Gongs are large percussive instruments from southeast Asia that produce deep vibrations that emanate from the gong’s center when struck. Various sounds may be created by striking the gong with different mallets or at different striking points.
Gongs may be vertically suspended, horizontal, kettle-shaped or hand-held, and are usually made from bronze or brass. The chau gong, also called a bulls-eye gong, is the most recognizable type of gong.
Gongs were originally created in Annam, Burma, China and Java. Making gongs was an exclusive trade that was passed down through families. The gong is said to be one of the oldest instruments, dating back to at least 2000 B.C.E.
Gongs were traditionally played in southeast Asia at weddings, funerals, theatrical productions and orchestral concerts. Gongs may also be used in meditation.
A gong meditation, or gong bath, is a relaxation technique in which the gong is played while participants lie on the floor and experience the vibrations of the gong. Gong meditation is said to reduce tension, stimulate circulation and remove fear.
Traditionally in China, the chau gong was struck to announce the entrance of royalty. The more times it was struck, the higher the person’s status.