Tibetan Wellness Instruments : Gongs

What exactly is a Gong?

A gong is made from a large flat metal disc shape when hit it produces a sound that is loud and a distinct. It is sometimes used for musical instruments and a signalling device in the Western world but in Tibet sound of gong summons monks into the prayer hall.

How does Gong Healing works?

When we are most relaxed or in the state of deep sleep, our brain state is in Delta wave, precisely speaking  in Theta brain wave. This is the most subtle and slowest brain waves which is in clam and relax mode. The sounding of a gong induces the brain to reach that state of wave length where our physical and subtle mental state becomes calm and complete relaxed. Hence, gong becomes a central in many natural healing therapies.

How do I listen to gong's healing frequencies?
Ideally, gong healing is effectively in a therapy setting where you sits or lay  down, standing up or just in the vicinity of the sound wave expose yourself to these healing frequencies where a therapist or a friend sounding the gong. In this situation, you are not engaging yourself in the striking of the gong, hence maximum relaxation. Else, you actively strike the gong gently and enjoy the sound. Be creative, there is no one method that fits all situation. 

What is gong therapy or sound therapy ?

As the means to achieve optimum health and wellness have expanded and included disciplines such as meditation, there is also "sound therapy." This nature-based and traditional technique has been making promising results and clear advantages. In particular, we're going to take a look into the Eastern culture of gongs. Let's take some moments to know the basics and find out more. When you do, you'd want to include sound therapy as part of your wellness routine.

Why are gongs so expensive?
Goings are expensive because of few obvious reasons, firstly these are all hand beaten from metal sheets which curled and curved with each hammering beats. Very time consuming and labour intensive work. Most of them are forged in small workshops with manual heating of the raw metals. Secondly, a decent size gong requires large amount of raw materials of brass and copper. Most of the time, raw material's cost increases each year. Thirdly, any additional, shape, decoration and etching go through few artisans time and effort. 

What is the history of Gong?

A brief history of gong is, they are believed to have come about in the Bronze Age in a location we now know as Tibet. Gong is an Indonesian word and is a fixture of 'gamelan' ensembles in Java and Bali.

Looking into the ancient past of Southeast Asian countries like China, Burma, Tibet, and Java (now Indonesia), gongs were sounded to bring people to congregate and pray in a sacred place. They were also used as musical instruments. As part of the culture, practice, and religious ceremonies, the sound of gongs holds special meanings. Until today, such practices are still upheld.

In Tibet, where the origin of the gong is evident, they are used to summon or call Tibetans to participate in monastic rituals and sessions carried out in various monasteries and religious communities. The gong's sound also drives away evil spirits that possess monks. Bad spirits in their previous human existence led a monastic life. But because of bad karma, they reincarnate as evil beings.

In the 18th century, classical composers in Europe started to include the gong or tam-tam in their musical compositions. It marked the introduction of large Chau-gongs as part of the symphony orchestra due to its wide range of tones for loud and soft passages or transitions.

What are the health befits of a Tibetan gong?
Gongs are percussion instruments that have evolved through many years, taking with them the culture of the location they are used—no wonder they are made of different shapes and sizes, and styles.

Let's also talk about some health benefits from the sound of gongs. When you strike or tap it, you will hear different sounds and harmonics. That happens because different sounds have different frequencies and waveforms. They depend on which part of the gong is tapped or struck, the size and thickness of the metal, and the kind of mallet used. Contributing further to the quality of sound is the strength or impact of the tapping, the duration of the sound, the sort of metal or alloy it's made of, among many other reasons. 
What are the basic types of gongs ?

 Suspended gongs / Chau Gong

  • Wind Gong
  • Nipple gongs
  • Bowl gongs / Tibetan Singing Bowl
1. What is a Suspended gong or Chau gong ?

Chau Gong - The Little Tibet
Also called 'Chau gong' or bull's eye gong, it is also popularly known as tam-tam. Typically made of brass or bronze, which are alloys of copper, gongs have a shiny golden hue. The shape and appearance can be likened to an oversized table plate, that is, the rim or edge slightly raised. The Chau-gong face is finished mainly in shiny copper. In contrast, its rim and centre have a darker copper oxide coating that gives an exciting contrast. They are sounded by striking the plate with a mallet clothed at the striking end or a bamboo stick. Chau gongs are also called 'tam-tams' to distinguish them from bossed or nipple gongs. The resulting sound or vibration is more of a 'crash' sound than a musical note.

Gongs are also popular instruments used in Tibetan healing in gong bath and sound bath. But instead of water, the patient is 'bathed' or immersed in healing sounds.

How to set up a Suspended Gong ?

Typically a Suspended gong hung to an existing beam or a post (column) and lintel (beam) structure, either of wood or reinforced concrete or masonry. A sturdy base is also needed depending on the location. The choice of the support structure depends partly on the size and weight of the gong. Cords made of solid material are passed through the upper holes in the gong and secured to the beam or lintel of its support structure.

