Tingsha Bells- What Are They & How Do You Use Them?

Tingsha Bells- What Are They & How Do You Use Them?

Many people these days are familiar with singing bowls- the metal or crystal bowls that are used for meditation and ceremony that when struck or played, produce a ringing sound, however have you ever heard of Tingsha Bells?

What Are Tingsha Bells?

Tingsha (Ting-sha, Tingshya, or Taa (Nepali)) Bells are a small set of hand cymbals, ranging in size from 5cm - 10cm, and joined together by a leather strap

Set of tibetan brass tingsha bells on a leather string

or chain. When struck together, Tingsha produce a clear, high-pitched tone. Unlike standard cymbals, Tingsha are quite thick  and have a sound that resonates for a lot longer. Tingsha bells are believed to have originated from the pre-Buddhist religion Bon.

What Are The Symbols On Tingsha Bells?

Tingsha bells can be plain or decorated, usually in the Ashtamangala (the 8 auspicious symbols) or with other auspicious symbols & mantras.

The 8 auspicious symbols, seen on many tingshas,  represent the offerings that were presented to Shakyamuni Buddha upon his attainment of enlightenment. They are representative of the "eightfold noble path' that leads to the cessation of suffering and enlightenment.

Other symbols that are often represented on the Tingsha are dragons and mantras such as "Oṃ maṇi padme hūm̐". 

What Is The Purpose Of Tingsha Bells?

two people sitting cross legged next to a collection of singing bowls and ing-sha tibetan cymbals

Ting-sha are used in a multitude of ways including to focus awareness during prayer and ritual by Tibetan Buddhist practitioners and to signal the beginning and end of group meditations.

It is also common these days to use ting-sha bells alongside singing bowls, as an aid for meditation, yoga and sound healing, as well as in new age music. Tingsha bells are also used for clearing a space, similar to how you would use a hand bell. The purifying tone of the bell is said to raise the vibrations of the space it is used in. 

Although they have become synonymous with meditation and Yoga, the original purpose of the Ting-sha bell is said to have its roots in a more spiritual application.

Originally, the purpose of the Tingsha Bells was to summon, and they were traditionally used in rituals to guide the dead.

In rituals to guide the newly deceased, prayers are recited for 49 days following an individuals death. During this time, Tibetan monks and lamas recite daily prayers of guidance whilst striking the tingsha to summon the deceased's consciousness. Burned food and water is given as offerings to the spirit as they can only consume nourishment through scent.

Tingsha bells were also employed to help tormented spirits, particularly those referred to as "hungry ghosts". Hungry ghosts are ghosts who inhabit one of the three lower realms of samsara. They are described as having enormous stomachs, however it is impossible for them to eat and gain nourishment as they possess tiny mouths, necks and limbs. They are said to dwell in landscapes of extreme heat and cold, spending eternity searching for food, but unable to consume, thus being driven mad with longing. According to Robert Beer in his book "Tibetan ting-sha:sacred sound for spiritual growth", monks would summon the 'hungry ghosts' with the tingsha and provide offerings of burned food and water. This would provide temporary relief of their suffering, enabling them to hear the mantra and prayer of the chanting monk who seeks to free the hungry ghosts from their torment


How Are Tingsha Bells Played?

person holding a set of tingsha bells - striking the edges together to produce a sound

Unlike standard musical cymbals that you might be used to, Tingsha bells are played by striking the two edges together and then allowing them to move apart

from each other so that the tone can resonate throughout the room. When you play a tingsha, wait for the sound to cease before striking them again. 

How To Use A Tingsha Bell

Even if you are not planning on making offerings to hungry ghosts, you can still use these tiny cymbals in your everyday practice. Ways that you can use a tingsha bell include:

  • Cleansing your space. In Feng Shui, Tingsha bells are often rung in the corners of a room to cleanse and clear the space. This is a particularly good way of cleansing if you are unable to perform a smoke cleansing.
  • To mark the beginning and end of your meditation/ yoga practice or ritual. 
  • When giving offerings to your ancestors- bells are often used for summoning due to their pure sound. When you place offerings at your altar, you can ring the tingsha to call to your ancestors. 

As many ways as there are to use a singing bowl or hand bell, you can utilise the tingsha bells. They truly do possess a beautiful sound- there is nothing quite like it.

Let us know if you use Tingsha bells in your practice. 

If you are looking for tingsha bells, check out the ones we sell here.


Wikipedia contributors. (2023, May 6). Tingsha. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 01:39, June 21, 2024, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Tingsha&oldid=1153499567

Beer, R. (2004). Tibetan ting-sha : Sacred sound for spiritual growth (pp. 14, 28-30). Connections Book Pub.

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