SINGING BOWL: the bowl that sings!

Smoothing hhmmmmm...........humming sound coming out of a bowl makes everyone close his/her eyes and concentrate on the sound. Deep, it touches and comfort it makes. This is the magical sound of "Singing Bowl" made in Nepal. Artisans of Mahaguthi produce magnificent singing bowls that has been very popular in western market. Careful proportionate selection of raw materials, mastery in molding and artistic finishing makes a perfect bowl that sings.

Bronze utensils have vivid uses in Nepali culture. For dinning to worshiping various forms of bronze, brass, copper utensils have been used fro centuries. Be it a bowl used to feed pregnant women or be it used to cook the rice or vegetables, or use as instrument to produce fine melody, it has got a significant place in Nepalese society. It is still very common to put food in bronze plates to test any toxicity. It is said that the color of the plate will change if the food contaminates any toxic elements.

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Now, the singing bowl has been exported to many countries around the world as a fine artifact from Nepal. Let's take a look on how this fine product has been made.

The quality of sound depends upon the proportion of the raw materials used. Basically seven different ingredients of tin, copper, silver, gold, zinc, lead and iron are used to make the bowl. However, at present gold and silver are not used because of high cost. Mostly tin and copper are used. All the tricks lie in making proper combination, as the quality of the sound depends upon this proportion.

The singing bowl is produced with "sand casting" method. Sand and clay are filled in a mold with the dice in required size. The artisan steps on the mold holding the stripe hung above head to press firmly. The coordinated steps in rhythm on the mold looks like the artisan dancing on the mold. The ingredient is melted in a pot in traditional fireplace and then poured into the mold. It will keep a side for cooling then the mold is separated. What comes out from that mold is a raw singing bowl with bit of fumes as it is still hot.

The bowl then cooled and put into spinning machine to chip off the rough edge and shape the bowl in needed size. In doing this, it also get polished. For fine policing, grinding is done and polished. Sparkling new singing bowl is ready. The carved singing bowl are made in mold, only finishing caring is down after the molding in the process of chipping. For various designs and color, etching is done. The final product is ready. Etching is another art. Artisans apply wax on the area they need designs and coat pain on other areas. It is set for a while, what comes out of it is a colorful singing bowl. It is polished with bit of oil (any oil) to give a perfect look.

The group started to work on singing bowl from 10 years. Earlier they used to make bronze house hold utensils, khukuri (nepali weapon) etc. from previous generations as a occupation. The name is also given to the group as "KASHA" means the people who work on Kash (bronze). Due to changing market trend, the old product diverted into singing bowl.

From last three years the market is almost constant for it. It is felt that new development is needed to remain in market.