.
You’ll find two types of quartz singing bowls out on the market, frosted and clear. While they’re both made of quartz, they have very distinct sounds and processes of being made.
9. Frosted Quartz Crystal Singing Bowl
Frosted quartz crystal singing bowls make up the bulk of the crystal singing bowl types. They have large and thick walls with little to no curvature in them. You’ll find frosted quartz singing bowls with a mouth as little as 4” to as much as 24” readily available.
Like Tibetan singing bowl sets, frosted quartz crystal singing bowls often come in sets of seven to represent the chakras. However, crystal singing bowls often narrow down the note at which they play. Making them closer to musical instruments than their traditional counterparts.
Frosted quartz crystal singing bowls are often used in sound baths for sound healing. It’s thought that while singing bowls bring the benefit of negative energy cleansing, multiple crystal singing bowls produce a wide range of notes to do a more effective job.
10. Clear Quartz Crystal Singing Bowl
Clear quartz crystal singing bowls are heated to a much higher temperature, removing more impurities compared to frosted quartz. They play at a slightly higher frequency than other crystal singing bowls, which is said to be a better option for sound healing.
Unlike frosted quartz singing bowls, clear quartz singing bowls are often sold individually at a relatively high price. But, you will find the clear crystal singing bowls produce a purer sound, having fewer fluctuations than both Tibetan and frosted quartz options.
FAQs About Types of Singing Bowls
Which singing bowl should I start with?
Depending on what you’re looking to use your singing bowl for, it’s best to start with either a Jambati-style Tibetan singing bowl or a smaller crystal singing bowl.
If it’s for religious or spiritual reasons, stick with the Tibetan singing bowl. But if it’s for meditation or cleansing purposes, try out a crystal singing bowl first instead.
How do I identify my singing bowl?
Identifying Tibetan singing bowls comes down to looking at how wide the mouth, bottom, and way the lip of the bowl curves. A wide majority of commercially available Tibetan singing bowls are either the Jambati or Thadobati style. Compare with some of the pictures above or found on singing bowl seller websites for further clarification.
With crystal singing bowls, it’s a little more simple. If it’s not possible to see through the bowl, then it’s frosted. If you can clearly see through the bowl, then it’s a clear singing bowl.
What is the difference between Tibetan and crystal singing bowls?
Tibetan singing bowls are made of metals, specifically copper, iron, zinc, lead, tin, silver, and gold. These singing bowls have been found back as late as 5,000 years ago and play a part in many cultural, spiritual, and religious practices.
Crystal singing bowls are made out of quartz crystal. They’ve only been around since the late 1980s and mainly have roots in meditation and new-age spiritualism. Because crystal singing bowls often work best in sets, they’re somewhat of a musical instrument in themselves.