Lingam Singing Bowls
Lingams Singing Bowls are without doubt the rarest of all Himalayan bowls, and also among the oldest, with some dating back to at least the 16th century. They were made for ritual, healing, and sacred ceremonial use, and some are inscribed. Named after the male principle, embodied as the Hindu God Shiva, they are easily identified by a conical protrusion, the lingam, in the centre of the bowl. This is usually matched by a navel-like impression, or yoni, on the underside when the bowl is turned over. They are superbly crafted, responsive and easy to play, and have unique sonic qualities. Lingam bowls are different, special!
Antique Lingam Bowls come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. They typically have diameters of between 5 and 7 inches (23 to 28 cm). Very occasionally one of 9 or even 10 inches will come to light, but anything larger is virtually unheard of! There are several extremely rare museum-quality specimens in my collection with diameters in excess of 14 inches (36 cm) and weighing well over 13 pounds (6 kilos)!
Lingam bowls are usually beautifully forged, with even walls and a smooth surface finish. Many take the Thadobati form with a fairly straight wall and sheered lip, but they can be almost any shape. Some have a large triangulated and grooved inward facing lip. Decoration is fairly consistent and minimal…perhaps a couple of concentric circles at the foot of the protruding lingam to define it, and one or two larger circles radiating from the centre of the bowl. There are nearly always a few decorative lines just below the rim on the outer wall and, very occasionally, high up on the inside too.
Their notes typically cover the 3rd to 6th octave, but the largest specimens can be 2nd octave. Antique Lingam Singing Bowls are sacred ritual and musical vessels, and for that reason they often carry inscriptions.
The sound of an old lingam bowl is very special…sweet and sonorous, sometimes pulsating, and often with a long sustain. Notes tend to occupy the middle and higher octaves, and the fundamental and rim notes are usually the same. The largest specimens can be 2nd octave. A few have extraordinary fountain abilities…the exact water volume sometimes being determined by tilting and filling the interval between engraved lines inside the bowl (this may also be the case with other bowl forms such as the Thadobati and Jambati).
Lingam bowls have massive aesthetic appeal and seldom come on the market. Prices have rocketed in recent years.
Rare Antique Lingam Singing Bowls are our speciality. We began collecting them in Nepal in the mid 1980s when there was virtually no interest in rare or unusual bowl forms regardless of their age, ceremonial purpose or exquisite sonic qualities. We were among the first in the West to appreciate their antiquity and refined beauty, discover their unique sonic qualities, and medicinal and ceremonial functions. Forty years later, almost unintentionally, I find myself with probably the world’s largest collection of these now incredibly rare and wonderful sacred singing and healing bowls. You will find more antique Lingams on this website than all the others combined.