A Singing Bowl is actually a “standing bell” (inverted bell) usually made from cast-iron or bronze (mostly copper and tin). Although very much associated with Tibetan Buddhist practices, and often referred to as the Tibetan Singing Bowl, the invention of the “standing bell” or “bowl” is usually attributed to China.
The bowls (coming in many sizes) have a variety of names, such as bowls, gongs, Buddha bowl, Tibetan bell, bowl gong, cup gong, and what not. The bowl or bell can produce sustained music or sounds, and as such it’s also known as a singing bowl.
The bowls are “played” by striking, or rotating a mallet around the outside edge of the bowl to make “music.” They are used as an aid in religious and other spiritual practices, such as chanting, relaxation and meditation. It’s also believed that specific sounds (vibrations) can help opening the Chakras.
Today, notably in the West, singing bowls are also used as a form of alternative medicine i.e. sound therapy for emotional healing or as a means to induce altered states of consciousness for spiritual (growth) purposes. On a more down-to-earth level it’s thought that sound vibrations can influence bodily tissues (the cells) for physical healing purposes, as such applying the singing bowl rather as a massage tool.