Gongs are daily alarm clocks for the monks. They get up at 4:30 in the morning. First a little bit of meditation, then a little bit of a walk to get fed by the locals. 

Thailand has a tremendous tradition of gongs. They are made in different parts of the country, but they are similar in that the Thai gong makers focus more on the nipple gongs that provide clear, unique tones versus the flatter Chinese gongs. 

The gong makers, barefoot, begin with sheet metal, snipping out large-diameter circles with something that looks like a giant tobacco cutter. Once the edges are smooth, the circle goes to a welder to attach the sides. A design is then drawn on the back to indicate where to pound out the center hump and surrounding “nipples,” often eight, characteristic of Thai gongs. The gong face is then placed into the sandy soil, and the nipples and center hump are hammered out. Once a gong is hammered, it will be painted with a black enamel coat, and then any ornamentation will be added.

If this resembles a bronze age operation, we would agree. With the exception of modern sheers for snipping the metal, everything else is still done by hand. The resulting product is worth not only displaying but actually using. Getting up at 4:30 am is entirely up to you! 

Bang a Gong!