Craig Coussins Singing Bowls- History, use and price


Large and small RIN. The large Rin has a Rindai (Bowl stand) which is not the one made for it. This one is too big. The smaller Rin has a modern cushion probably made in Nepal or Bhutan. Photographed in Kyoto 2006 at a Buddhist Temple.


1: film of Craig demonstrating bowls
2:  film clip from the Antiques Roadshow 2007

Here are some thumbnails of the actual Kanji click any to see a full size image

I have been collecting Singing Bowls or Bon, for over thirty Years. These are mainly Himalaya Bowls from Nepal and occasionally, Tibet. I have learned by
now what is real and what is not. I was extremely excited by this discovery and the bowl is without any doubt, genuine. After 40 years of collecting Bowls  I have never heard anything like this incredible bowl.  The sound is astonishing. It did not have a Rindai or Bowl stand but, at present, it stands on a cushion.

I bought my first Japanese bowl in 1978 which was a small bowl and have managed to find two other examples which are  much larger. This very large bowl is , in my opinion, something else in both tone  and weight. I have never come across anything like this before. The bowl is thinner than others I have and that explains the amazing long and resonant tome  it produces when being struck or played. While clearly tarnished, the bowl has not deteriorated and I would not be happy to clean or polish this bowl  other than advised  by a specialist. Meantime it stays as it is. I have gently washed the outside and inside with a very soft brush  to remove grime but that is all.  The edgeretains traces of gilding. It did not come with a stand but the stand would probably have been in the approximate shape as the ones for the two smaller examples

I would have preferred that this bowl be returned to Japan but it seems that although this has a direct connection with one of Japans greatest Shoguns it does not seem to be of interest to anyone wishing to buy the bowl from me. I have spoken directly with the curator of Buddhist art at Nara Museum in November 2008 and indeed, they would like this bowl but did not offer anything for it. I never mentioned price. However, I think that it is worth $10,000.oo

There is, however a research tool that can possibly ascertain the provenance and  this is  is a catalogue of the art treasures in the temple up to 19 33.
I was sure that a bowl such as this would have to have been catalogued. However I went to Nara in November 2006 with my guide Yumiko Hirohama,
and we spoke with one of the priests and he gave me a photocopy of the pages from the book with images of bowls. I have matched one up to these.
So why was that bowl taken from Nara?

Catalogue of the Art Treasures of Ten Great Temples of Nara: The Horuji Temple.
5 vols., 6, 8, 7, 5, 8 pp. introduction (in English and Japanese) to a series of 451 images on plates showing images from photographs of the temple (considered to be one of the world's oldest wooden structures) and its works of art, including interior and exterior views, floor plans, ornamental carvings, wooden and clay statues, wall-paintings, shrines, pagodas, etc.

Bookplates of former owner on title-pages. Large 4to. Cloth, spine of Vol. III torn. Tokyo
(The Otsuka Kogeisha) 1932-1933.

F.A. BERNETT BOOKS 144 LINCOLN ST. BOSTON, MA 02111 T: 617.350.7778
Item ID: 43548 Price: $1,650.00


Recently discovered from an estate sale of an Antique Dealer and placed into an auction. I think that this should be reunited with the Horyuji Temple in Nara.

This bowl (Rin) is the largest old Rin I have seen. It is 26 centimetres across. There are modern much larger versions but this is of particular importance and connected to the most famous of all the Shoguns.

There is an inscription around the outside of the top of the bowl which reads:


(This is the approximate Romanji
translation-click to make larger)
Translated by Megumi Bennett , Australia

Reading fom right to left from the top
ho ryu ji-The Horuji Temple is in Nara and one of the oldest wooden structures in the world
Second line
era kecho kyu means 9th year march
Third  line
tokogawa  ieyaasu no osame means a gift from togowa ieyasu


Presented by Tokugawa Ieyasu to Horuji Temple in the keicho (period)1600-
TheTokugawa Era in Japan started in 1603.

Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616) was the founder of the Tokugawa bakufu of Japan,
and ruled from 1600 (officially 1603) until his abdication in 1605.




