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The History of Wind Chimes

The history of wind chimes finds its origins in prehistoric times. Hanging objects from a branch and watching them sway is an ancient pleasure. Early wind chimes may have been as simple as hanging seashells or stones that clashed together.

In ancient China wind chimes were a fundamental part of Feng Shui.  Feng Shui is the Asian art of object placement that was designed to enhance positive energy in a home or garden.  Wind chimes and wind bells were often used as a Feng Shui cure to disperse stagnant energy or send negative energy (also known as chi) on its way. Different kinds of wind chimes were constructed out of different types of materials such as bamboo, metal or ceramic to treat different types of problems.

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Metal wind chimes also became an important component of Chinese religious rituals when the culture became proficient at metal working. Around 1000 B.C. they learned how to forge iron and began creating ritual bells for use in religious ceremonies.

It wasn’t until about 400 B.C. that wind chimes were also found in Japan. The Japanese also practiced a form of Feng Shui that was related to the Shinto religion. In this case the bells and wind chimes were used to summon nature spirits as well as disperse negative energy from a premises.

The difference between Japanese and Chinese wind chimes is that the Chinese ones were usually made of iron. The Japanese produced a wind chime made of bronze bells called a dokatu that was used to enhance the energy in their temples and gardens.  Later on the Japanese also developed a lighter wind chimes made from a combination of glass, metal or ceramic that were painted by hand.

Bamboo wind chimes are ageless. They have existed from prehistoric times and are prevalent everywhere in Asia from Bali to Tibet to Malaysia. Their main placement was from the roofs of Buddhist temples. Sometimes hundreds or even thousands of these would be attached to a temple to create an orchestral sound from the wind.

Wind chimes did not become a decorative art for inside the home until the nineteenth and twentieth century. In these modern times you can find wind chimes made of almost every type of material including plastic, copper, iron and recycled silverware.