Also, depending on the size of your gong, you can settle on the best way to hang it by choosing among different types of ceiling hangers. An inverted 'T' hanger which is minimalist, or a bracket or a pair of it installed on a wall, are options for smaller sized gongs.

2. What is a Wind gong ?
Wind Gong - The Little Tibet

A typical Wind gong has large and flat surface and flat edge, it is like a flat bell which produce complex musical notes. Many Wind gongs are covered with mantras of various Bodhisattvas because it is much convenient to etched on the flat surface than the other raised or curled edges. 

Also called Lion Gongs or Feng Gongs are flat discs generally made of bronze, brass, or nickel silver and resemble cymbals. Depending on the mallet used to play it, melodic overtones can be heard. While a soft mallet produces a long, loud, deep sound or 'crash' sound, it can also remind you of the sound of 'wind.' It is also traditionally used in religious ceremonies and meditations. Both faces of this gong are shaped with a lathe machine. They range in size from about 15 to 22 inches in diameter. Smaller ones produce high pitch with less power, while bigger ones deliver deeper, richer, and more extended harmonics.

Tibetan wind gongs can easily be mounted in strategic areas outside, like on the balcony or terrace. So, relaxing and meditating in these outdoor spaces can be extra relaxing and healthful.

3. What is a Nipple gong or bossed gong ?

Nipple Gong - The little Tibet

 Also hung or suspended like the Chau Gong, the apparent difference is its mid-centre hemispherical protrusion, raised 'dome,' or 'nipple.' The gong's outside rim is slightly upturned, eliminating the sharp edge as found in cymbals. Variations include shallow depressions, or etchings, along the face, usually towards the rim, creating a more interesting design that's aesthetically pleasing to look at. Nipple gongs may range in size or diameter from about 6 inches to 14 inches and may go even longer than that. Two distinctly noticeable sounds are produced depending on which part is struck: the bossed centre or nipple or the area outside.

Bossed Gongs are alternative instruments in Tibetan bath or sound healing. Patients are imbued with the healing energy of sound emanating from the bossed gong. As different harmonics are created from the round, raised middle part and the surrounding flat plate, different sound frequencies are released.

How to set up a Bossed or Nipple Gong ?
The setup for a nipple gong is the same as Chau Gongs. Its variety of sizes or diameter allows a more artistic and straightforward range of configurations. For instance, it can be showcased and sounded on a display niche on the wall, placed on a side table, or a taller one can function as a room divider.

3. What is a Bowl gong ?

Bowl gong - The Little Tibet
It's unmistakably bowl-shaped and made of an alloy metal such as brass or bronze. Known as singing bowls, they can also be classified under the bell category. With the mallet paired with it, you can strike the Bowl Gong to make a sound. Rubbing or tapping along the side with the balls of the mallet or even with your fingers can bring about several different pleasant sounds.

Different sounds are created depending on the part tapped and how it's executed. So, the relaxing notes put an individual at ease, and the body releases endomorphic (EM) that enhances happy feelings, resulting in better health and a positive mood. EM or 'feel-good chemicals circulate in our central nervous system, including the brain.

How to set up a Bowl Gong ?

A bowl gong or singing bowl is easy to set up. Usually, it is placed atop a cushion, on the ground, or on a horizontal surface like a table top. You could also hold a singing bowl session with a few family members in a room, with each person having a bowl gong beside him.

They are many more gongs types, some of them are as follows:


What is a Opera Gong ?

Opera Gong - The Little Tibet
This class of gongs are essential musical instruments in an orchestra. Two pairs are used. The larger one brings out a tone that descends and is sounded to signal the major players' and male cast' entrance. The smaller one has ascending tone, ushers in the rest for the supporting cast and the female performers. Watching a stage production or an opera produces pleasant feelings for the audience. At home, listening to the therapeutic sound of a Tibetan singing bowl will reinforce that wonderful feeling.

Sculptural gongs 

Sculpture Gongs - The Little Tibet
Sculptural gongs have the unique characteristic of being both a musical instrument and a fascinating piece of art. Both stir up good feelings inside us, and therefore healthful and inspiring. Being an artwork, they are crafted in artistic, complex, and even abstract sculpture releases 'good feelings in us, which is healthful. Getting a Tibetan singing bowl for your home will do great wonders to your health and well-being.

One or two types of gongs can be a wonderful addition to any home. Setting them up is not a difficult task. There are different sizes, types, and price ranges to choose from. On top of that, it has many benefits. Aside from a functional work of art that can be a conversation piece among visitors, you will enjoy a range of unique and refreshing sounds. The unique health and wellness advantages of sound immersion from gongs promote relaxing naturally: not intrusive or invasive, easy to do, and most of all sustainable and effective.

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