Cost and values:

While I have some older Japanese bowls, many of my collection are from Tibet and Nepal. I have some very old bowls and also some modern examples. The older bowls have a better sound, can be very thin and the tome is usually long and on some cases, very deep and low. The bowl above is also an early bowl but the stand (Daiza) and the striker date from the 1930s as these are inscribed as such. Modern copies of these very large old bowls are now made in Korea. Bowls of this size including stand and striker can be bought for around 500 ($1000. Smaller ones cost around 150 ($300)  to 350 ($700)  However, the one on the taller stand  is original. I was bought from a specialist Japanese Antique store in America. The average price for a bowl is around 200 to 350 depending on condition. A matching stand and striker will probably double the price. The bowl on its own would need to be in good condition and without damage, rot or holes. These bowls are very difficult to repair. Its not impossible but you would need to carefully braze a thin bronze plate or a silver plate over the crack or hole and polish that edge flat. That will stop the bowl rattling when struck. It will slightly change the tone but should not damage the tone.

If the bowl has a particular inscription that has good source history can of course be worth a lot of money but most bowls were simply gifts to local temples. This would have the name of the family, the year and date presented and possibly the name of the bowl maker. . Some temples would have many of these bowls. This practise is similar to modern religions like Greek Orthodox where a family will present an Icon to a church. That will have been made for the family and would not, in normal presentation, be an antique.


These are examples of Himalayan Bowls As you can see these bowls are quite different to the Japanese shape



This is the Credo of Tokugawa Iyeasu

Life is like unto a long journey with a heavy burden.
Let thy step be slow and steady, that thou stumble not.
Persuade thyself that imperfection and inconvenience are the natural lot of mortals,
and there will be no room for discontent, neither for despair.
When ambitious desires arise in thy heart, recall the days of extremity thou has passed through.
Forbearance is the root of quietness and assurance forever.
Look upon the wrath of the enemy.
If thou knowest only what it is to conquer, and knowest not what it is to be defeated,
woe unto thee; it will fare ill with thee.
Find fault with thyself rather than with others.


This is a Thumbnail of the Scroll shown here.

Click the scroll for a bigger image



Stone lanterns were not only decorative elements (especially this type of design) in
Japanese gardens, but also served as grave stones for some of the samurai or memorials
as found in Toshogu were all the daimyos donated lanterns to the shrine in honor of Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Haiga is by a lady named Mitsuko,
Within the fenced area,
a place where the deceased are
a brush from the tree in the corner.

Probably refers to the falling petals that are a nod to the great Samurai
warriors that fell in battle like the beautiful petals falling from a Sakura-Cherry-in the spring


General Information on Singing Bowls

Craig has been interested in Singing Bowls since 1970 and uses them as a meditation tool. Along with Didgeridoo and Native American Flutes, his concerts are always a truly inspirational and uplifting experience for the audience.

 Singing Bowls are one of the most amazing sounds to listen to however. They have very beautiful tones and we sometimes plays them for groups of friends or use them as a relaxing method for friends who are needing de-stressed from the problems of the world. Our Bowls come from Japan, Tibet and the Himalayas. They are a bronze metal with either 5, 7 or 10 metals in their construction. Some have a high gold content and the tones are extremely variable with deep low tones being Craig's favourite. All the bowls here are from the Svetlana Coussins Collection of Oriental and Native American Instruments


Click for larger image

Used in Meditation, these unique instruments can cause the listener to experience different mood changes depending on the Master playing them. The actual name is called BON and this means container. Indeed it is also used as a vessel for eating and drinking.

The Japanese Bowls are used in Zen Buddhism for starting a chant and is a respected sound that Craig rarely ever plays.

An Introduction to Tibetan, Himalayan-Nepalese and Eastern Singing Bowls

The sound of these bowls have impressed the Western listener for a number of years now. The origins of these bowls and the reason they have been made so is still a puzzle to many,

Where I am not refuting the religious significance of the use of sound, the harmonics and the sheer enveloping peaceful all enclosing feature of these sounds, these bowls have in most cases, no other reason but for one of eating.

The bowls were made by travelling 'Bowl Makers' who used the local available metals for manufacturing these simple shapes into vessels for offering to spirits, departed or otherwise, eating vessels for Monks or Disciples and perhaps simply cooking pots for the local stews or 'Balti's' which is a generic word as opposed to a style of food from Baltistan. Metal bowls are still in use when you order food in Restaurants that specialise in Indian cookery and it is reasonable to assume that these bowls were, in the main, used for similar purposes....except for one thing.

