Wind Chimes: History and Purpose

I have always been fascinated by wind chimes and love hearing their sound as the wind blows by them. My earliest memory of wind chimes is the small metal one that hung inside my grandmother’s home in the doorway leading from the living room into the rest of her small house.

Wind chimes consist of suspended tubes, rods, bells or other objects that make a noise when the wind blows causing them to hit each other. Usually hung outside, wind chimes are used as visual ornaments and for the pleasant sounds they make. Some wind chimes use a central clapper or ringer shaped like a ball or disk that strikes the chimes as the windcatcher hanging below it catches the breeze.



Wind chimesWind chimes have been around for thousands of years. Archeologists have unearthed wind chimes in Southeastern Asia, Greece and Egypt made from bones, shells and stones. Around 1100 B.C., the wind chime became modernized by the Chinese with the use of different sized tonal iron bells that they used in their religious ceremonies. Wind chimes are also found early in Buddhists history as an integral part of their rituals and hung from the eaves, walls and ceilings of their sacred structures.

The use of wind chimes moved from China to Japan and into the western world by the 1800s. Europeans and Americans were influenced by Asia art, design and philosophy. The practice of Feng Shui continued the spread of wind chimes into the home.

By the 1970s, wind chimes gained popularity as companies began producing sophisticated and precision-tonal musical chimes. Some are even produced with a specific cultural tuning as seen in Japan, Bali and Hawaii.

Today wind chimes are seen both inside and outside, integrated in rituals and ceremonies and heard in music, including some of the Beatle’s songs. Wind chimes are also used for decorative purposes in homes and businesses.

I don’t remember hearing or seeing wind chimes very often as a child. Perhaps that is why the one at my grandmother’s house fascinated me so much. My parents started hanging wind chimes outside on the porch when I was a teenager. However, since the 1980s every place I’ve lived the sound of wind chimes are heard throughout the neighborhood. Some people have five or more that create a symphony of sound as the wind blows by.



Variety of wind chimesThe Romans believed the sound of bells kept evil spirits away. The same is true for the Chinese who hung them on the corners of the pagodas and temples to frighten away birds as well as evil spirits and attract benevolent ones. Today the Chinese believe wind chimes connect people to nature and themselves to bring greater awareness and to live in the moment.

In many parts of Asia, wind chimes are thought to bring good luck and are used in Feng Shui, the arrangement of objects to achieve harmony and peace in a home or garden. Many teachings of Feng Shui say that wind chimes cure negative energies, provide protection and bring calm and balance to people.

By observing a wind chime, you can see the changes in the wind’s direction and strength as well as being a signal for oncoming storms. This made them an effective tool for sailors, loggers and farmers. Farmers also use wind chimes in their fields to scare away birds and other pests.

Many people today hang wind chimes in doorways and windows to keep bad luck from entering their home. Wind chimes hung in the front door can also alert you when someone enters. In movies, the sound of wind chimes and bells signals danger.

For me, hearing the sound of wind chimes during a calm breeze brings me peace. I enjoy sitting outside on a warm summer day listening to the chimes, drinking ice tea and reading a book. However, when the wind is blowing hard, the sound keeps me alert, on edge and ready to take the wind chime down to stop all the noise. I can see how this helped forecast the weather and scare way pests.

If you like wind chimes, check out the selection of small wind chimes at Seeds of Wellness.

About Seeds of Wellness

Our gift store, Seed of Wellness, provides gifts for the body, mind and soul. We specialize in electronic cigarettes, vaping accessories, essential oils, homeopathic oral sprays, aromatherapy candles, incense and handmade gifts by local artisans.
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