Singing Bowl Sets
Antique singing bowls are rarely, if ever, discovered in sets at source in the Himalayas, although bowls from the same local forge are sometimes found together in a single household or village. Antique bowls are mostly sourced in ones and twos by itinerate traders who trek from village to village in search of antiquities, until they have sufficient to warrant a trip to the city and its specialist dealers.
The bowls are delivered in jute sacks, all mixed together regardless of where they were found, and stacked alongside others the dealer has already acquired from elsewhere. Later, they will all be sorted into different types and sizes, and grouped accordingly in the storeroom…making it virtually impossible to find even a pair of bowls that might once have lived together. If you want a set of antique singing bowls it will have to be created from scratch by sifting and sorting through thousands of bowls…and that will take time! Perhaps even a lifetime!
The nature of bowl collecting is such that many choose to build their own set from singing bowls they source on the internet. Others will prefer to buy a dealer-created set or, better still, commission one that perfectly fits their requirement from a singing bowl specialist. However, there are many potential pitfalls in DIY.
There are many types of singing bowl and different types of set…the most popular being the 7-piece Chakra Set and the 12-piece Chromatic Set. It’s as much an art as a science to assemble a group of seemingly random bowls of a particular kind into a harmonically balanced set that is matched for note, pitch, octave, size, condition, ease of play, and any number of other factors. One may need to sort though thousands of antique Thadobati or Jambati bowls to create a single Chakra Set of distinction, and a matched set of rare antique Lingam bowls may take ten years or more to complete! A finely matched set of a single bowl type can be extremely costly. The price will depend upon the number of bowls in your set and their type, size, condition and quality, as well as their notes and tonality.
If you really want a singing bowl set a possible compromise solution would be to create one from different bowl types, and/or sizes, with the same octave. They may not be uniform in shape or size but they might still be sonically matched and meet your need if you choose wisely! An easier set to create would be one where all the notes are correct, but in different octaves…say 3rd and 4th. And some collectors or therapists are content to have a perfectly matched set of just 3, 4 or 5 bowls.