Why have most of these bowls such beautiful sounds? Why have some that sound like the very screeching of hells own devils and then why have some the ability to raise water in a fountain or a series of little fountains that rise in perfect form above the very rim of the bowl.

I tried to answer this question many years ago and found that any bowl like object made of metal or glass can give out a resonating tone. This is simply the vibration of the bowl shape building in intensity. The obvious example is when you may have run your finger around the rim of a wet glass. Indeed there are excellent Crystal Bowls now available in North America which give off resonate and lasting tones although I have still to work with these. I have worked with metal bowls for thirty years and perhaps I am set in my ways now.

What we have in the Bronze Singing Bowl is a richer deeper version of that range of available tones.

Used extensively in meditation and relaxing techniques today, the Bowl or to give it its more used name among the cognoscenti, Bon, has been recorded, played in concerts and used by therapists to relax patients. Indeed I too use this when asked by the friends that are aware of my interest in Bon. It is not always a comforting sound though.

Screaming bowls are used by masters to educate the students in the understanding of Bon. When 'played, the screaming bowl can emit a high level sound that is extremely penetrative to the ears and brain. If not understood this particular bowl can cause great pain. So why have such a thing?

It is used so that the listener can stop hearing the sound by turning the received or perceived, sound off inside their own brain.

What happens is that when the sound is heard, you must not hear it. This technique is part of the learning of Bon. Hear what is not there and control what you wish to hear or do not wish to hear.

The various bowls can give out different feelings of mood. I will partially describe one technique. This technique uses a number of different bowls but the core example is as follows. Use a soft sound and a harsh sound. Playing the soft sound allows your listener to feel comfortable and have nice thoughts.

Playing the harsh sound immediately the soft sound gets quieter makes the listener think of bad thoughts. Repeating these sounds with the harsh sound retreating until only the soft sound is being played puts the listener into a deep relaxed state that continues for up to an hour after the sounds have stopped altogether. By the time they 'recover', all their stress, and in nearly all instances, anxieties, have either gone or are heavily reduced.

This is one way I use the Bon sound to help my friends.

Using one yourself will help you to achieve a personal relaxed state. I use recordings of Bon that I overlay with Shakuhachi type sounds that I play on my Clarinet, Didgeridoo or Native American Flutes. I use the lovely sounds that emanate from these instruments to give the sound of rustling leaves, gentle breezes, rain on water, pensive bird calls and many other sounds of nature but all in harmony to the deep resonating sounds of Bon. Recently converted to Native American Flute and the Didge, I have found a whole new range of sounds to use in meditation.

I have given concerts on these bowls around the world followed by individual classes as well as group classes and as more people begin to understand Singing Bowls there simple message is now becoming a world wide phenomena. I am asked to obtain special bowls for students and while this does take time I am usually able to locate and supply these. Many bowls come from my collection and range between 75 and 800



Singing Bowls for sale These range from 75 for a small bowl to 5000 for the Tokugawa Iyeasu Bowl from Horyuji Temple in Nara, Japan



Small bowls between 75 and 150-a lot depends on both tone and rarity of shape.
These are genuine antique Bowls and not modern fakes.


Very heavy and Large Tibet Bowls with incredible low and very long tone 1000 each.
These are very old bowls in excess of 200 years and probably more.

Made from 5 metals I bought one from the Sotheby's Tibetan sale nearly
25 years ago and the other at the same time from a collector of Buddhist artefacts.


Negative tone bowls for balancing between good and bad thoughts in meditation-
playing a positive tone bowl with good thoughts 175 each

and then a negative bowl with bad thoughts and alternating -allowing the sound to
fade between gently beating the side of the bowl until you only play the positive tone
bowl which washes the negative thoughts out. Creates a very deep relaxation

    A large bowl with a good tone 250

A small travelling bowl for Meditation and food bought from a Tibetan Monk 100

click for bigger pictures than shown below.






These Bowls are very rare. The large bowl is the famous Tokugawa Iyeasu
 Bowl shown and described fully on the website and the smaller bowls are later 18th century. The stands are for sale separately at 300.

The Tokugawa bowl is 5000

The other two bowls are 1000 each