History and Purpose of Wind Chimes

Wind chimes are largely considered as the first man-made musical instruments. You’ve probably seen them hung outside most homes or in beautiful serene gardens as visual or aural ornaments. They are known for their earthly meditative sounds. The popular decorations can be heard ringing on suburban lawns in spring and summer creating a peaceful calming effect in the atmosphere. They have a way of creating a natural soothing ambiance in residential settings.

History of Wind Chimes

Wind chimes have been around since the dawn of civilization. It is even believed that the prehistoric people used wind chimes as a source of personal pleasure. They would simply hang objects such as seashells or stones and enjoy watching the objects clashing together to produce pleasurable sounds.

The recorded history of wind chimes dates back almost 5,000 years. Archeological finds in East Asia found around 3000 BC included remnants made of wood, bamboo, bones, and shells. It is believed the chimes were used to ward off evil spirits and scare birds away from crops in the fields.

The Chinese began using wind chimes and bells in 1100 BC. They developed the first metal bells which were usually hung from pagoda and temple eaves to keep away evil spirits. The bells were also used to provide advance warning when uncontrollable forces of nature such as typhoons and tsunamis were about to strike.

The Chinese also used the music coming from wind chimes to establish a peaceful and harmonious atmosphere. The soothing natural sounds had a calming effect on emotions and promoted the spiritual wellness of the listener. Buddhists would even hang thousands of bells or wind chimes outside pagodas, shrines, and temples.

In Southeastern Asia, bells were believed to promote good health and peace. In fact, in zen traditions, bells are still considered an integral part of their religion. In zazen practice bell is rung before and after sessions to denote the beginning and end, as well as to focus the mind on prayer or meditation.

Bells are also a common depiction in Tibetan Buddhism, where the ringing sound is thought to denote emptiness. Their ornate nature also made them a symbol of wealth.

Wind chimes later spread from China and Japan to the western world in the 1800’s after Japan opened their ports to western countries. They were among the many eastern material goods and traditions the West borrowed from Japan and China in the Japonisme period. Today, you can hear their soothing tones echoing the calm meditative music of the breeze in almost every part of the world.

Development of Modern Wind Chimes

Wind chimes are basically percussion instruments made from suspended rods, tubes, bells and other wooden or metallic objects. The rods or tubes are suspended together with a weight or surface that can produce sound when the natural movement of outdoor air or wind causes them to strike each other. The wind chime uses wind as its music player and composer.

There are many types of wind chimes but the most popular ones include a cluster of suspended objects that strike each other, a clapper that strikes a group of objects, and a clapper with a bell.

Modern wind chimes are made of aluminum tubes and plates strung on a wooden plate. They have four to eight aluminum tubes, sometimes with an additional clapper. The instrument is completed with a metal hook or looped string attached at the top for easy hanging. They come in a wide assortment of colors, shapes, and pitches.

The largest wind chime ever made, according to the Guinness Book of Records, was designed by Jim Bolin in 2012 in Casey, Illinois. It is 42 feet long and hangs 50 feet above the ground. The city of Casey also hosts the largest golf tee, pitchfork, rocking chair, and mailbox in the whole world.

Modern Uses of Wind Chimes

Different types of wind chimes are available in most stores and gift shops today, from cheap and festive models to more elegant and pricier versions.

People buy these decorative items for a wide range of reasons and purposes.

Here are some of the most popular modern uses of wind chimes:

Spiritual Purposes

Wind chimes have been used for spiritual purposes for a long time. Buddhist monks have often included wind chimes in their rituals. They are still hung on the eaves of most Asian temples, pagodas, and shrines. The chimes are believed to ward off evil spirits and attract good karma.

Many modern homes have wind chimes hanging on doorways and windows for the same spiritual function of protecting the home and its inhabitants from evil spirits and attract good luck.

Detect Changes in Weather

In the early days before modern meteorology, wind chimes were used as an early warning system to detect changes in weather. Ship captains and farmers could detect changes in wind speed and direction using wind chimes. Such changes often heralded the onset of a storm or typhoon. There are still many people who still use them for the same purpose today.

Scare Birds and Pests Away From Crops

Farmers have throughout history used wind chimes to keep off birds and pests from crops. The sound they produce helps to scare away birds and rodents from crop fields. In places like Bali, you can still find wind chimes scattered in fields of rice and corn to prevent the destruction of crops by birds and pests.

Decorative Purposes

Wind chimes have also become decorative items thanks to modern precision tuning methods and materials. Modern versions are made of finely crafted wood, ceramic, metal, and even glass. The instruments have been fine-tuned to produce sounds in different pitches and create melodious music. They have become popular home decoration items today.

Feng Shui Uses

Did you know they are also popularly used as feng shui cure items?

There are many ways you can use them for good feng shui.

Traditional feng shui schools advocate on the use of wind chimes to cure negative energies. You can use them in your feng shui applications.


Wind chimes have become popular spiritual and decorative items in most homes throughout the world. They have been part and parcel of our traditions since the ancient times. This is primarily because the sound produced by them creates relief, peace, and a state of balance in life.

These decorative items inspire peace and harmony in an endlessly busy world. The calming and relaxing effect of sounds produced by wind chimes helps to heal the body and mind from stress and anxiety.

This article was last revised on 02/28/2020.

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